15 Best Lakes in Alabama

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Over three percent of the state of Alabama is made up of water. In fact, it is home to one of the longest navigational waterways in the country. The state is also made up of mountains, valleys, streams, rivers and lakes.

There are over 100 lakes spread across Alabama, many of which are relaxing vacation destinations. Plus, with the great climate in this southern state they are open all year! These are the best lakes in Alabama:

1. Guntersville Lake, Jackson & Marshall Counties

Guntersville LakeSource: HildeAnna / shutterstock
Guntersville Lake

Alabama’s largest lake sits between the cities of Guntersville and Bridgeport in the northern part of the state. The 121 kilometre stretch of shoreline is dotted with parks and accommodations, and offers an abundance of recreational activities.

There is a boat dock, a designated swimming area, a beach and picnic areas along the shorelines, as well as a public fishing pier. There are also boat launches for those that want to fish further to catch some bass.

Surrounding Guntersville Lake is over 2,400 hectare of woodlands that offers hiking, biking and bird watching. Birds that may be spotted include lesser scaup, red-breasted mergansers, gadwells and even bald eagles!

2. Lewis Smith Lake, Cullman, Walker & Winston Counties

Lewis Smith Lake, AlabamaSource: dave_warren80 / Flickr
Lewis Smith Lake

Located along the Black Warrior River, Lewis Smith Lake is one of Alabama’s clearest lakes. For this reason is it a popular holiday destination, as well as being a popular place for holiday-home buyers.

The three-fingered lake has a shoreline of over 800 kilometres that is perfect for swimming, boating and other water sports. Fishing is also desirable here, particularly bass.

The lake is home to numerous coves that just add to its beauty. It also features the 21 metre high Indian head cliff jump, although take caution when plunging down into the water below.

3. Lake Martin, Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties

Lake Martin, AlabamaSource: Shackleford Photography / shutterstock
Lake Martin

This 17,800 hectare lake boasts over 1,200 kilometres of wooded shoreline. At the time it was built, Lake Martin was the world’s largest man-made body of water.

It is a picturesque lake that is just south of Alexander City and is a popular summer getaway for locals of the city, as well as other cities in the southern USA. It offers great swimming, water skiing, boating and fishing.

There are walking trails surrounding the lake that are great for enjoying nature and spotting local birds. Lake Martin is also home to numerous small islands, though most are not occupied.

4. Wheeler Lake, Madison County

Wheeler Lake, AlabamaSource: gurdonark / Flickr
Wheeler Lake

Wheeler Lake sits along the Tennessee River in the very north part of Alabama. The 96.5 kilometre river stretches from the Wheeler Dam to Guntersville Dam, making it the second largest lake in the state.

The lake is a major tourist attraction that draws around four million visitors each year. Most come for the camping, boating and fishing.

Just upstream from the lake is the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, which is a popular fishing spot. There are also a few golf courses nearby.

5. Neely Henry Lake, Calhoun, Etowah & St. Clair counties

Neely Henry Lake, AlabamaSource: AlabamaLandAgent / Flickr
Neely Henry Lake

This 4,500 hectare lake is located along the Coosa River, around one hour northeast of Birmingham. Neely Henry Lake was formed by the dam of the same name and named after a senior executive of Alabama Power.

The lake boasts over 540 kilometres of shoreline that offers places to swim, picnic and bird watch. It is also a well-known fishing spot, particularly for largemouth bass and spotted bass.

There are numerous cabins for rent along the shoreline and in close proximity to the lake. There are also places to hire a boat.

6. Weiss Lake, Cherokee County

Weiss Lake, AlabamaSource: CameraGirlUSA / Flickr
Weiss Lake

Weiss Lake is shared with the neighbouring state of Georgia, although 90 per cent of it is within Alabama. The 13,000 hectare lake is formed from water from the Coosa River, Chattooga River and Little River.

Weiss Lake boasts over 700 kilometres of shoreline that is lined with privately owned hotels and marinas. There are also numerous campgrounds for those that would rather sleep under the stars.

Striped bass, largemouth bass and crappie can be found in the lake, making it a popular fishing destination. The best time to fish for bass is between February and May, while crappie season is from March until May.

7. Lake Wedowee, Randolph County

Lake Wedowee, AlabamaSource: Steve Zumwalt / Flickr
Lake Wedowee

Sitting on the upper part of the Tallapoosa River, Lake Wedowee was built at one of Alabama’s last hydro sites. The 43,000 hectare lake was created by the flooding behind the R.L. Harris Dam.

The lake is known for its recreation activities, which include swimming, boating and water skiing. Still, the main draw is its great fishing thanks to its large bass population.

There are a few public boat launches around the lake for those that bring their own boat. Flat Rock Park sits at the west end of the lake and is a great spot to go swimming.

8. Lay Lake, St. Clair, Talladega, Shelby, Coosa & Chilton counties

Lay Lake, AlabamaSource: BJ Ray / shutterstock
Lay Lake

Sitting just 35-minutes away from the city of Birmingham, Lay Lake is a reservoir that is over 4,800 hectares and is used for recreation. It is also used for hydroelectric generation.

