16 Incredible Lakes near Louisville, Kentucky

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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.

Take a virtual tour with us through 16 spellbinding lakes near Louisville, Kentucky, each with its unique allure and fun outdoor activities. From the deep waters of Laurel River Lake to the unspoiled beauty of Hardy Lake, we delve into angler’s paradises, hiker’s havens, and tranquil settings to unwind.

Hardy Lake

Hardy Lake Indiana
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Hardy Lake, Indiana’s only reservoir unaltered by flood control and located just a short 45-mile journey from Louisville, promises an unspoiled natural adventure. The stable lake level, surrounded by striking bluffs and shale exposures, is an ideal setting for hiking and fishing. If you’re a wildlife lover, make sure to visit the rehabilitation center nearby where injured birds of prey are rescued and cared for!

Taylorsville Lake

Taylorsville Lake, Kentucky
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Just a stone’s throw from Louisville, Taylorsville Lake buzzes with energy and water enthusiasts on a hot summer’s day. With popular boat ramps like Settlers Trace and Possum Ridge, and water activities from waterskiing to fishing, the lake caters to both adrenaline seekers and serenity lovers alike.

Deam Lake

Horse Riding Jungle
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Head to the calm waters of Deam Lake located a comfortable 30-minute drive from Louisville. Named after Indiana’s first state forester, Charles Deam, this 194-acre lake offers plenty of popular activities, from fishing to hiking trails, and is surrounded by over 100 electric campsites. It’s a great spot for horse riding too, with an 80-mile trail in the nearby Clark State Forest.

Laurel River Lake

Scuba diving
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Laurel River Lake, a gem amid the Daniel Boone National Forest, offers over 5,600 acres of some of Kentucky’s deepest and cleanest waters, hugged by 200 miles of lush shoreline. This vast natural playground caters to various interests, from boating and water skiing for the thrill-seekers to scuba diving expeditions for the underwater explorers, and extensive trail systems for serene forest walks.

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

Stretching across three counties in southern Indiana and a 60-mile drive from Louisville, Patoka Lake offers an abundance of recreational activities. The lake’s varied common fish species and migratory birds make it a hot spot for both fishing enthusiasts and photographer lovers. Beyond water activities, the surrounding area has scenic trails, picnic spots, and a golf course, with over 500 campsites dotting the shoreline for those looking to extend their stay.

Herrington Lake

Two men fishing in a boat
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Journey an hour and a half from Louisville to discover Herrington Lake, an expansive 3,600-acre reservoir born from the monumental Dix Dam. As the deepest lake in Kentucky, Herrington Lake is renowned for outstanding fishing, teeming with species from bluegill to largemouth bass. Along with its aquatic activities, Herrington Lake caters to all sorts of outdoor adventures, guaranteeing a fun escape.

Barren River Lake

Barren River Lake, Kentucky - Lakes near Louiseville
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Just under a two-hour drive from Louisville, Barren River Lake serves as a haven for both nature enthusiasts and sports lovers. Indulge in a day of boating, fish for bass and crappie, or challenge yourself on the park’s orienteering courses nestled within a wooded setting. If you enjoy hitting the links, an award-winning golf course awaits and round out the day with a tranquil sunset view from the patio.

Nolin Lake

Camping chair by lake
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Discover Nolin Lake, a beacon for fishing enthusiasts recognized for its abundant catfish, bass, crappie, and walleye. Within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park, Nolin Lake’s unique blue-green tint adds to an impressive panorama that only adds to the fun activities – be it boating, camping, or water sports.

Lake Shelby

Man and child fishing
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Nestled within Shelbyville city limits, Lake Shelby, built in 1949, offers a splendid blend of nature and adventure. The gorgeous lake teems with a variety of common fish – from crappie to redbreast sunfish, making it a delightful family-friendly spot for teaching young ones to fish. Whether you prefer camping by its shores, canoeing its 20-acre expanse, or spotting bald eagles, Lake Shelby will be a memorable experience for every visitor.

Green River Lake

Mountain biking
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Experience the captivating allure of Green River Lake, located in Campbellsville, Kentucky’s heartland in Green River Lake State Park. Get involved in a variety of outdoor activities across its 8,210-acre expanse – from boating on the vast lake to mountain biking on 50 miles of trails. Offering lake-side campgrounds and welcoming public beaches for those warm hot summer days, Green River Lake has the perfect blend of adventure and tranquility.

Lake Monroe

Monroe Lake, Indiana
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Lake Monroe, set within Monroe County in Indiana, is under two hours from Louisville and home to an array of outdoor activities. Enjoy the sun-soaked gorgeous beaches — Fairfax, Paynetown, and Hardin Ridge — ideal for swimming, picnicking, or engaging in friendly beach games from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The lake, home to an impressive variety of fish, is a year-round haven for anglers. Off the water, the surrounding trails invite hikers and trail runners to explore the lush forests at their own pace.

Reformatory Lake

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Accessible through Wendell Moore Park, the Reformatory Lake’s western shoreline offers an array of popular activities across the park’s 107 acres. While you won’t plunge in for a swim, you can enjoy a day of fishing along the lake’s embankment, casting for species like bluegill and channel catfish.

McNeely Lake

Man fishing by a lake
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McNeely Lake, only 16 miles from downtown Louisville, offers more than a standard waterside retreat. Created in the 1950s on donated land, this artificial lake serves as a peaceful sanctuary amidst the busy Louiseville. Embrace the chance to paddle amongst ducks, cast a line for bluegill and catfish, or simply soak in the tranquility of this forested haven.

LaGrange Quarry

Adult falling off paddleboard
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Also known as Falling Rock or simply “the Quarry”, LaGrange Quarry is the ideal spot for adults looking to unwind from the chaos of kids! Renowned statewide for its crystal-clear water, it stands as an amazing destination for swimming or simply basking in the blue tranquility. Falling Rock Park’s pristine, adult-only setting is a true oasis for those seeking an idyllic aquatic, fun-filled escape.

Lake Jericho

Family picnic near a lake
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Just over 30 miles northeast of Louisville, Lake Jericho has an appealing blend of outdoor recreation and natural beauty. Born from the Little Kentucky River for flood control and leisure, Lake Jericho serves as a welcoming host for picnicking and camping along its eastern shore. The beautiful lake’s waters invite anglers to cast their lines for largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, and white crappie.

Mirror Lakes

Fishing rod close up
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Embrace the joy of uncomplicated fishing at Mirror Lakes, nestled within Fisherman’s Park, 20 miles southeast of Louisville. These six calm lakes, spanning roughly 15 acres and open to the public since 1987, provide a refuge for angling enthusiasts in search of largemouth bass, rainbow trout, or blue catfish. With no frills and distractions, Mirror Lakes offers a focus on the simple pleasure of casting a line in peaceful surroundings.

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Apostle Islands
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Havasu Falls
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Olympic National Park Hoh Rainforest
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