14 Best Lakes in Pennsylvania

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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The ‘Keystone State’, Pennsylvania is a landlocked state in the northeast corner of the USA, with the Appalachian Mountains running through it. It is bordered by six other states, as well as boasting 82 kilometres of coastline along Lake Erie.

Pennsylvania is a state made up of cities, mountains, rivers and valleys, as well as having a number of fabulous lakes. Some of these lakes are massive, like Lake Erie, while others are smaller lakes that are great for relaxing and taking in the beautiful scenery.

Here are the best lakes in Pennsylvania:

1. Lake Nockamixon

Lake NockamixonSource: Christian Carollo / shutterstock
Lake Nockamixon

This stunning lake is surrounded by rolling hills and greenery. It is the largest lake in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County and the centrepiece of the Nockamixon State Park.

Lake Nockamixon is a popular spot for fishing, with walleye, bass, pickerel and carp being frequently caught. It is also a great place for picnicking, boating and windsurfing, while the area surrounding the lake is fantastic for hiking, mountain biking and hunting.

In the winter months, Lake Nockamixon is open for ice skating and ice fishing, while the Nockamixon State Park offer cross-country skiing and sledding. Swimming is not allowed within the lake itself, though there is a public swimming pool.

2. Marsh Creek Lake

Marsh Creek LakeSource: Jeremy Tyree / shutterstock
Marsh Creek Lake

Sitting within the Marsh Creek State Park, Marsh Creek Lake is a man-made lake that was created by the damming of the Marsh Creek River. It is a tranquil lake that is surrounded by trees and lovely scenery.

Fishing is quite popular at Marsh Creek Lake, with largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish and numerous panfish often swimming around. It is also a great place for sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.

There is a place to rent boats and other equipment on the shoreline of the lake, which also offers sailing, surfing and other types of lessons. As well, there are two boat launchers at Marsh Creek Lake.

3. Gouldsboro Lake

Gouldsboro LakeSource: Bruce Goerlitz Photo / shutterstock
Gouldsboro Lake

The 100 hectare man-made lake sits in the Gouldsboro State Park in Coolbaugh Township. It is a popular destination for boating and fishing, being home to pickerel, bass, yellow perch and catfish, amongst others.

Gouldsboro Lake is a great place for swimming, boasting a beach that is open to the public from Memorial Day until Labour Day. In the winter months it is open for ice fishing, though the thickness of the ice is not monitored.

The park surrounding the lake is home to a number of hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. It also features picnic tables and mountain biking trails.

4. Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake WallenpaupackSource: Barbara MacDonald / shutterstock
Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack is the third largest lake in the state, featuring an 84 kilometre shoreline and having a depth of 18 metres. It is a freshwater lake that sits in the Pocono Mountains that is a popular vacation destination.

The lake is a top recreational spot, with fishing, boating and swimming all being enjoyed. Ice skating and ice fishing are offered in the winter, and it even holds an annual ‘Ice Tee Golf Tournament’.

The shoreline surrounding then lake is a wooded area with plenty of hiking trails and cottages for rent. In the past, Lake Wallenpaupack was the home of the Lenape Indians, who named the area Wallenpaupack; meaning ‘The Stream of Swift and Slow Water’.

5. Raystown Lake

Raystown LakeSource: Christian Hinkle / shutterstock
Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake is a beautiful lake that is known for its serenity and recreational activities. Swimming, fishing, boating and scuba diving are popularly enjoyed by visitors of the 33.6 square kilometre lake.

The lake features 12 public access areas, beaches, boat launchers, picnic areas and camping grounds. It’s beautiful surrounding area offers hiking and mountain biking.

Raystown Lake has some archaeological significance, with human remains being found around the lake that date back as far as 12,000 years ago. Today, this site is home to the Susquehannock Campground.

6. Shenango River Lake

Shenango River LakeSource: USACE HQ / Flickr | Public Domain Mark
Shenango River Lake

Located in the Shenango River Valley in western Pennsylvania, Shenango River Lake is a reservoir that is surrounded by picturesque scenery. The 1,440 hectare lake was built in 1965 to help with flood relief.

Shenango River Lake is a popular spot for anglers, as it is home to bass, muskellunge and walleye, amongst other species. It is also enjoyed by outdoor lovers, boasting over 300 campsites.

There are boat ramps, picnic areas and playgrounds surrounding the lake. As well, the Shenango Water Trail, Seth Myers and Coonie Trails are all nearby.

7. Lake Ontelaunee

Lake OntelauneeSource: cwieders / shutterstock
Lake Ontelaunee

Created by the damming of Maiden Creek in 1926, Lake Ontelaunee is a reservoir in Pennsylvania’s Berks County. The 438 hectare reservoir is the second largest in the country.

No boats or swimming are allowed in Lake Ontelaunee, but many people go fishing along its shoreline. There is a large population of fish, including panfish, common carp, largemouth bass and white perch.

