The Middle Tennessee Personal Watercraft Club continued its 5th Anniversary season with its August “Big Lake” ride to Lake Cumberland, KY. This was the club’s first excursion up to the lake, with ten PWC’s and thirteen people making the two hour drive northeast of Nashville, Tennessee to the lake.
Lake Cumberland is a reservoir in Kentucky, built in 1951 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The primary reasons for its construction were a means for flood control and the production of hydroelectric power. Its shoreline measures 1,255 miles and the lake covers 65,530 acres at the maximum power pool elevation. The reservoir ranks 9th in the U.S. in size, with a capacity of 6,100,000 acre feet of water, enough to cover the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky with 3-inches of water. The main lake is 101 miles long and over one mile across at its widest point.
Home base for MTPWC during the weekend was the Lake Cumberland Resort Lure Lodge & State Dock Marina for our steeds. We arrived at the launch ramp at 9am. It was a little challenging on setting a schedule because time zones would literally change back and forth from central to eastern on your cell phone as you would move two feet in either direction, but once all the confusion died down, we proceeded to launch the skis at the resort’s launch ramp. It was very wide in in great condition.
We had to move skis to the state dock marina and then move the trucks to the lodge, and then from the lodge you can catch a shuttle down to the marina. We shoved off Saturday around 11am. Our ride plan for the day was to head to the eastern end of the lake (around 50 miles) have lunch and return. We headed across the lake on a beautiful 82-degree day. It was very scenic with rolling hills and sheer cliffs, with many boats enjoying the day also, making our ride quite challenging.
We stopped a couple times along the way to regroup and have a water break. When we arrived at the split of the Cumberland and Big South Fork rivers there was a small marina named Burnside. They had a small patio grill were we gathered for a burger and fries and conversation. Afterwards, we leisurely headed back to state dock for the night stopping along the way for a swim and water break. Arriving back to state dock, we rented a slip to keep the skis tucked in for the night. Saturday night we gathered for a great buffet at Lure Lodge then turned in for the night.
Club members Bryce and Renee Laurie said, “The canyons were gorgeous! The wakes and traffic made the ride quite a work out – I loved it! The State Park Lodge was clean and well kept up, we were impressed with our room and even more impressed with the beautiful view of the lake from our balcony! Met up with everyone a couple hours later at the Lodge restaurant and enjoyed good friends and food.”
Sunday morning, all woke early and gathered for coffee, planning to hit the water early to avoid so much boat traffic. The ride plan was to head southwest to the dam, then to Seventy Six Falls and ride Otter Creek. It was a short trip to the dam were we took some pictures and then headed to the falls up Indian Creek. There were two no wake zones as we headed up the branch past a marina and a power transformer that made me kind of nervous sitting in the middle of the lake.
Once we passed these points, it was smooth water back to the falls. What an awesome site as we rounded the bend and it came into view, this was simply one of the coolest spots we have been on our skis. You could ride behind it and through the falling water. It became quite the playground for the club as each of us got washed by the cold water (and the facial expressions were priceless). A nearby houseboat admiring the fun we were having asked for rides through the falls, which we happily complied, only asking for a group picture in return!
The Lauries echoed, “The weather forecast was originally calling for rain days before, so we had our rain gear with us but the clouds moved out and the sun prevailed all day! We headed out to Seventy Six Falls, as I understand it, the waterfall got its name from the numerical value given to the survey area that it encompassed, and its name does not reflect the number of falls or the height of it. The waterfall was beautiful – and what fun it was to ride through it! Some folks who were parked on a houseboat next to the falls wanted that ultimate experience as well, so some of the MTPWC club members gave it to them! Several children and parents climbed aboard our member’s skis and road behind and/or through the water falls, the children screaming with pure joy! At Seventy Six Falls, the water beneath us was 83 degrees but the waterfall – that was some exhilarating cold water!”
After spending a good hour and a half there, we headed back out Indian Creek to the lake, and then a short ride to get to Otter Creek. I highly recommend this ten mile ride up this very winding and narrowing creek. We stopped at the old Zula Loop Bridge were we were exhilarated by the ride and gathered for conversation and swim time. Another hour was spent enjoying our day before returning to state dock for lunch and goodbyes. In all, we rode 160 miles over the two days and look forward to returning next year to explore the many creeks and hollows we missed this time.
Club members Jeanette and Tom Hill said, “The ride on Cumberland Lake was a great time with great people. Beautiful weather, the lake was gorgeous, rock cliffs, beaches a little of it all. Saturday’s ride was nice with the group heading to Burnside for a late lunch. Sunday’s early start for Seventy Six Falls was perfect. Lake was quieter and more of a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Being able to ride under and through the falls was definitely a highlight of the ride. Going back into Otter Creek was also fun, a bit like a slalom course. Winding up the trip with a late lunch at the State Dock marina with good company made for a great weekend! We would love to come back in the fall.”
The Lauries concluded, “Mike did a great job of coordinating the trip in spite of that he had never been there. Things went very well and timely so we could do what we love – ride! This was a great trip and we hope that it is on the ride calendar for next year too. We enjoy a lot of rides throughout the season, and this one was our favorite this year, the only way to improve it would be to add a few more days to it – there is plenty of lake to explore – could easily spend a week there!