Sometimes the best way to cool off is to get out on the water. We are blessed in Sevier County to have Douglas Lake easily accessible for all sorts of summer water fun. Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, you can’t lose if you choose a scenic and sunny day playing here. Douglas Lake is actually a manmade “faucet reservoir” as a part of the Holston-Cherokee-Douglas Watershed system. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) created this hydroelectric dam system in the 1940’s during World War II, and Douglas Dam and Douglas Lake is our much beloved result, which spills downstream into the French Broad River. The lake is used to control water flow, and is drawn down in the early fall, causing the water line to drop throughout the winter months. August, however, is happy summertime to enjoy all there is to offer.
Besides special events that occur in the boating community over holiday weekends, there is always plenty to do during the warm summer months on Douglas Lake. There are over 30,000 acres of water and 555 miles of shoreline where you can enjoy a sunny day. Swimming, Boating, fishing, and water sporting and lakeside dining are all available. I won’t waste words discussing the many ways you can play in the water.
If you are saying to yourself, “But we left our boat at home,” know that you can rent all the necessities for a great day of play on the water. There are many places to acquire equipment around the lake, but consider H2O /Sports in Dandridge and Mountain Cove Marina in Sevierville as two friendly and reputable outfitters. From a paddle board or kayak, to waverunners and pontoon boats, clean equipment and all the safety and fun accessories like lifejackets and tubes can be rented. Prices are reasonable and equipment is nice: why not? Check for special offers online available during your stay.
Fishing anyone? Can you say bass tournaments? Gamefish available for everyone on the lake include largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and more. A haven for daily anglers, those who know say there are fishing opportunities for various varieties throughout the calendar year. TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resource Association) also monitors, manages, and uses supplemental stocking and habitat enhancement to maintain sport fishing quality in the lake. From the shore or on the water, everyone can enjoy using their poles on Douglas Lake. Acquiring bait depends on where you plan to approach the water. For a full bait and tackle shop, consider Bucks N Bass in Dandridge, or just grab some minnows from The Dam Store in Sevierville.
Need a picnic location? Camera photo spot? With killer mountain views and charcoal grills in a park setting, you must select the Douglas Dam Overlook picnic area. There are two separate areas from which to choose, and both are a lovely place to relax and dine outdoors. Peaceful and beautiful, it’s an easy place to let the kids play safely outdoors and for you to relax in the camp chair. The Overlook area has a viewing station with public restrooms, and a pavilion for large group functions (can be reserved for special events during high season). The view of the entire mountain range is panoramic on a clear day without any major obstructions beyond the power lines. The backdrop has been used for professional model shoots and weddings, so it’s also appropriate for your family vacation memory photograph.
Douglas Dam itself is educational and interesting sightseeing for everyone in the family. Located below the Overlook, you can drive directly up to the dam and walk up and touch the wall, though no public tours are offered inside. Depending on the season and water level needs, spillways can be opened like waterfalls, and daily hydroelectric turbines are actively generating power at the base. It is a good spot also for birdwatching, since smart birds catch meals on the French Broad River tailwater area close to the dam’s spillway. Cranes of all sorts are numerous, and it is also possible to spot bald eagles. They are plentiful in this area since the American Eagle Foundation uses Douglas Lake as a release point back into the wild for rehabilitated birds, and they make their home here.
Easily accessible. Breathtaking views of the mountains. Playgrounds in, on, and around the water. Educational opportunities and places to unplug and relax. You must make “a day at the lake” part of your visit during this trip to your Smokies rental cabin. Your only regret will be if you miss it!