The lake is surrounded by woods, making it a great place for hiking. Hunting is also favoured in the area.

8. Kinzua Lake

Kinzua LakeSource: Piper VanOrd / shutterstock
Kinzua Lake

Also known as the Allegheny Reservoir, Kinzua Lake is a man-made lake that sits around 319 kilometres above the river in Pittsburgh. It was constructed in 1965 through the damming of the Kinzua River.

Kinzua Lake is surrounded by the Allegheny National Forest, which not only provides some stunning scenery but also numerous recreational activities. Hiking, camping, bird watching and cross country skiing are all offered here.

There is a marina and boat launches around the lake, giving it access to boaters and fishermen. As well, the lake has two beach areas that offer swimming and picnicking.

9. Lake Galena

Lake GalenaSource: Dough4872 / Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 3.0
Lake Galena

Part of the Peace Valley Park, Lake Galena is a lovely reservoir with some stunning surrounding scenery. The park offers hiking, cycling and bird watching, while the lake itself is a great place for fishing, sailing and canoeing.

In the winter months, Lake Galena is a popular spot for ice fishing and ice skating. In the warmer months other activities are enjoyed, making it a great destination year round.

Lake Galena was created in 1972 with the damming of the Neshaminy Creek. Prior to that, the lake was home to the mining village of Leven.

10. Rose Valley Lake

Rose Valley LakeSource: K. Terry / shutterstock
Rose Valley Lake

Rose Valley Lake is a reservoir that sits in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. The lake spans for over 1.5 square kilometres, just east of Pennsylvania Route 14 and US Route 15.

The lake is managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, as it is primarily used for game fishing. Common species in the lake include bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow perch, chain pickerel and black crappie.

Visitors can fish in Rose Valley Lake year round, as it is open for ice fishing. The thickness of the ice is not monitored, but it is still a popular winter destination.

11. Dutch Springs

Dutch SpringsSource: Discover Lehigh Valley, PA / Flickr | CC BY
Dutch Springs

Located north of the city of Bethlehem, Dutch Springs is a spring-fed lake that is home to many species of fish, including largemouth bass, yellow perch, koi and bluegills. It is also known for its great recreational activities.
Since 1980, Dutch Springs has been home to a large recreational area that houses a water park, camping facilities, picnic areas and plenty of water sports. It is best known for its scuba diving, as numerous things are submerged in the lake’s water at various depths.

In the past, the site that the lake sits on was used for mining limestone and manufacturing cement. In 1970 the lake was filled with water, where it was later turned into a diving facility.

12. Fairview Lake

Fairview LakeSource: Rocksweeper / shutterstock
Fairview Lake

Fairview Lake is a natural lake that sits in the Palmyra Township of Pennsylvania. It is a peaceful lake that is surrounded by trees and hills.

One very unique thing about Fairview Lake is that it has a ridge running through the middle of it where the water is only around one metre deep. The rest of the lake is just shy of 15 metres deep.

Fairview Lake is a prime fishing destination as well as being a popular spot for boating. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission operates a small public boat launch on the southwest corner of the lake.

13. Stillwater Lake

Stillwater LakeSource: FedBul / shutterstock
Stillwater Lake

Stillwater Lake is a reservoir that sits 552 metres above sea level in the Pocono Summit area in Pennsylvania’s Monroe County. The 127 hectare lake is fed by rivers, creeks and underground springs, and flows to Lake Naomi.

The site of the lake was once a swamp, and later became an area for harvesting lumber. It was filled with water as a means to transport timber downstream to the nearby sawmills, before becoming a lake for producing ice.

Today, Stillwater Lake still produces ice, though in the summer months it is a popular destination with estates and summer homes around its shoreline. It is also home to a camp that offers numerous recreational activities.

14. Ganoga Lake

Ganoga LakeSource: ben.kouba / Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0
Ganoga Lake

This natural lake is one of the highest in the state at 689 metres above sea level. It is located in the Allegheny Plateau in south-eastern Sullivan County.

Ganoga Lake is surrounded by a variety of flora and fauna, making it an important area, particularly for birds. It is also home to plenty of fish species, while surrounding the lake visitors may spot black bears, white-tailed deer, monarch butterflies and hummingbirds.

Ganoga Lake has had a long history, dating back to the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks. It later became British occupied territory, before being purchased by the Ricketts family. Today, it is privately owned and used by windsurfers and kayakers, most of whom live around the lake or in the area.

14 Best Lakes in Pennsylvania:

  • Lake Nockamixon
  • Marsh Creek Lake
  • Gouldsboro Lake
  • Lake Wallenpaupack
  • Raystown Lake
  • Shenango River Lake
  • Lake Ontelaunee
  • Kinzua Lake
  • Lake Galena
  • Rose Valley Lake
  • Dutch Springs
  • Fairview Lake
  • Stillwater Lake
  • Ganoga Lake