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South Holston Lake & Dam


For some of the most gorgeous scenery in Tennessee and Virginia, an excursion to South Holston Lake and Dam is a must for visitors to the area.

This magnificent lake on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains is bordered by Cherokee National Forest and covers 7,589 acres, extending from Tennessee into Virginia. The earth and rockfill dam, completed ed in 1950, spans 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River and is 285 feet high. The dam affords visitors an incredible view of the lake and valley, making for a tremendous photo opportunity.

In 1991, the Tennessee Valley Authority built a labyrinth weir below the dam to add oxygen to the river when the hydro plant isn’t generating electricity. This oxygen-rich water helps create a sustainable habitat for fish, vegetation, and aquatic insects. The 1.8-mile Osceola Island Loop Trail provides ample opportunities to view the weir dam, observe wildlife or see fly fishermen in action. The area has been designated a world-class recreation area, and the weir dam is known as one of the top fly-fishing destinations in the country.

South Holston is among the top lakes in Tennessee and the Southeast for boating activities and smallmouth bass fishing, while fly fishing is popular in the river, which is a nationally recognized trout fishery (brook, brown, and rainbow). Trout fishing is excellent in the tailwater below South Holston Dam, matching any fishery in the nation for gigantic trout.

The South Fork Holston River is also home to an annual spring migration of white bass, while the Spring Creek embayment on South Holston Reservoir is one of the best-known waterfowl birding sites in East Tennessee.

Several trails are located in close proximity to South Holston Dam, many of which started as footpaths made by the many anglers drawn to the area. ADA accessibility is available at the fishing pier, overlook, paved trail, picnic tables, restrooms, visitors center, and water fountain.