Cave Run Lake Beach
Learn more about swimming at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky
Take your family swimming at Cave Run Lake Beach
Cave Run Lake Beach is a fantastic option for families if you are looking for a lake with a beach. We’re a family that LOVES the beach – and water in general. However, with the nearest ocean a few hours away, my kids (ages 10, 9, and 6) and I set out to find what a Kentucky beach had in store and were not disappointed.
After some research, I found Cave Run Lake, which is part of the Daniel Boone National Forrest. Cave Run, about an hour and half east of Lexington and just south of Morehead, is an 8,270 acre lake that was built for flood protection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
There are two main beaches – Zilpo and Twin Knobs. Twin Knobs is larger and somewhat easier to get to. It has a boat ramp, summer amphitheater programs and scheduled campground activities. The campground also has volleyball courts, basketball hoops and horseshoe pits as well as many other amenities.
Zilpo sits on a peninsula in the middle portion of Cave Run Lake at an elevation of 800 feet deep in the forest with the nearest community 12 miles away. We chose the path less traveled and went to Zilpo.
Since the two beaches are on opposing sides of the lake, the routes are totally different. The road to Zilpo is about 17 miles once you enter the park. There are a couple turns but they are well marked so no worries about getting misplaced. However, with curvy roads and speeds topping out around 45 mph, it does seem to take FOREVER to get back to the beach.
We did pass a couple different picnic areas – and after a long ride in the car – stopped at the Clear Creek area which we were thankful had restroom. We even stumbled upon what we referred to as a Kentucky pyramid, but was actually the remains of an iron furnace – and a history lesson opportunity!
As we continued to drive, there was a clearing which gave us an amazing view of the lake. It was breathtaking and spurred us on to continue the rest of drive through the forest! After we stopped at the guard shack further down the road and paid our $10 vehicle fee (pretty sure it’s cash only so be prepared – prices subject to change), we continued through the campgrounds to the beach parking lot. As soon as we parked and the kids saw the beach, they deemed our over two hour drive totally worth it and we got busy having fun!
We had basic things for a day at the Cave Run Lake Beach– floaties, goggles, snacks, a beach mat and towels. My older son also insisted on having his fishing poles to do some shore fishing (make sure you have your license). We found the beach itself to be really rocky instead of sandy so make sure everyone has water shoes or sandals that can get wet. We charged ahead to the water, which was just about room temperature. It was incredible! There was no adjustment time needed – we all just got straight in! The beach is well defined with buoys and a sea wall to keep everyone well contained and aware of the boundaries. My kids are good swimmers, and we had life jackets on hand just in case, but at no point was I concerned for their safety in the water.
The Cave Run Lake Beach area also had a volleyball court, some park benches, a bathroom facility, and a small general store with cold soft drinks, snacks, goggles, etc.
We were only prepared to spend the afternoon, but it’s a place I’d like to go back and spend at least the weekend. There are campsites, rental cabins, boat launches, boat rentals at the marina, hiking trails, hunting, and so many more activities to explore with family or friends. My kids and I were in total awe of the surrounding beauty and how much fun lake swimming was. They couldn’t stop talking about it. When we go back, we’ll plan on plotting out much more than just an afternoon.
Make sure as you’re planning your trip, you decide on what kind of experience you want, how much time you want to spend and check the surrounding areas for events you can tie in to your trip. Cave Run Lake is a place where you could go back just about every weekend and find something new to explore!
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