Visitors come from near and far to enjoy the beautiful lakes in the greater Knoxville area.  See that star below?  That’s us.  That’s Knoxville.  The center of these 9 Lakes of East Tennessee.  Consider making Knoxville your “home base” and then simply pick a direction - we can tell you what to do and how to do it!

9 Lakes of East Tennessee | easttnvacations.com
Men fishing on boats at Douglas Lake in Knoxville, TN
Douglas Lake | Jed DeKalb courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development

Douglas Lake (East)

Douglas Lake borders Jefferson, Cocke, Sevier, and Hamblen Counties.  If you’re headed that way, check out this post on all things East Knoxville for dining and attractions.  Seven Islands State Birding Park is also along the way.

  • Great destination for crappie and bass fishing
  • Visit Bush Beans Visitor Center in Dandridge
  • Class III and IV white water rapids in the connecting Pigeon River
View of Cherokee Lake in Knoxville, TN
Cherokee Lake | TNECD courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development

Douglas Lake (East)

Douglas Lake borders Jefferson, Cocke, Sevier, and Hamblen Counties.  If you’re headed that way, check out this post on all things East Knoxville for dining and attractions.  Seven Islands State Birding Park is also along the way.

  • Great destination for crappie and bass fishing
  • Visit Bush Beans Visitor Center in Dandridge
  • Class III and IV white water rapids in the connecting Pigeon River
Pantoon boats at a cove on Norris Lake in Knoxville, TN
Norris Lake | courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development

Norris Lake (North)

Norris Lake borders Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, and Union Counties.  Nearby towns include Norris, Clinton, Rocky Top (woo!), and more. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park aren’t too far from here.  Be sure to stop at  Clinch River Brewing, one of the many breweries on Knoxville’s Ale Trail.

Winding road along Melton Hill Lake
Melton Hill Lake

Melton Hill Lake (Northwest)

Melton Hill Lake borders Anderson and Knox Counties.  This lake is in between Knoxville and Oak Ridge; Clinton and Oliver Springs are also nearby.  This lake is home of the Oak Ridge Rowing Association and nationally recognized for collegiate and championship regattas.

Aerial view of waterway and trees at Watts Bar Lake
Watts Bar Lake | Tonya Damron courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development

Watts Bar Lake (West)

Watts Bar Lake borders Meigs, Rhea, Roane, and Loudon counties.  About halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, this is the largest Lake in the area.  Nearby cities include Kingston, Rockwood, and Harriman.

  • Explore the nearby Obed Wild and Scenic River
  • Great opportunities for birding; the marshy wetlands provide nesting grounds for birds like ospreys, blue heron, and even bald eagles
  • This lake contains several islands, get out on a boat to find them
People kayaking on Fort Loudon Lake in Knoxville, TN
Fort Loudon Lake | Andrew Saucier courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development

Fort Loudon Lake (South/Southwest)

Fort Loudon Lake borders Knox, Loudon, and Blount Counties.  In addition to Knoxville, Alcoa, Maryville, and Lenoir City are also nearby.  Fun fact:  Suttree Landing, Volunteer Landing, Sequoyah Hills Park, Carl Cowan Park, and Concord Park are some of the City of Knoxville and Knox County Parks that border this lake and this section of the Tennessee River.

  • Excellent bass fishing here; the launch for competitors of the Bassmaster Classic in 2019 was at Governor McWherter Park
  • One can navigate all the way to Paducah, KY from here via the Tennessee Riverline
  • Rent kayaks or SUPs at multiple outlets – if you’re sticking close to downtown Knoxville, check out the Knoxville Adventure Collective
People boating on Tellico Lake near Knoxville, TN
Tellico Lake | Andrew Saucier courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development

Tellico Lake (Southwest)

Tellico Lake borders Loudon and Monroe counties.  This reservoir was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1979 upon the completion of Tellico Dam.

  • This area flooded historic Cherokee towns, and since the Dam completion, this area has great farmland so be sure to sample the produce
  • Fort Loudon State Park is one of the earliest British frontier fortifications built in 1756
  • Visit the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, birthplace of the genius Sequoyah who invented the Cherokee alphabet
Person in a canoe on Chilhowee Lake in Knoxville, TN
Chilhowee Lake

Calderwood and Chilhowee Lakes (Southwest)

Calderwood Lake forms the border between Cherokee National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Chilhowee Lake is just downstream.  Nearby towns include Tellico Plains, Townsend, and Vonore.

  • Great place to fish for a variety of trout and bass too
  • Townsend is known as the “Quiet Side of the Smokies” and Cades Cove is easily accessed from this side of the GSMNP
  • A favorite fall activity is driving the Cherohala Skyway

We hope this helps you plan a trip to Knoxville and explore the 9 Lakes of our region!

Additional Resources below.

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Fog along the treetops at Frozen Head State Park
Frozen Head State Park | courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development
Men crossing the Big South Fork National River with their bikes
Big South Fork NRRA | Tennessee Home and Farm Summer courtesy of TN Department of Tourist Development
Bridge over a creek in the Cherokee National Forest
Cherokee National Forest | Brian Greer Roots Rated
Hikers standing under the Grotto Falls on Trillium Gap Trail near Knoxville
Grotto Falls | Phil Horton

Waterfalls: