Carr Creek Lake

843 Sassafras Creek Road
Sassafras, KY 41759-8806
Telephone 606-642-3308
Office hours: M-F, 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (may vary, call ahead)

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Carr Creek Lake 2018 Pool Raise

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Welcome to the Carr Creek Lake website. The lake is located in the mountainous region of southeastern Kentucky, about 16 miles from Hazard and 18 miles from Whitesburg.

The dam is located 8.8 miles above the mouth of Carr Fork, a tributary of the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

The 710 acre lake and surrounding area offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. The Corps, in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, manages the land and water for wildlife, fisheries and recreation. The menu on the right leads you to specific recreation and other lake information.


The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built, and operates the project. The project serves as one unit of the comprehensive plan for the Ohio River Basin to reduce the flood stages downstream from the dam. The lake provides water supply storage and operates to increase natural low-flow conditions downstream of the dam in the interest of water quality control. Also, the lake offers boating, fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities to the general public.

During the fall and winter months, the lake is kept at a relatively low level referred to as winter pool. Should heavy rains occur, surface water runoff is stored in the lake until the swollen streams and rivers below the dam have receded and can handle the release of the stored water without damage to lives and property.


Settlement of the Carr Fork area began as early as the 1770s when trappers passed though Cumberland Gap and Pound Gap into the Eastern Kentucky Mountains. Settlers came from North Carolina and Virginia with some from what later became West Virginia and Tennessee. Carr Fork is thought to have gotten its name from William Carr, a well-known “Long Hunter,” who hunted in the area.

Many of the first settlers to the area moved further west as populations of beaver and other furbearers declined. Those settlers who remained depended largely on farming the narrow bottomlands for a living, along with a limited trade supported by several salt licks. A demand for lumber in Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region created a booming business in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the springtime great rafts of hardwood logs rode down the flooded tributaries to the Kentucky River and on to Lexington, Frankfort, and other settlements. When the supply of timber became depleted, coal mining became and remains the area’s major industry.

The geological history of this area is revealed in the exposed rocks of the Carr Fork Lake emergency spillway. A vertical cut through the steep mountains recalls a fascinating period of time that geologists call the Pennsylvanian Period. The oldest rocks to be seen in the spillway are those at the bottom as these sediments were lefty behind first. The rocks and the sediments the rocks were formed from are limestone, made principally from the carbonate of lime and shelled animals such as sea shells; sandstone, formed of sand grains which became cemented together; shales, formed chiefly from silts and clays; and coal, formed from great masses of plants which grew in vast marine or salt water swamps. Geologists tell us that it generally took about 20 feet of decaying vegetation to form just one foot of coal. Much of our knowledge of life that existed in ages past has come from fossilized plants and animals. Some of the fossils exposed during the excavation of this area are on display at the project office.


2017 Calendar of Events Carr Creek Lake.

January 1, 2017 New Year's Day

January 16, 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 20, 2017 Presidents Day

April 1, 2017 Littcarr Campground, Littcarr Recreation areas, Tailwater and Marina recreation areas open

April 29, 2017 40TH Annual Carr Creek Lake Cleanup. Registration begins at 0800 and clean up will last until 1200 at the Laurel shelter next to the Marina. POC is Park Ranger Jesse Saylor

May 1, 2017 Lake returns to summer pool elevation 1028 ft.

May 29, 2017 Memorial Day

July 4, 2017 Independence Day

September 4, 2017 Labor Day

September 15, 2017 Drawdown to winter pool begins

September 19, 2017 Environmental Fair POC is Park Ranger Kevin C. Wright

October 08, 2017 Littcarr Campground closes.

October 09, 2017 Columbus Day

October 08, 2017 Tailwater and Littcarr Recreation Areas close

November 10, 2017 Veteran's Day

November 23, 2017 Thanksgiving Day

December 01, 2017 Drawdown to winter pool

December 25, 2017 Christmas Day




Carr Creek Lake offers many recreational opportunities. For the sportsman, fishing is an ever-present activity. Crappie, bass, bluegill, and walleye are plentiful in the lake and provide hours of fishing enjoyment. Also, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife release trout in the tailwater throughout the summer months.

For those who prefer not to fish, bring a boat anyway and spend time exploring the lake or water-skiing. The lake information line (606) 642-3307) or the Carr Creek Marina (606) 642-3239) may be contacted for further information on boating and fishing.