Lay Lake is known for its fishing tournaments, particular for bass. There is also an abundance of crappie in the lake.

There are seven public access areas to the lake where boaters can enter the lake, five of which also have docks. Visitors that want to explore on land can visit the nearby Heritage Trail Pioneer Village.

9. Jordan Lake, Elmore County

Jordan Lake, AlabamaSource: BJ Ray / shutterstock
Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake is a 2,800 hectare reservoir near the centre Alabama. It is a recreational lake that sits along the Coosa River.

The lake boasts a shoreline that is over 300 kilometres that is dotted with cabins, cottages, camping sites and marinas. Boating, fishing and swimming are the most popular activities enjoyed on the lake.

The sport fish found most in Jordan Lake are bass, bluegill, crappie and sunfish. There are also a various catfish in the lake.

10. Walter F. George Lake, Barbour County

Walter F. George LakeSource: j.s. clark / Flickr
Walter F. George Lake

Sitting along the Chattahoochee River, Walter F. George Lake is shared with neighbouring Georgia, as it sits right on the state line. The lake is often known as Lake Eufaula due to the city it sits in.

Walter F. George Lake was named after a Georgia state senator and controlled by the US Army Corp of Engineers. Its 1,030 kilometre shoreline offers plenty of recreational activities, both in and out of the water.

The Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge and Lakepoint State Park sit along the shoreline of the lake and offer plenty of recreational activities. These include camping, swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.

11. Lake Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County

Lake TuscaloosaSource: AJ4TBama / Wikimedia
Lake Tuscaloosa

Lake Tuscaloosa was created during the damming of the North River for residents of Tuscaloosa. Today, as well as providing water to residents, it is also a popular place for recreational activities.

The 238,200 hectare reservoir has a 285 kilometre shoreline where visitors can swim and go fishing. Common fish in the lake include various bass, redear sunfish, bluegill and crappie

It is quite a beautiful lake, particularly at sunset. There are numerous cabins and cottages surrounded the lake, as well as lavish homes.

12. Logan Martin Lake, St. Clair & Talladega counties

Logan Martin LakeSource: cmh2315fl / Flickr
Logan Martin Lake

Another Coosa Rover lake, though this is small with a 443 kilometre shoreline. It is also 34 metres deep, making it a great lake for recreational activities.

Hordes of visitors come to Logan Martin Lake to enjoy water skiing, swimming and boating. It also offers some good fishing, with largemouth bass and spotted bass being in abundance.

There are two boat ramps and a marina on the lake, as well as numerous places to stay for the night. The communities surrounding the lake are home to some magnificent multi-million dollar homes.

13. Wilson Lake, Colbert, Lauderdale & Lawrence counties

Source: Paul's Captures (paul-mashburn.artistwebsites.com) / Flickr
Wilson Lake (Wilson Dam)

Wilson Lake sits in northern Alabama and was created by the Wilson Dam. The 24 kilometre long lake stretches from the city of Florence to the Wheeler Dam.

The lake is popular for anglers, as it has an abundance of catfish, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Fishing can be done by boat or along the banks of the 6,272 hectare lake.

There are harbours along the lake, as well as camping facilities at the very east side of it close to the dam.

14. Bankhead Lake, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa & Walker counties

Bankhead LakeSource: Nerd Photography (back on-line) / Flickr
Bankhead Lake

Located along the Black Warrior River, Bankhead Lake was formed in 1915 during the building of the Bankhead Dam. It is the second largest lake along the river at 3,723 hectares.

The lake’s shoreline is quite developed with private residences, rental properties and marinas. There are also five public boat launches around the lake.

Bankhead Lake is best known to anglers for its spotted and largemouth bass. There are also plenty of crappie, stripped bass and rainbow trout and catfish.

15. Lake Lurleen State Park, Tuscaloosa County

Lake Lurleen State ParkSource: Outdoor Alabama Photos / Flickr
Lake Lurleen State Park

This publicly owned recreation area is used for boating, fishing, paddle boating and swimming. The lake is also known for its abundance of catfish, largemouth bass, bream and crappie.

There are 91 campsites along the shoreline of the 658 hectare lake. There is also a fantastic 37 kilometre system of trails surrounding the lake that is great for hiking and mountain biking.

Lake Lurleen State Park features a beach, picnic areas, play areas and boat launch areas. It is a great place to spend a day or to enjoy a vacation.

15 Best Lakes in Alabama:

  • Guntersville Lake, Jackson & Marshall Counties
  • Lewis Smith Lake, Cullman, Walker & Winston Counties
  • Lake Martin, Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties
  • Wheeler Lake, Madison County
  • Neely Henry Lake, Calhoun, Etowah & St. Clair counties
  • Weiss Lake, Cherokee County
  • Lake Wedowee, Randolph County
  • Lay Lake, St. Clair, Talladega, Shelby, Coosa & Chilton counties
  • Jordan Lake, Elmore County
  • Walter F. George Lake, Barbour County
  • Lake Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County
  • Logan Martin Lake, St. Clair & Talladega counties
  • Wilson Lake, Colbert, Lauderdale & Lawrence counties
  • Bankhead Lake, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa & Walker counties
  • Lake Lurleen State Park, Tuscaloosa County