U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
2204 Fishtrap Road
Shelbiana, KY 41562-9716
Phone: (606) 437-7496
Directions: From Pikeville - 12 miles East on U.S. 460 then 2 miles East on State Route 1789.
Fishtrap Lake is contained by the
highest dam in Eastern Kentucky. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
developed the project after the people of Levisa Fork valley expressed
the need for flood control. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers welcomes
you and your family to this vital flood control and recreation
development project. Come and enjoy the natural scenic beauty of
southeastern Kentucky countryside and the recreational facilities at
The lake is located entirely in Pike County on the Levisa Fork of
theBig Sandy River near the states of Virginia and West Virginia.
Fishtrap Lake’s primary purpose is reduction of flood damages along
Levisa Fork, Big Sandy River and the Ohio River, with minimal
reductions on the Mississippi. At its maximum (flood storage) level,
the lake would contain more than 54 billion gallons of water. During
the summer recreation season, the lake is 16.5 miles long, has a
surface area of 1,131 acres and contains about 12 billion gallons of
water. It is 84 feet deep at the intake structure during summer pool.
Part of this water is released all year for municipal water supply at
Pikeville, 15 miles downstream from the dam. After extensive field
studies and cost estimates were made, Congress appropriated funds.
Construction began in February 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson
dedicated the project on October 26, 1968. The dam, built of native
rock with a clay waterproof core, is 195 feet high and 1,000 feet long.
The job required moving five million cubic yards of rock and earth. An
outstanding job or rock treatment called a 'stairstep' excavation at
the left end of the dam exposes the 330,000,000 year old Pennsylvania
Period strata. Release of water from the lake is controlled by gates in
the tower-like 'intake structure' located at the left end of the dam.
From that structure, the water flows through a 15-½ foot diameter
tunnel and discharges back into the Levisa Fork below the dam. If the
lake should rise above its maximum permissible level during storage of
potential floodwaters, then the four 'tainter' gates located in the
spillways would be used to control additional releases. It is the
policy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide a safe, healthy
family recreational environment. All recreational areas are closed from
10:00 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. except for persons engaged in boating,
fishing and camping. For the self motivated person, Fishtrap Lake
offers many volunteer activities including, campground host, lake clean
ups, tree and flower planting, wildlife enhancement programs such as,
bird house building and placement, food plot planting, and fish
attractor programs, just to name a few. For more information please
contact the Volunteer Program Coordinator at the project office.
Restrooms are located at the Project Office, Marina parking lot,
Outflow/Below Dam Area, Lower Picnic Area, Grapevine Recreation Area,
Grapevine Campground, and Lick Creek Recreation Area.Historical Info
Archaeological investigations in the Fishtrap lake area resulted in the
recording of 33 prehistoric native American sites including 1 rock
shelter, 8 late prehistoric village sites, and 24 open camp sites.
Excavations at what is called the Sloane site at Woodside recovered
65,000 artifacts, now stored at the University of Kentucky. Life-styles
of the pioneers, primarily of English and Scot Ancestry, consisted
mainly of subsistence farming, hunting, trapping and timbering. The
mountains provided a degree of security and privacy and also fostered
an isolation of early cultural traits. Pike County was formed from a
part of Floyd County in December of 1821, and was named in honor of the
popular military hero, General Zebulon M. Pike. Later historical
studies focus primarily on the Hatfield-McCoy feud in which Pike
County, and what is now Mingo County, West Virginia, played major
A developed hiking and horseback riding can be accessed at the Lick
Creek Recreation area where the trail begins. Also, several local
equestrians and hikers do use existing oil/gas well roads.
For more information: http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/projects/lakes/frl/