For the hikers, there is a short (less than one mile) nature trail located in the Dam/Tailwater area. For a bit more adventure, there is a six-mile trail, known as the Sugar Branch Trail, beginning at the dam and ending at Sugar Lake Road.

On hot days, swimming is a refreshing pastime. A beach is located in the Carr Creek State Park. The office can be reached at (606) 642-4050 and is open to the public during daylight hours throughout the summer.

Enjoy picnicking? There are eight picnic shelters and additional picnic areas available for public use in the recreation areas around the lake. Picnic shelter reservations can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or by

Is camping what you had in mind? There are two campgrounds at Carr Creek Lake open April through October. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates Littcarr Campground located on Highway 160. Littcarr Campground, with telephone number (606) 642-3052, offers excellent camping opportunities. The campground has 32 sites with electric and water hookup, 14 sites with electric, water, sewer, and TV. Kentucky Department of Parks maintains Carr Creek State Park Campground located on Highway 15. Carr Creek State Park can be reached at (606) 642-4050 and offers camping to RV and tent campers.

No matter how visitors want to spend their day, Carr Creek Lake has an activity for everyone.



 Picnic Shelters

 A total of eight picnic shelters are open for use from April through October – four at the Littcarr Recreation Area, two in the Dam/Tailwater Area and two at the Marina. All shelters are open on a first come, first served basis unless they have been reserved. A reservation sign in front of each shelter indicates if the shelter is reserved or not. Also, a calendar of reservations is posted on the bulletin board. Make your reservation through or call Toll Free 1-877-444-6777.

Picnic shelter reservations begin at 10 a.m. This allows time to complete cleaning and maintenance activities. Groups planning late afternoon use are advised that shelters may not remain clean all day. Any questions or problems may be directed to park rangers, park attendants or maintenance personnel on duty.

Fishing Pier at Dogwood Shelter


Dogwood Shelter


Sycamore Shelter




Pin Oak






White Pine




 Camping at Carr Creek Lake

There are two campgrounds at Carr Creek Lake open April through October. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers operates Littcarr Campground located on Highway 160. Kentucky Department of Parks maintains Carr Creek State Park Campground located on Highway 15. Advance reservations are offered at both campgrounds.

Littcarr Campground:

Littcarr Campground offers excellent camping opportunities with a total of 45 campsites. For the RV camper, all of the campsites have water and electric hook ups. A total of 14 sites now have sewer hook ups, these sites are $28.00 per night unless you receive the 50% discount. Tent campers are also welcome to enjoy our standard campsites. The fee for standard camping is $22 per night. Golden Age and Access cards are still accepted for the 50% discount on camping. The new passes America the Beautiful Access and Age cards are also accepted for the 50%. Reservations for camping are accepted and should be made by calling toll free 1 (877) 444-6777. Make reservations on the Internet at Ice, firewood, coin operated washers and dryers, soft drink machines and a pay telephone are also available. For convenience, major credit cards are accepted for camping, picnic shelter reservations and other fees. 


                                                     Littcarr Campground - Rules and Regulations

This handy rules and regulation pamphlet is a supplement to Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations under which all US Army Corps of Engineers’ project land and waters are protected, please ensure you have a copy of the Title 36 brochure as well. So that the many visitors and the campground itself are protected we ask that the following rules and regulations be observed at all times.

1. All Campers and visitors are required to register with the Park Attendants. Please stop every time you pass the entrance and display a vehicle Camper and or Visitor Pass. The Corps of Engineers charges a visitor fee of $1.00 per person or a maximum of $3.00 per vehicle. Due to limited space available if there are more than two visitor vehicles per campsite; arrangements should be made to park those vehicles in other parking lots in the area. Boat trailers should be parked at the turn- around area near site 19 and not on the grass next to your site.

2. Camping is limited to fourteen (14) consecutive days in any thirty (30) day period. Camping is permitted only at designated campsites. Due to limited space available occupancy is limited to six (6) people per night and two (2) vehicles per site. Camping equipment is limited to one primary and one secondary unit, such as one trailer or motor home and one small tent.

