Geography of Fentress County, Tennessee

Fentress County, nestled in the heart of the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee, boasts a diverse geographical landscape shaped by its rugged terrain, scenic rivers, lush forests, and abundant wildlife. The county’s geography is characterized by its hilly topography, deep gorges, and numerous waterways, including rivers, creeks, and lakes. Fentress County’s climate is influenced by its elevation and proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, resulting in mild winters, warm summers, and ample rainfall throughout the year. In this comprehensive overview, we will explore the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other natural features of Fentress County, Tennessee.┬áCheck homethodology to learn more about the state of Tennessee.

Geography and Climate:

Fentress County covers an area of approximately 499 square miles in the northeastern part of Tennessee. It is bordered by Pickett County to the north, Scott County to the west, Morgan County to the east, and Cumberland County to the south. The county seat, Jamestown, is located near the center of the county.

The landscape of Fentress County is predominantly mountainous and forested, with elevations ranging from around 800 feet in the valleys to over 2,000 feet in the higher elevations. The county is situated within the Cumberland Plateau, a dissected plateau known for its rugged terrain, sandstone cliffs, and deep gorges. The plateau was formed millions of years ago by the erosion of sedimentary rock layers, resulting in the dramatic landscape seen today.

Fentress County experiences a humid subtropical climate, characterized by mild winters, warm summers, and relatively high humidity throughout the year. Average high temperatures in the summer typically range from the upper 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit, while winter highs average in the 40s to 50s Fahrenheit. The county receives an average of around 50 inches of precipitation annually, with rainfall distributed fairly evenly throughout the year. Snowfall is relatively rare but can occur during the winter months, particularly in the higher elevations.

Rivers and Creeks:

Fentress County is crisscrossed by several rivers and creeks, which play a vital role in shaping the county’s landscape and providing habitats for a variety of plant and animal species.

The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River is one of the most significant waterways in Fentress County. It flows in a northeasterly direction through the western part of the county, carving out the rugged gorge known as the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Designated as a National Park unit, the Big South Fork offers opportunities for hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, and scenic overlooks.

Other notable rivers in Fentress County include the Clear Fork River and the Obey River, both of which flow through the eastern part of the county. These rivers are tributaries of the Cumberland River and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife. The Clear Fork River, in particular, is renowned for its pristine waters and excellent trout fishing opportunities.

Numerous smaller creeks and streams meander through Fentress County’s valleys and hollows, contributing to the county’s hydrology and providing sources of water for agriculture, industry, and recreation.

Lakes and Reservoirs:

Fentress County is home to several lakes and reservoirs, both natural and man-made, which offer recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

Dale Hollow Lake, located in the northern part of the county, is one of the most famous lakes in Tennessee and is renowned for its clear waters and scenic beauty. Formed by the impoundment of the Obey River, Dale Hollow Lake stretches approximately 27,000 acres across the Tennessee-Kentucky border, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, and camping.

In addition to Dale Hollow Lake, Fentress County contains several smaller reservoirs, such as the Lillydale Lake and the Wilder Lake, which provide additional opportunities for fishing and boating.


Fentress County, Tennessee, offers a diverse and picturesque landscape characterized by its mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests. From the rugged cliffs of the Big South Fork to the pristine waters of Dale Hollow Lake, the county’s natural features provide a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. As stewards of this rich natural heritage, it is essential to preserve and protect the county’s environment for future generations to enjoy. Through conservation efforts and responsible land management, Fentress County can continue to thrive as a vibrant and scenic destination in the heart of the Cumberland Plateau.