Owsley Fork Lake – Berea’s Main Water Reservoir

Owsley Fork Lake is a picturesque lake in Berea, Kentucky. It’s surrounded by natural beauty and recreational opportunities for various kinds of outings. The water that fills the lake comes from springs and rain collected in the nearby 1300-acre drainage basin. It produces over 650 million gallons of water annually.

Why is Owsley Fork Lake picturesque?
Owsley Fork Lake is picturesque because it has a naturally beautiful green hue. It’s surrounded by natural beauty and recreation opportunities for various kinds of outings, such as walking trails and picnic areas. Not to mention that it’s a man-made lake, so you can enjoy seeing all the unique features like the dam.

The lake sits on three sides within a wall of mountains, and it is stunning in nearly every season. In the summer, deep greens are beautiful, as are wildflowers in the spring, and the mountains are magnificent during the fall with brilliant hues or when covered with a blanket of snow.

What are some recreational opportunities for various kinds of outings?
Exploring the trails around the lake is a great recreational opportunity for all kinds of outings. It’s surrounded by nature, so hikers can enjoy walking in the woods and seeing all the wildlife they find. There are also picnic areas available for people who want to bring their own food. If you prefer to just sit back and relax by the water. The lake is also ideal for kayaking and canoeing with easy access for loading.

Fishing is easily accessible at Owsley

What about fishing?
The weeds on the lake get thick around the banks, so it’s best to fish from the dam or a boat of some sort during the height of summer. Other times in the year the lake is accessible from many areas, especially when the water is low.

There is access to a gravel boat ramp and The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife states the lake is accessible by any light trailerable recreational boat. Only a trolling motor may be used on the lake, and there are generally fewer than a half-dozen boats on it at any one time.

The lake is full of bluegill, red ear, and green sunfish. Crappie and Large Mouth Bass are also common catches at Owsley. Catfish are mostly caught near the dam in the deeper water.

How old is Owsley Fork Lake?
The Owsley Fork 1300 acre basin was purchased after 1970. The Owsley Fork lake is now 151 acres with a surface area of approximately 2700ft and it’s an average depth of about 10ft. Over 30,000 customers depend on the reservoir as their primary water source.

How does the water find its way to the lake?
The 1300-acre basin is linked to the greater 4900-acre watershed controlled mostly by Berea College Forestry. There are several natural springs in the area that also contribute to the water supply.

Who manages the water in this area?
The lake is situated on land owned by Berea College and is virtually surrounded by the college forest. The lake water itself was controlled by Berea College Utilities up until the 2000s when The City of Berea acquired the rights by way of the Berea Municipal Utilities.

How can you help protect our environment by volunteering or donating to organizations like Friends of Berea College Forest, Inc.?
Friends of Berea College Forest Inc. is a non-profit conservation group whose members are dedicated to the restoration, preservation and conservation of the Forests of Berea College. It was established in 1984 for educational purposes in support of activities on the forest properties owned by Berea College. You can help with these efforts by donating or volunteering your time.

You can learn more about this organization on their website



Owsley Fork Lake is waiting with an incredible natural beauty that will make any outing unforgettable and while you are in Berea be sure to check out our many shops, restaurants, bike paths, hiking trails, and theater.