Just a 20 minute drive outside of Abingdon’s town limits, South Holston Lake stretches over miles of open water, surrounded by pristine mountain ridges. About 60% of the shoreline is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest, and much of the shoreline is undeveloped, making it one of the most scenic lakes in Virginia. (The 7580-acre reservoir straddles the VA/TN border.)
The history behind the lake is as extensive as the lake itself. The Tennessee Valley Authority came to the area in 1942 to start construction on a dam. It was then completed in 1950. Local lore says that there were towns,farms, and graveyards flooded in order to build and create the South Holston Dam and Lake.
To help you and your family explore this undiscovered treasure in the Abingdon area, we’ve compiled a list of marinas, outfitters and public parks. From boating, to scuba diving, to fishing, to simply having a picnic on the lake, there is something for everyone and every age.
One of the biggest attractions is to boat on the lake during the summer. Many marinas offer boat rentals for families of every size. With miles of open lake there is little crowding and a great place for swimming and boating without worry.
The Sportsman’s Marina is the most convenient access point for boating, located just 15 minutes from downtown Abingdon. In addition to boat rentals, Sportsman’s offers towables, kayaks, paddle boards, Jetblades, and an Aquapark. Grab lunch at the Broken Ski Grill before heading out on the water.
Painter Creek Marina offers fully equipped half-day and full-day pontoon boat rentals, along with casual dining at the Painter Creek Grille.
Friendship Resort and Marina is a family-oriented marina surrounded by pristine national forest, offering boat rentals with seating for up to 10.
For those fishermen who have their own gear the Washington County Park is a great place to spend the day catching fish and relaxing by the lake.With many different places to stop and fish as well as other activities for the family this is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
If you are a beginner fisherman or simply want to teach your children how to fish, the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop offers fishing gear, classes and guided excursions. Or, pick up some gear at Mahoney’s Outfitters, conveniently located on Cummings Street/Hwy 75, on the way to the Lake.
There are many different kinds of fish that live in the South Holston Lake. Among some of the most popular fish are: Channel Catfish, Bluegills, Small and Large Mouth Bass and Black Bass. Learn more at the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries >
If you and your family are extreme adventurists then Adventure Diving will fit the bill! This is your chance to see the South Holston Lake close up. Through their Discover Scuba tour they provide a short lesson and then a tour of the bottom of The South Holston Lake. This is a great way to get up close and personal with this beautiful lake.
Paddleboarding and Jetskis
Just a short 15 minute drive Abingdon you’ll find the Sportsmans Marina. They offer more than just boat rentals. They can provide jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, tubes, and other water equipment for a fun day on the lake!
Places To Stay
When visiting the South Holston Lake it can be hard to only stay for one day. With the beautiful mountains, the rich local history, and small town eateries many visitors choose to stay for a few nights.
Abingdon offers a number of affordable hotels, B&Bs and cabins with easy access to South Holston Lake. For the best of both worlds, combine the comfortable lodging and great restaurants of Abingdon with a fun day on the lake. Find out more about Abingdon lodging options >
Or, for the visitors who have a wild side or simply love waking up and watching a sunrise on the lake, there are a number of campgrounds around the South Holston Lake that provide an easy drive into Abingdon for the evening. Find out more about camping options at South Holston Lake >
South Holston Lake is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day, fish, and simply enjoy the mountains on a family vacation. With so much to do it is no wonder this is a visitor hotspot!