Research reveals the following facts about Smith Lake:
Formal name: Lewis Smith Lake––nickname is "Smith Lake"––the name honors Lewis Martin Smith, President of Alabama Power 1952-1957
Completed: this manmade lake was completed in 1961 by Alabama Power Company primarily impounding the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River
In service: the dam entered service in 1961 on September 5
Dam: the lake is held by a manmade 300 ft earthen dam, one of few in the country, and among the largest
Watershed: the watershed area is over 900 square miles (drainage area 944 square miles), with a retention time of about 435 days, a maximum depth near 264 feet, and surface elevation at 510 feet
Size: Approx 21,200 acres of deep clean clear emerald water
Shoreline Size: Over 500 miles of shoreline
Volume: the volume of the lake is approx 1,670,700 acre feet
Length: A debatable length from end-to-end is about 35 miles
Shape: The lake offers some wide open bays, but also more often are long narrower and winding areas between with countless coves and sloughs begging to be explored. At times the lake visually resembles a river as it has shore visibility of both sides at all times. The overall shape of the lake has been said to resemble a crooked "W"
Location: located in the center of North Alabama, about 35 miles north of Birmingham off I65 and about 45 miles southwest of Huntsville off I65. A normal drive from Birmingham or Huntsville is about an hour to the central lake area .
Lies within 3 counties: Cullman, Walker & Winston
By road each of the anchor capital cities (Cullman, Jasper and Double Springs)—imagine them in a triangle formation—are on average, about 45 mins apart
Depths: recreational water depths can average around 120 ft+ in the deepest channels depending on water levels. There can be very steep underwater drop-offs to deep water in some areas, others offer a more gradual slope into 30-50+ depths in the shallower areas of the lake. The average depth is reported to be about 66 feet.
River: The Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River, Alabama's well-known and only wild and scenic river, flows through the Bankhead National Forest
Branches: many dozen beautiful creeks/streams/branches feed into the lake, the main creeks/channels are mostly known locally as Sipsey Fork, Rock Creek, and Ryan Creek. Other well known creeks or areas are: Ryan Creek's Goat Island bay area, Simpson Creek, Miller Flats, Sulphur Springs/Lick Branch, Pigeon Roost, Coon Creek, Crooked Creek, White Oak Creek, Dismal Creek, Bear Branch, Clear Creek, Brushy Creek, Yellow Creek, and so many other "branches". A detailed google map is linked below.
Protected areas: the northwestern side of the lake's watershed is surrounded by the 180k acre Bankhead National Forest in the southern portion of the Cumberland Plateau
The Sipsey Wilderness "Land of a Thousand Waterfalls" lies within the Bankhead National Forest
Terrain: many types of natural terrain exist all over the lake from end-to-end—flat lots that step gently into the lake, and more often beautiful high ground sloping sharply off the water on picturesque banks offering grand views, and steep rock bluffs, deep ravines and rocky shorelines
Access: getting to the lake is quick and easy - access the Cullman side primarily off I-65 from exits 299 & 304, and for the Walker side, off the Jasper veins from I-22, and the Winston side can be accessed through Cullman and Walker as well
Activities: there are innumerable activities to enjoy on Smith Lake:
Boating, all kinds (cabin cruisers, wake boats, pontoons, jet boats, fishing boats, kayaks, canoes, jet-skiing, even sailboats in designated areas, etc...)
Fishing for Crappie, Bream, Rainbow Trout; Striped, Spotted, White and Largemouth Bass; Channel & Flathead Catfish
Wildlife spotting - such as abundant deer, fox, raccoons, groundhogs, chipmunks, etc...
Birdwatching - Eagles, Blue Herons, Mallard Ducks, Canadian Geese, songbirds, hummingbirds, etc...
And so many more general lake activities - swimming, camping, hiking, the possibilities are simply endless
...and that's just ON the lake - the three counties that surround the lake offer so much more to do outside the lake area year round
If you would like more information about our area, we encourage you to check with the local Chamber of Commerce for each city/county and/or the tourism boards in those areas. In the spirit of a true southerner's style, they will all graciously provide even more detailed information about their specific areas.