3. Quiet Hours are from 10:00pm to 6:00am daily. Excessive noise during this period is prohibited.

4. Parents are responsible for their children at all times. Children should be supervised while using playground equipment and kept away from the playground during quiet hours.

5. The discharge of gray water or any other waste material, or waste liquid is prohibited. The washing of vehicles, campers, ATV’s or any equipment is prohibited. No bathing of pets in the restroom, shower house or laundry room areas.

6. The entrance security gate is provided for your protection and to assist with quiet hour enforcement. The gate closes at 10:00 pm and opens at 8:00 am. To assist us with security and quiet hours we ask that this rule be specifically observed. Should the need to obtain the gate combination occur those requests will be assessed on an individual basis.

7. Please observe the maximum 15 mph speed limit or even drive slower if you prefer. Please limit vehicle usage for entering and leaving the campground as much as possible, our roadway is narrow and this lessons the chance for an accident and makes for a more peaceful atmosphere as well. All wheeled vehicles should be parked in designated parking areas. Due to resulting damage to turf, parking wheeled vehicles on the grass should be avoided as much as possible.

8. ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) and ORV (Off Road Vehicles) use in the campground area is prohibited. The use of golf carts is permitted but should be limited to necessary dumpster, bathroom visits, etc. not for joy riding and not to be driven by anyone under 16 years of age.

9. Due to previous accidents and close calls, bicycles are only allowed between sites 1 thru 19 and not between sites 20 thru 28, the new B loop, or the hill going to the old water treatment building.

10. Local law prohibits alcoholic beverages throughout the project area.

11. All loaded firearms, ammunition, projectile devices, weapons, explosives, including fireworks are prohibited.

12. Fires are permitted only in provided fire rings. Fires must be contained inside the fire ring.

13. Horseshoe pits are located behind campsites 16-17. Due to resulting damage to turf and other hazards please do not play horseshoes out side of the designated area. Horseshoes are available for check-out from the Park Attendants.

14. Please put all trash in the dumpster located at the end of the entrance bridge. Plastics bags are available upon request. Utilizing this type refuse disposal significantly reduces our costs to operate our campground. Please keep your site clean and neat during your stay, trash left on your site after your departure is considered littering and could result in your receiving a citation for littering.

15. Check-out time is 3:00pm – earlier notice is always appreciated.

Please report disruptive behavior to the Park Attendants and or a Park Ranger.

These rules and regulations are established by the US Army Corps of Engineers at Carr Creek Lake and are being provided to you by the Park Attendants for your informed stay at Littcarr Campground.

NEW! In 2013 we are exploring new ways to conserve electricity and water and innovative ways to recycle, if you have any ideas or suggestions please relay them to the Park Attendant, Park Ranger staff and/or during our comment card survey.


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Thank you for staying with us, we hope it was an enjoyable visit, please come back soon!

Campground Phone Number 606-642-3052

            Corps of Engineers Office Phone Number 606-642-3308

 Hiking Trails at Carr Creek Lake
For the hikers, there are two short (less than one mile) nature trails:
one is located in the Dam/Tailwater area near the boat launch ramp and the other is located in the Littcarr area beside the White Pine Shelter.
For a bit more adventure, there is a six-mile trail, known as the Sugar Branch Trail, beginning at the dam and ending at Sugar Lake Road.
 Hunting and Fishing


Fishing is an enjoyable pastime pursued at Carr Creek Lake. Native species persisting after impoundment are smallmouth bass, black crappie and white crappie. Additional game species, which have been introduced into the lake, include largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, redbreast sunfish and walleye. Gizzard shad were introduced to improve the forage base and are persistent. Threadfin shad, which do not tolerate the cold winter temperatures, have been stocked annually since 1986. Trout are released monthly during the summer below the dam. Visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife for regulations and license requirements.

Trout releases will begin for 2017 in early spring!


Hunting is permitted in the Carr Creek Lake Wildlife Management Area as well as outside recreation and operations areas on the project. There is a large supply of rabbit, squirrel, turkey and deer to be hunted on the project. Non-commercial trapping, archery and black powder hunting are gaining popularity at the lake. Contact the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife for seasons, regulations and license requirements.

 Recreation user fees and Discount Passes

Recreation user fees for boat launching ramps 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collects recreation user fees for boat launching ramps at Carr Creek Lake.

