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Douglas Lake, also known as Douglas Reservoir, stretches out over more than 28,000 acres and 500 shoreline miles in eastern Tennessee. Douglas Lake is conveniently located near the intersections of Interstates 81 and 40, approximately 25 miles east of Knoxville. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Douglas Reservoir is close to the tourist communities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. Most of the lake's shoreline is privately owned farmland and residential development.
Douglas Lake was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) during World War II to provide needed hydroelectric power for the war effort. Construction of Douglas Dam on the French Broad River began in 1942, and was completed in record time just 12 months later. Douglas Reservoir also provides flood control across the Tennessee Valley. The reservoir stores melted snow and spring rains for release during the dry summer months for power generation and maintenance of navigable water levels on the Tennessee River. The lower water levels during winter provide storage for next spring's rains. Water levels on Douglas Lake can vary 40 to 50 feet from low winter pool to high summer pool.
Although built for flood control and power generation, today Douglas Lake is a major recreation destination attracting two million visitors a year. Twelve public boat ramps provide lake access. Fishing, boating, water sports, swimming, and bird watching are popular lake activities. As water levels drop during the summer and fall, shore birds, wading birds, and other waterfowl flock to Douglas Lake to rest and feed along the shoreline's shallow water. Birdwatchers enjoy the migration from late July to early October.
Anglers flock to Douglas Lake for catches of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish (channel, blue, and flathead). Late winter and early spring also provide excellent fishing for sauger, walleye, and white bass when they make their spawning runs to the reservoir's headwaters. Although most game fish sustain a healthy population, occasional stocking of smallmouth bass, white crappie, and sauger supplement their numbers.
The TVA operates the Douglas Dam Headwater Campground and the Douglas Dam Tailwater Campground. Both self-service campgrounds include more than 60 campsites with water and electric hookups, restrooms with heated showers, boat ramp, picnic tables, and wildlife viewing area. The Headwater Campground also offers a swimming beach and the Trotter Bluff Small Wild Area, a 3/4 mile walking trail through 30 acres of hardwood forest with limestone sinkholes, views of Douglas Dam, and abundant wildflowers during the spring. The Tailwater Campground offers children's play equipment, river fishing with fishing pier, a bait and tackle shop, and a group pavilion that can be booked for special events. The TVA welcomes visitors to the Douglas Dam and power station.
For some off-water fun, take a day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America's most visited national park. View awe-inspiring mountain vistas by car or on foot. The park has over 800 miles of hiking trails, ranging from short jaunts to strenuous treks. And with 1,500 black bears living in the Park, visitors hope to get a view of these magnificent animals. As the sun sets over the Smokies, return to Douglas Lake to prepare for the next day's adventures.
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