Discover South Holston Lake

Visiting South Holston Lake & Holston River

A mere 20 minutes from downtown Bristol sits beautiful South Holston Lake. Widely considered one of most beautiful lakes in the Southeast with its sapphire colored water and sweeping views of the Cherokee National Forrest, which surrounds nearly two thirds of its shoreline. Much like Bristol itself, this mountain lake is two places at once: perfect for avid outdoorsmen with its world class boating and fishing, as well as being accessible and convenient for a casual stroll along one of many shoreside trails and scenic lookouts.

If you’re visiting Bristol to take in the great outdoors, some time on South Holston should surely be on the list.

Learn More About South Holston Lake, River & Dam


South Holston Lake Trip Ideas

Start your trip off at the scenic South Holston Dam, an earth-and-rockfill dam that rises 285 feet high, stretching 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River. Visitors can stop in at the visitor center to learn more about the history of the dam, or set off on an adventure by taking the footbridge over to Osceola Island. A one mile looping trail in and around the island brings nature into focus as you site different species of birds such as wood ducks, green heron, rare songbirds, bald eagles, as well as deer and other wildlife.

Dive on in to South Holston Lake!

Beautiful water, stunning views and plentiful options for taking it all in. South Holston features numerous marinas on both the Tennessee and Virginia sides of the lake that offer boat, kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals. Sportsmans Marina features the always delicious, Broken Ski Grill as well as SoHo Xcursions, for family fun water activities such as jetblades or their Aqua Park. Laurel Marina and Yacht Club offers visitors a ship store for all your boating and fishing needs including apparel, footwear and accessories. Grab a bite to eat at their restaurant, Price’s Too, where you can take in live music on summer Saturdays. Painter’s Creek Marina offers a variety of pontoon and runabout boat rentals, a on-location boating and fishing supply, convenience store, and dining at the Painter Creek Grille. The lake also features numerous public boat slips and recreational areas that are easily accessible to start your day on the water.

Plans to put-in shoreside? Visitors have many options for both RV and tent camping. Spots include Jacobs Creek Recreations Park & Camping, Camper’s Cove, Driftwood Campground, Lakeshore Campgrounds, Little Oak Campground, and Washington County Park.


Holston River – An Angler’s Paradise

Known affectionately as the SoHo, the South Holston River has a growing reputation as one of the best rivers in the country with over 10,000 fish per mile. Offering anglers the perfect setting to pull in trophy size wild brown trout or rainbow trout, with average fish measuring 12-20 inches, its gentle flow and relatively even elevation makes it the perfect place for all experience levels.

Bristol has everything you’ll need to enjoy the South Holston as well, with experienced outfitters such as Mountain Sports Limited, South Holston Fly Shop, and Bass Pro Shops. Mountain Sports Limited and South Holston Fly Shop also offer guided fly fishing trips and planned excursions, visit their websites to learn more or to book a trip.

fly fishing bristol tennessee virginia

The South Holston River is ranked one of the best trout tail-waters in the southeast

Additionally, and not to be outdone, the North Fork of the Hoslton River is legendary for bass fishing, one of the top 10 rivers in the country. Small mouth, large mouth, and white bass are plentiful with rod bowing 14-18 inch bass common.

One thing is for certain, there is something for everyone, whether that’s lake, shore, or river. We hope you enjoy your adventure to discover Bristol.

Learn More About Fishing in Bristol

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