A $5 fee is collected at the Marina and Littcarr ramps. Launch fees are made through a self-deposit system located at each ramp. For payment, follow the instructions on the sign located next to the fee collection box. Fees collected are used to help pay for operation and maintenance costs of Corps facilities.

Registered Littcarr campers are not required to pay the boat launch fee. However, the camping pass should be displayed in the vehicle windshield when parked in a launching ramp area.

Those who use a Corps launching ramp on a frequent basis may prefer to purchase a $40 annual pass. It permits the holder and passengers to use all Corps operated boat launching ramps and swimming beaches across the country during the calendar year without further charge. The annual pass can be purchased from park attendants at the Littcarr Campground. Holders of Golden Age and Golden Access Passports are entitled to a 50 percent discount on these fees. These passports are no longer available but will be honored as long as you can present your card at the time of purchase of the annual boat lauch pass. Holders of the new pass, America the Beautiful Access or Age Pass, will also receive a 50% discount for boat launch passes and camping.




  • For safety, the Corps encourages swimmers to swim in designated areas only.
  • There is no lifeguard service at Corps beaches -- swim at one's own risk. Always use the "Buddy System" -- don't swim alone.
  • Swimming, wading, snorkeling or scuba diving at one's own risk is permitted, except at boat launching sites, designated mooring points and public docks, or other areas so designated by the District Commander.
  • A beach is located in the Carr Creek State Park. The office can be reached at (606) 642-4050 and is open to the public during daylight hours beginning Memorial weekend lasting throughout the summer. Also there is no user fee for use the beach and life guards on the duty during these hours.
  • If questions about swimming, contact the park manager at Carr Creek Lake's Project Office, (606) 642-3308.
 Driving Directions

                                                                                       Driving Directions

  • From Knoxville, TN: Take I-75 N toward Lexington. Take the KY-192 exit- Exit Number 38- toward London. Turn right onto KY-192 East. Turn right onto Daniel Boone Parkway East (Portions toll). Take the KY-15/KY-80 West exit- Exit Number 59- toward Jackson/Hazard. Turn right onto KY-15/KY-80. Continue to follow KY-15. Turn a sharp left onto Sassafras Creek Road/Main Street. End at Sassafras, Ky. Distance is approximately 167 miles.
  • From Cincinnati, OH: Merge onto I-71 South toward Louisville, I-71 South becomes I-75 South. Merge onto I-64 East via the exit- on the left- toward Lexington/Ashland. Merge onto Bert Combs Mountain Parkway East via Exit Number 98 toward Campton/Prestonsburg. Merge onto Hazard Road/Mountain Parkway-15 Spur via Exit Number 43 toward KY-15/Campton. Hazard Road/Mountain Parkway/KY-15 Spur becomes KY-15. Turn a sharp left onto Sassafras Creek Road/Main Street. End at Sassafras, Ky. Distance is approximately 210 miles.
  • From Huntington, W. Va.: Merge onto I-64 West toward Ashland. Take the US-23 exit- Exit Number 191- toward Louisa/Ashland. Turn a slight left to take the ramp toward Louisa. Turn left onto US-23 South. Take the KY-80 West ramp. Merge onto KY-80 East. Turn left onto KY-160. Turn right onto KY-550. Stay straight to go onto KY-160. Turn right onto KY-15. Turn a slight right onto Sassafras Creek Road/Main Street. End at Sassafras, Ky. Distance is approximately 120 miles.
  • From Bowling Green, Ky.: Merge onto I-65 North toward Louisville, take the C Parkway Toll Road exit- Exit Number 43- toward Glasgow/Somerset. Merge onto Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway(portions toll). Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway becomes KY-90 Truck E/KY-90 Bypass East (portions toll). Stay straight to go onto louie b nunn cumberland pkwy e (portions toll), Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway East becomes Russell S. Dyche Memorial Highway. Turn a slight right onto KY-80/London Road. Continue to follow KY-80 East. KY-80 East becomes Daniel Boone Parkway East (portions toll). Take the KY-15/KY-80 West exit- Exit Number 59- toward Jackson/Hazard. Turn right onto KY-15/KY-80. Continue to follow KY-15. Turn a sharp left onto Sassafras Creek Road/Main Street. End at Sassafras, Ky. Distance is approximately 210 miles.

Click here for road conditions.


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