Created in 1961, Lewis Smith Lake covers over 21,000 acres in three separate Alabama counties. Designed to produce hydroelectric power from the Lewis Smith Dam, the lake also provides recreation for residents and visitors. With mild winter temperatures and hot and humid summers, this lake has year-round activities and is a beloved destination for families. From picnicking to boating and fishing, there is something for everyone. The western side of the lake is home to the Bankhead National Forest. It’s home to the largest tree in Alabama, which is a site to behold. Visitors also enjoy birdwatching, four developed campgrounds, and hiking trails that lead to a beautiful waterfall. Find the perfect Lewis Smith Lake vacation rental, and use this list of our ten favorite family activities to start planning.
1. Go Fishing
Lewis Smith Lake has over 70 species of fish for the taking. Grab a fishing pole and head with the family to the upper end of the lake where fish are aplenty. The spotted bass can be quite smart in the clear waters, so it’s a good idea to choose a deep cove, or cast into one of the tributaries of Sipsey River and Brushy Creek. You can also grab your favorite lures and try for some fresh trout. The state stocks the lake with over 50,000 basses each year, so its easy to get lucky.
2. Rent a Boat
There are approximately 15 boat ramps on Lewis Smith Lake, including one at Arrowhead Park, and another at Brushy Creek. If you don’t have your own craft to put in the water, you can rent one at one of the Marinas, including the Castle Rock Marina, or the Duncan Bridge Marina.
3. Water Skiing
With deep waters and plenty of space to roam, Lewis Smith Lake is the ideal place to grab your skis and slide across the water. During the week, the water is smooth as glass, which is a skier’s paradise. If you prefer rockier waters, the weekend is the perfect time to practice your jumps on the boat wakes.
4. Camp Beside the Cool Water
Surrounding the lake, you’ll find a 150-acre park that’s ideal for spending time in nature. Stay in one of the park’s cabin vacation rentals, or bring your RV and hook up at one of over 200 full-service sites. If you prefer to go off-grid, there are multiple campsites along the 500 miles of shoreline. These sites are open year-round, so you can go during the summer peak season, or take a trip when the weather starts getting cool to avoid the crowds.
5. Rent Paddle Boats
For those who like to slow things down, you can rent paddle boats for a romantic cruise on the water in the evening. For families, you can opt for a three-seater, or rent several boats and enjoy a friendly race. The paddle boats offer excellent exercise, and you can rent them with or without sunshades, depending on your personal preferences.
6. Schedule a Round of Miniature Golf
If you want to take a break from the water, you can spend the afternoon playing 18 holes of miniature golf. Close to the mini golf location, there are picnic tables, a playground for children, and a swimming pool for those who prefer the crystal blue water.
7. Visit the Natural Bridge of Alabama
If you want to travel the area around the lake, the Natural Bridge of Alabama is an intriguing place to explore. This 148-foot sandstone bridge stands 60 feet above various footpaths. Created by thousands of years of wind, this bridge is the longest natural bridge in the southeast. There are concession stands, a gift shop, natural gardens, and a plenty of trails.
8. Visit the Smith Lake Dam
One of the largest rock-filled dams in the eastern United States, the Smith Lake Dam is located on the Sipsey Fork tributary. There are several bed and breakfasts close by and a variety of restaurants and shops. The dam is a popular fishing spot among locals, and there are white sandy beaches for sunbathing or just relaxing.
9. Go Bike Riding
For cycle enthusiasts, the Clear Creek area of Lewis Smith Lake provides miles of bike trails. There are paved and natural trails, so you can choose the texture you prefer. Pets are also welcome for those who like to bring their furry friend along. The Clear Creek Park has restrooms and showers, allowing you to clean up after a day out riding.
10. See a Concert
Nestled near the banks of Lewis Smith Lake at the Smith Lake Park, you will find a performance stage area for special events. Bring the family to hear a concert from a local act, and you’ll also find a fireworks display on the fourth of July. On New Year’s the stage hosts a New Year’s Eve party where guests can bring in the New Year next to the water.