Kincaid Lake is a man-made lake located in Bell County, Kentucky. The lake impounds water from the Red River through a dam that spans 200 feet (61m) high and 3,300 feet (1,000m) long. It has an area of 2,400 acres (970ha). Kincaid Lake was constructed during World War II as part of a series of improvements to the Louisville area for the benefit of defense workers.
Dam construction began in 1942 by the WPA Engineers, who were later replaced by Army engineers. Work on the dike proper ended in 1944; it was officially accepted into service in June 1945. In September 1950, ownership of the lake and adjacent land was transferred from the federal government to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, becoming Kincaid Lake State Park. A new management plan was put into place in 1995, when the park became part of the Highlands Reserve Conservation Area. There are also three boat launches at the lake. Gas powered motors are prohibited on Kincaid Lake. Motorized boats must be powered by electric motors only. Sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats may be used if properly registered with any state.
Non-powered boats such as rowboats, canoe, kayaks, and paddleboats do not require registration but must display a current registration from any state or a launch permit from the Kentucky Department of Parks. Camping overnight in your non-powered boat is permitted anywhere along the shoreline. Boat camping is subject to a $10 daily parking fee. Powered boats may be kept at the marina overnight where there is ample space for many different types of watercraft. The marina features over 100 power and hand-operated boat hoists as well as several covered dry docks. These facilities are available year round and offer a variety of services to their customers including fuel sales, boat storage, boat repair, and light maintenance among others. Boat storage is particularly popular amongst campers using Kincaid Lake as they take advantage of the plentiful supply of both electricity and water during the summer months.
During the winter season, access to these amenities is limited and often requires paying a small fee in order to use the equipment. Access to the ice skating rink is free all year long. Skaters need to have their driver’s license on file with the park office in order to obtain a key to the building. Visitors needing transport to and from the airport can utilize the courtesy car service offered by the park. Several miles of trails are found within the park, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. Mountain biking is allowed on certain designated sections of trail. Hunting is permitted in much of the park, though special hunting permits are required since the park is under lease from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Though swimming is not permitted in the lake, visitors can swim at their own risk in Taylor Creek which flows directly past the north end of the lake. Boating and fishing are very common activities at Kincaid Lake. Canoeing and kayaking are especially popular amongst the youth of the community. Over 150 campsites are available at the park, split up between tent sites, full hookup RV sites, and equestrian camping areas. Picnic tables, grills, and bathhouses are provided at most of the sites. Modern restroom facilities with hot showers are accessible at two particular sites. Horse owners will appreciate one of the equestrian camping areas which provide individual horse stalls and group horse paddocks. Half of the campsites are available on a first come first served basis while the remainder must be reserved. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system, via phone, or in person at the park office.
Adjacent to main campus is the privately owned and operated Kincaid Lodge, which offers dormitory style rooms and suites, some with wood stoves, fireplace, picnic table, and barbeque grill. Located inside the lodge is the conference room, which holds up to 80 people and features a large picture window overlooking the lake. Also on site is a playground, volleyball courts, horseshoe pit, pool, and gift shop. The park also owns and operates the nearby Rock Island Trail Center, which is housed in a separate structure next to the park office. This facility includes a bike lab offering tune ups, basic skills classes, and guided rides to the lake. Other programs include hayrides, sunset hikes, kids night, annual pass holders club, holiday events, and birthday parties. Fishing licenses are issued by the state each spring. Gasoline powered boats are prohibited on Kincaid Lake. Electric powered motors are permitted, but batteries must be carried. Non powered boats must either be launched from a dock or carry a launch permit from the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The beach at Kincaid Lake is open beginning Memorial Day weekend and ending Labor Day weekend. Beginning in 2008 lifeguards will not be posted at the beach. Pets are not permitted on the beach or in bathing areas. Campsites with tents cannot accommodate pets. If a campsite is equipped with a tent pad, it must be placed on the ground behind the shelter. Backflow from the lake drains into a marshy area that is surrounded by trees and shrubs. Most of the campsites are shaded, having backflow into the lake. However, some sunny sites with adequate drainage exist. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout each winter, and a population of native brook trout exists in the upper portions of the lake.
Many species of wildlife can be seen at Kincaid Lake, including:
- bald eagles