Almost all of Cave Run Lake lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest boundaries. Established in 1937, the 706,000-acre National Forest covers portions of 21 Kentucky counties. Prior to Cave Run Lake’s construction, the U.S. Forest Service
had significant land holdings in the area where the lake project now exists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acquired the remaining land needed for the development of the lake project. Under an agreement between the Corps and the Forest Service, the majority of the land acquired by the Corps was transferred to the Forest Service upon project completion.
The Corps built the impressive earth and rock fill dam on the Licking River. The large concrete control tower on the upstream side of the dam acts like a drain for the lake. The tower has two large hydraulically controlled main gates and two smaller valve-controlled bypass pipes which control the amount of water released from the lake. The bypass pipes have intakes at different levels in the lake, permitting the dam to discharge water of various temperatures and qualities to provide downstream aquatic life and water users with a more suitable water supply.
The northern-most section of the Daniel Boone National Forest surrounds the Cave Run Lake project and offers visitors many scenic, natural and historic points of interest. More than 300 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles can be found in the hardwood-covered hills, forest openings, streams, ponds and caves of this scenic National Forest. Picnic areas, boat launching ramps, well-developed campgrounds and modern marinas border Cave Run Lake.
The Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery, located off Kentucky Highway 801 (below the dam), is one of the largest state-owned warm-water fish hatcheries in the nation. The hatchery produces between three and four million fingerlings annually, which are released into Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and suitable streams. The varieties of sport fish presently produced are largemouth bass, small mouth bass, muskellunge, striped bass (rockfish), hybrid striped bass and walleye. The hatchery’s water supply is provided by Cave Run Lake from an intake structure on the control tower for the dam. Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery facilities are open to the public from 7am-3pm Mon-Fri and the grounds are open from 7am-Dusk.