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He tees up, shoulders square to the ball and swings. The ball sails down the fairway, past the clean, clear water and weathered sandstone cliffs. Any day spent playing golf is a good day, and adding a day on the lake only makes it better. Several lakes boast waterfront golf courses, but Grayson Lake is one of the only ones with a course that is also part of a state park. The views from Grayson Lake in the Kentucky Appalachians are uncommon as well. Sandstone cliffs rise from the shore of the lake to reach 150 feet into the air offering glimpses of the lake only the birds usually see.
Grayson Lake is a reservoir created by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Construction on the dam began in 1964, and by 1968 Grayson Lake had reached normal pool, its 1,510 acres spanning parts of Elliott and Carter Counties. The lake was created to provide flood control for the Little Sandy River. The addition of the state park two years later ensured it became a popular recreation destination as well. Established in 1970, Grayson Lake State Park encompasses 1,512 acres and a significant portion of the lake's 40 mile shoreline. The state park includes a campground with tent and RV sites and miles of hiking trails. It is on land that was once considered a favorite camping ground for the Cherokee and Shawnee Indians that lived in the area. With its beautiful scenery and fantastic fishing, it is still a favorite with visitors today.
Anglers can challenge themselves against the abundant populations of spotted, large mouth, small mouth and hybrid striped bass in Grayson Lake. There are also black and white crappie, bluegill and both channel and flathead catfish. Some of the shoreline of Grayson Lake is accessible for fishing and there is good fly fishing on the portion of Laurel Creek that feeds Grayson Lake. Trout are stocked downstream from the dam. In addition to the boat ramp in the state park, there is a private marina with bait, boat rentals and access to Grayson Lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains a fishing pier and boat ramp at the Damsite Recreation Area. The Damsite Recreation Area also includes a picnic area, visitor center, and the historic Horton / Kitchen Log House. Built around 1836, the two story log house is an unusual saddlebag design, and it is being restored.
The Grayson Lake Wildlife Management Area is open to hunting in season. Deer and turkey are prevalent as are ground birds including grouse and doves. Hunters may also find a variety of waterfowl. Horses are allowed in the wildlife area and there are equestrian trails. There are trails for hiking at the Laurel Gorge Welcome Center. Laurel Creek feeds Grayson Lake and has cut a canyon through the surrounding limestone. The welcome center includes an interpretive area and museum.
Grayson Lake is in the small town of Olive Hill. It takes its name, however, from nearby Grayson. The county seat of Carter County, Grayson was named in honor of Colonel William Grayson who served under General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Its proximity to Carter Caves, Greenbo Lake, and Grayson Lake has earned it the nickname "The Heart of the Parks." The Carter Caves State Resort Park is an easy day trip from Grayson Lake. Established in 1946, the park includes 2,000 acres of wet and dry caves and natural bridge formations. It is also home to large populations of bats. Both Olive Hill and Grayson have restaurants, a variety of accommodations including vacation rentals, and any amenity a visitor might need. There is also real estate for sale for visitor wishing to extend their stay in the Kentucky Appalachians.
Soaring limestone cliffs, fantastic fishing and some of Kentucky's best golf combine to make any day at Grayson Lake a great day.
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