Cave Run Lake


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Cave Run Lake
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There are three campgrounds at Cave Run Lake that are operated by the United States Forest Service; Clear Creek Campground, Zilpo Campground, and Twin Knobs Campground.

We've made many weekend trips to the Clear Creek Campground at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky.  Clear Creek Campground is approximately 13 miles before reaching Zilpo Campground which is on Cave Run Lake.  It is a very small campground as far as the number of sites, but the sites there are quite large and mostly very private.  There is some distance between all sites with trees and growth in between.  There are two loops in the campground.  As you pull in one loop goes to the left and the other goes to the right.  The sites along the back of the campground pretty much run parallel and next to the Clear Creek stream.   All sites have fire rings, lantern poles and picnic tables.  The campground also has several water spigots and two concrete block outhouses.  Garbage can be disposed of in the dumpsters next to the additional parking area.  There are two double sites in the campground, each with double amenities.  You can hike from one end of the campground over to the Iron Furnace and family picnic area.   There are a few trails leading from the area.  In the past we have met several mountain bike rider groups running the trails out of the picnic area.  The picnic area is situated around the Iron Furnace.   At the far end of the Iron Furnace Picnic grounds you can walk to Clear Creek Lake.  Clear Creek Lake is very popular for fishing and also has a dock at the far side where people swim.  This is Katrina's all around favorite campground, even with no hookups.

Leaving the campground and heading to Cave Run Lake is the Pioneer Weapons Hunting Area.  I really like this chunk of land.  There are numbered gravel roads through the forest in the hunting area.  Driving around these roads we have seen all sorts of wildlife; deer, owls, snakes, hawks, etc., just to name a few.  At the beginning of the Pioneer Weapons Hunting Area is a gravel road that leads to the Leatherwood Boat ramp on Cave Run Lake.  Driving down the gravel road are lots of off the road locations for people to camp if they don't want to be in a campground. 

Keep heading to Zilpo and you will pass the Tater Knob Lookout Tower.  The tower was built to watch for fires and in the past was manned around the clock.  Today it is a tourist attraction.  There is no fee to climb to the top.  Just a good set of legs, healthy knees, and a lack of vertigo is required.  Not that the tower itself is that extremely tall, just that it sits on top of a knob that has to be conquered before reaching the base of the tower.  The view, however, is worth the climb.

Further on down the road is Zilpo Campground.  Zilpo is a large campground with many loops.  They offer water and electric but not at all sites.  The campground has a boat ramp, beach, camp store, RV storage lot and bath houses in each loop.  They have marked trails for hiking.  The best spots with the most trees and privacy are located in the far end of the campground.  The loops toward the entrance have less trees and are somewhat closer to each other.  While at the beach you can actually look across and down the lake to see the beach at the Twin Knobs Campground.  Zilpo has a gated entrance with posted visiting hours.  Day visitors are allowed in on a fee basis.  One can also pay a fee to enjoy the beach or bath houses if not camping on the property.  Reservations are highly recommended!  They hold open a few 'first come, first served' sites that are generally taken early in the day. 

On the opposite side of the lake, in an entirely different county is Twin Knobs Campground.  Twin Knobs is also a large campground on the same level as Zilpo.  It has been literally years since I have stayed there so I really cannot comment on it overmuch.  They do have the same amenities as Zilpo. 

Cave Run Lake is a man made lake.  The Cave Run Dam and the fish hatchery are located close to Twin Knobs Campground.  The hatchery is at the base of the dam.  You can drive across the dam and there are several hunting and fishing stores in the area. 

This is close to home for us and gives us a chance to sit around the fire and enjoy the scenery around Cave Run Lake and the Red River Gorge.


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This site was last updated 06/30/14