Douglas Lake Information

Douglas Lake lies in eastern Tennessee, mostly in Jefferson County, with small parts of it in Cocke, Hamblen, and Sevier Counties. Douglas Lake covers 28,420 acres and has 513 miles of shoreline with a maximum depth of 140 feet. Douglas Lake is about 43 miles long, and approximately 17% of the shoreline is developed. Knoxville, Tennessee, is 40 miles from its eastern shore and 22 miles from its western shore, and the nearest metroplex. 

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) owns and operates Douglas Lake. The French Broad River and the Nolichucky River feed Douglas Lake. Douglas Lake snakes along the French Broad River. It boasts hundreds of small tributaries spider webbing around every arm and bend, with numerous islands. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Douglas Lake attracts over 1.7 million visitors a year. The major tourist towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg are within a short drive of Douglas Lake along scenic roads.

History of Douglas Lake

The TVA built the Douglas Dam to provide hydroelectric power to help with downstream flood control of the Tennessee River Valley and provide power to assist in the WWII effort. The TVA built the Douglas Dam in record time for a reservoir of its size. Construction began on February 2, 1942 and lasted until February 19, 1943, at the height of World War II. 

Jefferson County, which comprises almost all of Douglas Lake, lies in the East Tennessee Valley. Geography influenced the county’s development. The first permanent settlement at Dandridge dates back to 1783, and it became the county seat in 1793. Dandridge sits on the northern border about in the middle of Douglas Lake.

In 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto discovered the people of the Chiaha region in a town known as Olamico. Muskogean speakers, known as Coasati, inhabited Olamico, which was located on Zimmerman's Island in the French Broad River, near present-day Dandridge. There was a 30-foot mound that the explorers believed the Coasati built Olamico around. 

Zimmerman’s Island is now under Douglas Lake. Another band of Indians, known as the Chiscas, lived a few miles north of Olamico, and probably on the Nolichucky River, which flows into the eastern edge of Douglas Lake. In 1867, Juan Pardo, a Spanish explorer, sent an advance guard of his soldiers to Chiscas, and they killed over 1,500 Chiscas. 

When Pardo’s army arrived at Olamico, they found the town guarded by a strong palisade, square towers, and an army of warriors, but no women or children. The Spaniards built a fort on the island while waiting for Juan Pardo to arrive. Thousands of early Indians traveled throughout Jefferson County on their way to and from the Chiaha region. 

We know little more about these Native Americans than what the Spanish explorers recorded. Before the TVA impounded Douglas Lake, it sponsored archaeological excavations on Fain's Island and Zimmerman's Island, now both under Douglas Lake. The University of Tennessee preserves the raw data and photographs of those TVA excavations, but no reports have surfaced about them. 

Fishing Douglas Lake 

Douglas Lake bass fishing is excellent! Bassmaster Magazine named Douglas Lake a Bassmaster Top 100 Lake. It ranks in the top ten in the U.S. for bass fishing lakes. Douglas Lake is rated as one of the top five crappie fishing lakes in the U.S. Anglers will find largemouth, striped, spotted, and white bass in Douglas Lake. Other game species include bluegill, blue, channel, and flathead catfish, sauger, redbreast sunfish, and walleye.  

A variety of fish attractors on Douglas Lake include brush piles, used by many species of game fish as stake beds, that are primarily for the purpose of concentrating crappie. Smartweed and bald cypress trees have been incorporated in Douglas Lake to provide long-lasting habitats and nursery areas for young fish. Buttonbush and black willow trees, water loving, woody stemmed plants, are abundant in shallow coves. The best fishing seasons are in spring and autumn at Douglas Lake. 

Precautionary Fish Consumption Advisory from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC):

On the Nolichucky River, the advisory extends from Douglas Lake upstream to the mouth of Bent Creek. The advisory does not include Douglas Lake itself. Don’t eat the largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, or catfish. Pregnant or nursing mothers and children should avoid eating the fish species included in the advisories and all others should limit consumption to one meal per month. The advisories came because of careful tracking of mercury levels for several years by TDEC and the TVA.

Six marinas and many boat ramps are located mainly on Douglas Lake’s northern shores, but there is lake access at a few spots on its southern shores. Douglas Lake fishing guides know the vast expanse and all the coves and islands of Douglas Lake well, plus where all the honey holes are for whatever species you desire to catch. 

Find experienced local guides on our Douglas Lake Fishing Guides page. 

Douglas Lake Boating

Douglas Lake is a great destination for swimming, water skiing, boating, tubing, rafting, and parasailing. Boaters can find great swimming holes and beaches everywhere. This is a deep lake at 140-feet maximum depth. There are plenty of boat docks and marinas dotted around Douglas Lake. 

The stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountain foothills provide great opportunities to cruise around in a boat or for kayaking and canoeing. Douglas Lake has thousands of coves and many islands to visit. The marinas give access to boat rentals, slips, wet and dry docks, gas docks, ship’s stores, restaurants, and one even offers spa treatments.

Nearby, east of Douglas Lake on the Pigeon River, for the adventurists, the Pigeon River has Class III and IV whitewater rapids and is home to a dozen rafting outfitters. Most of the marinas rent boats, and several boat rental services offer pontoon boats, ski boats, tubes, paddle boats, kayaks, bass boats, and jet skis. 

Find or sell a boat on our Douglas Lake Boats for Sale page. 

Douglas Lake Real Estate

Douglas Lake real estate ranks as a top ten market for lake homes and lake lots in Tennessee. There are typically 110 lake homes for sale on Douglas Lake and usually 260 lake lots and land for sale. Douglas Lake homes for sale have an average list price of $505,000, with other homes at higher and lower prices.

Quite a few restaurants and bars are scattered around Douglas Lake, and the nearby tourist towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg offer more entertainment. The largest town near Douglas Lake is Knoxville. There are two Walmarts on the south in Newport and Pigeon Forge, and one on the north in Jefferson City near Douglas Lake, and two Dollar General stores sit on the northern border of the lake. 

Cocke County and Jefferson City School Districts serve the educational needs of Douglas Lake. Eighty-three percent of Douglas Lake’s shoreline is undeveloped with a peaceful, natural, and breathtaking atmosphere and so many options at nearby attractions surrounding it. 

To find your dream lake home, explore our  Douglas Lake Homes for Sale page. 

Douglas Lake Cabin Rentals

Hundreds of cabins and vacation homes are available at Douglas Lake from private owners, marinas, and campgrounds. They feature all kinds of amenities. Sit out on a private dock on a cool spring morning with your favorite coffee or hot chocolate while watching the smoky blue fog of the Great Smoky Mountains. 

You can actually rent a real Smoky Mountain cabin with all the charm of yesteryear. They come in all sizes. Some are rustic, some are quaint and charming, and some come with all the modern features, and can sleep up to 15 people. You can find rentals with private beaches, private docks, decks, lakefront views, grills, fire pits, and more. 

Find the perfect vacation home on our Douglas Lake Cabins page. 

Douglas Lake Camping

Campgrounds abound all over Douglas Lake. This lake offers some of the most beautiful scenery Tennessee has to offer, along with plenty of nature and wildlife. RV sites are just as plentiful. They are everywhere, offering any camping experience you could imagine. Some are open seasonally but serve fishermen year round with their bait stores. Others are open all year.

Generations of families in Tennessee have been coming to Douglas Lake year after year for the great recreational and camping experiences it provides. Visitors can find ADA accessible and pet friendly camping sites too. The campgrounds offer many types of amenities depending on the campground, but there’s primitive tent camping, tent camping with electric and water, and RV sites and parks all around Douglas Lake.  

Several of the marinas have campgrounds and RV sites. Some of the amenities offered are bathhouses, boat ramps, swimming beaches, picnic areas, hiking trails, fire pits and grills, pavilions, boat rentals, and more. You and your family or friends will make lifetime memories while camping at Douglas Lake. 

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Douglas Lake Camping page. 

Trails at Douglas Lake

Most of the hiking and mountain biking trails near Douglas Lake are ten to 15 miles south when you get into the Great Smoky Mountains. There are tons of them. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 850 miles of trail to explore. Some campgrounds at Douglas Lake have hiking areas. 

Trotter Bluff Small Wild Area is a hiking trail on the eastern edge of Douglas Lake. It is a 400-foot cliff that overlooks the French Broad River and comprises 30 acres of a mature, upland hardwood forest that skirts Douglas Lake. Its 1.2-mile loop trail is moderately difficult. The Dandridge Partnership Trail is an easy 1.2-mile out and back loop at the Dandridge Municipal Park. 

Douglas Lakeview Riding Stables in Sevierville offers horseback trail riding around Douglas Lake and Smoky Mountain tours from one to four hours, and longer tours are available if you call ahead.

Douglas Lake Things to Do

The Douglas Lake Region of Tennessee is jam-packed with attractions all around it, and they include adventures, theme parks, shows, craft fairs, musical entertainment, ziplining, whitewater rafting, and a plethora of monthly events. Below, we have listed a few of the popular and more interesting things to do. 

Douglas Lake restaurants can be found all around the lake and in the nearby towns, and there are plenty of them with many serving unique cuisine, beer, wine, and cocktails with the utmost southern hospitality. 

Dandridge Golf & Country Club in Dandridge Club has developed a reputation as an enjoyable round of golf for the beginner or the seasoned professional. The original 18-holes, designed by Dan Maples, wind its way through valleys, hills, and woodlands. Today, it is the area’s first 27-hole golf course.

See the animals at the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo in Sevierville. This zoo also has horseback riding stables. You can hang out with their deer, walk among the deer, and hand feed them, plus you can talk to a Rocky Mountain elk, hug a baby goat, rub a camel, pet zebras and zonkies, stroke an emu, kiss a kangaroo, and scratch Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. 

The Redneck Comedy Bus Tour of the Smokies, out of Pigeon Forge, whisks visitors of all ages away on a climate-controlled bus for an outstanding and hilarious adventure through the stunning Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It starts off in front of the Creative Theater in Pigeon Forge, where you will meet your comedic redneck tour guide.

Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge is a one and a half hour lumberjack show with real lumberjacks and an adventure park where you can try to master lumberjack skills like log rolling, a themed roped course, ziplining, and an 80-foot tree fall jump. 

Dollywood, right outside of Pigeon Forge, is a Tennessee staple. The Dollywood theme park offers over 50 world-class rides, high-energy entertainment shows, and award-winning dining. Dollywood won an award for having the friendliest theme park atmosphere in the world.

Visit the King’s Family Distillery, near Pigeon Forge, which is the area’s premier distillery and features a diverse lineup of award-winning whiskeys, vodkas, and liqueurs. 

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg takes you on moving glide paths alongside rays and sea turtles, you can soak up the beautiful colors of exotic fish, and come face-to-fin with thousands of other fascinating creatures, from barracudas and sharks to jellies and eels. Ripley’s Aquariums’ animal experts entertain and educate through hands-on experiences, including touch tanks and behind-the-scenes encounters.

The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair host artisans and craftsmen from all over the U.S. every October. Two hundred booths with unique and one-of-a-kind handmade products are displayed beautifully, while these skilled craftspeople demonstrate their talents. Look for exceptional pottery pieces, molded leather, copper art, and local candy makers.

Gatlin’s Escape Games dares you to solve puzzles and conquer challenges, while experiencing adrenaline-pumping surprises around every corner. And then, enter the Realm of Illusions, a mystic venue known as the “other side of magic,” where truly powerful magic takes place. After that, visit its Legend of Atlantis, an epic, story-driven journey that puts you into an Indiana Jones adventure, which is full of Hollywood-quality set pieces with special effects. But, there’s even more thrilling adventures offered at Gatlin’s Escape Games.

In Dandrige, check out the Wolf Paws Positive Awareness Wolfdog Sanctuary. It offers private tours only, so you have to book in advance. This sanctuary was established to rescue unwanted, abandoned, and abused wolf dogs, and to provide a permanent sanctuary for them in a safe and natural environment. It educates their visitors about the specific care requirements and challenges of owning wolf dogs in an attempt to reduce the number of wolf dogs who are euthanized. 

Take a chance at the Skydive East Tennessee in Dandridge and jump from a perfectly good airplane in an area renowned the world over for its amazing views of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They have a climate-controlled building with restrooms, training rooms, spectator facilities, video viewing areas, a padded indoor packing room, and free wi-fi. 

Plan your next trip on our What To Do At Douglas Lake page.

Douglas Lake Zip Codes

Cocke County: 37713, 37821, 37822, 37727, 37843,37753.

Hamblen County: 37778, 37813, 37814, 37815, 37816, 37860, 37877, 37891.

Jefferson County: 37725, 37760, 37820, 37890.

Sevier County: 37722, 37738, 37862, 37863, 37864, 37868, 37876. 

Douglas Lake Weather & Climate

Douglas Lake sees an average of 45 inches of rain, with seven inches of snow, and 204 days of sunshine per year. The winter low in January is 25 degrees with a summer high in July of 87 degrees. May, September, and October are the most comfortable months for this region.

Keep an eye on the skies with our Douglas Lake Weather Forecast page

Douglas Lake Flora and Fauna

Bird watching is exceptional at Douglas Lake. You can see and photograph the Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Hawks, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plovers, Least, Semipalmated, Western, Pectoral, Spotted, Solitary, and Stilt Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, and several species of swallows. The best place to bird at Douglas Lake is at Henderson Island, a 525-acre refuge.

Of the 65 mammal species documented in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most commonly seen wildlife at the Douglas Lake region are the bat species, chipmunk, groundhog, raccoons, opossums, red and gray foxes, red and gray squirrels, skunks, white-tailed deer, and woodchucks. Dominating tree species include the tulip poplar, American basswood, red maple, sweet gum, yellow buckeye, black birch, and dogwood. This lush, diverse forest enjoys warm temperatures, a long growing season, and plentiful rainfall.

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Douglas Lake Current Weather Alerts

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Douglas Lake Weather Forecast



Hi: 62

Monday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 39


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Tuesday Night

Slight Chance Rain Showers

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Mostly Cloudy

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Wednesday Night

Partly Cloudy

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Mostly Sunny

Hi: 72

Thursday Night

Partly Cloudy

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