Discovering The ‘Jewels’ of Alabama: 13 Breathtaking Lakes Near Birmingham

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

From tranquil waters surrounded by lush forests to bustling reservoirs ideal for water sports, the lakes near Birmingham, Alabama, provide a diverse landscape for every kind of nature lover. Dive into our exploration of 13 stunning lakes, where you can cast your line for the day’s catch, discover unique aquatic ecosystems, or simply take in the serenity of Alabama’s beautiful outdoors. Pack your picnic baskets and prepare to be enchanted!

Lewis Smith Lake


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Lewis Smith Lake, just a 52-mile trip north of Birmingham, is Alabama’s deepest lake, spanning over 21,000 acres across three counties. With its clean, deep waters, it offers prime conditions for swimming and diving, especially at sites like Indian Head Rock. Once a hidden destination, it’s now a busy hotspot for water sports enthusiasts.

Lake Purdy


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Found just 30 minutes from downtown Birmingham, Lake Purdy offers much for water enthusiasts. Enjoy a day out on the lake in family-friendly pontoon boats, fish-laden bass boats, and sturdy Weld-Craft aluminum fishing boats – you can even bring your own motor! Despite restrictions to curb invasive species, there are plenty of opportunities to reel in largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, bream, and catfish.

Neely Henry Lake


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Nestled near Gadsden, Alabama, and an hour’s drive from Birmingham, Neely Henry Lake offers a tranquil retreat with a rich history. The result of the Neely Henry Dam built in 1966, the lake extends over 11,200 acres and has about 339 miles of shoreline. Neely Henry Lake is well-known for its recreational fishing, with opportunities to catch everything from bass varieties to crappie, catfish, and more. Maintained by Alabama Power, the lake provides three public access sites for a seamless experience.

Logan Martin Lake


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Just a short eastern journey from Birmingham lies Logan Martin Lake, near Pell City. This expansive body of water, created by Alabama Power Company in 1965, is known as the “Lake of a Thousand Coves,” expanding to 17,000 acres in some seasons. It’s a prime spot for boating, water skiing, fishing, swimming, and uniquely, house boating. With a variety of bass, crappie, gar, and bream, it’s also a fishing enthusiast’s dream.

Weiss Lake


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Under two hours southeast of Birmingham, Weiss Lake stretches over 30,200 acres, featuring over 447 miles of shoreline that teem with crappie, largemouth bass, and striped bass. The lake, managed by the Alabama Power Company, offers diverse fishing spots, from shallow flats to deep channels. Accompanied by amenities such as hotels and marinas, and a huge range of activities like fishing and sailing available all year round, Weiss Lake is the place to visit for some water-based adventure!

Guntersville Lake


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Guntersville Lake, a man man-made wonder spanning 75 miles and standing as Alabama’s largest lake at 69,100 acres, is a must-visit and no more than an hour and a half from Birmingham. Its ample outdoor activities like camping, fishing, and boating, coupled with its reputation as a top bass fishing spot, make it an excellent destination for those seeking some time away in nature.

Lake Martin


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An 86-mile trip from Birmingham brings you to Lake Martin, Alabama’s third-largest lake. Once recognized as the world’s largest artificial lake, it’s now a hub for activities like swimming, boating, and fishing. Visitors can explore sandy beaches, dine at waterside restaurants, and discover attractions like eagle nests and Goat Island, making it an ideal destination for those seeking outdoor excitement.

Inland Lake


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Inland Lake, nestled in Blount County, is a reservoir that boasts 1,557 acres of deep, clear water. Despite the annual significant water level fluctuation to support Birmingham’s water supply, it remains a popular spot for pleasure boating, skiing, and fishing. With two boat ramps for easy access and a routinely patrolled shoreline owned by the Birmingham Water Works and Sewer Board, it offers safety and serenity for outdoor lovers.

Lay Lake


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Located 50 miles south of Birmingham, Lay Lake is a 12,000-acre reservoir that has been a beloved fishing spot for over a century. Renowned for its largemouth and spotted bass, it also provides habitats for crappie, bream, and catfish, with the best catches often found amidst its creeks and shallow sloughs. Whether it’s tournament fishing or reconnecting with nature that you’re after, Lay Lake has got you covered.

Lake Howard

Lake Howard, situated 50 miles southeast of Birmingham within the Talladega National Forest, is a quiet 180-acre retreat for anglers. Bluegill, largemouth bass, black crappie, catfish, and a variety of sunfish flourish in these waters, providing ample fishing opportunities. It also offers access to a public park maintained by the City of Sylacauga, which features a hiking and bike trail for additional outdoor adventure.

Double Oak Lake


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Within Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest state park, lies Double Oak Lake, a charming retreat with a sandy beach. Ideal for group outings, it features volleyball courts, designated swimming areas (though no lifeguard is on duty), picnic spots, and rentable pavilions. Year after year, friends and families are drawn back to this lakeside haven, making it a staple among Birmingham’s surrounding attractions.

Bankhead Lake


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Around 15 miles west of Birmingham, Bankhead Lake covers 9,200 acres, making it the second-largest lake on the Warrior River. The reservoir offers extensive recreational opportunities, from boating and fishing to camping, facilitated by marinas, launching ramps, and supply stores. Add in the nearby Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area for hunting enthusiasts, and you have a diverse recreational haven for all seeking an escape back to nature.

Lake Tuscaloosa


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68 miles from Birmingham, Lake Tuscaloosa unfolds over 5,885 acres, presenting 177 miles of shoreline for boating, water skiing, swimming, and fishing. Established in 1971 and named after the Choctaw Indian Chieftain Tuskaloosa, this lake reaches depths of up to 92 feet. With county parks like Carroll’s Creek Island and the boat-accessible Treasure Island offering awesome hiking trails, picnic spots, and swimming areas, it’s a slice of heaven for nature lovers.

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