West Virginia is noted for its beautiful landscape of mountains and rolling hills. In fact, it sits in the Appalachian region of the USA and is one of the world’s most densely karstic areas. Its terrain makes it a highly visited state, especially considering its plethora of recreational activities.
In addition to hills, mountains and karsts, West Virginia is also home to numerous lakes, which also provide tourists with plenty of recreational activities to enjoy. These are the 15 best lakes in West Virginia.
1. Summerville Lake; Nicholas County
Sitting on the Gauley River, Summerville Lake is the largest lake in West Virginia. The 1,100 hectare lake boasts a 97 kilometre shoreline, with the Summersville Lake State Wildlife Area sitting along the north end of it.
There is a boat in the waters of the lake that was deliberately sunk to provide scuba diving for visitors. Snorkelling, boating and fishing are also offered.
Those that would prefer to enjoy the lake without getting their feet wet can go rock climbing in its surrounding hills, or can go picnicking on its shoreline. Camping is also available.
2. Bluestone Lake; Mercer, Monroe & Summers Counties
Originally built for flood control, Bluestone Lake stretched for 58 kilometres across three West Virginia counties and into neighbouring Virginia. It sits on the New River and is impounded by the Bluestone Dam.
The 825 hectare lake is a fantastic place to enjoy recreational activities like boating, fishing and water skiing. It is also home to the Bluestone State Park, which sits along the west side of the lake where it meets the Bluestone River.
The Bluestone State Park features a marina with boat rentals, a boat ramp, a picnic area and camping grounds. It also happens to be one of the best spots in the state for white water rafting and canoeing.
3. East Lynn Lake; Wayne County
This 400 hectare reservoir is located on the on the East Fork Twelvepole Creek and is surrounded by the East Lynn Lake Wildlife Management Area. As a result, it is a haven for nature lovers that want to catch a glimpse of some native wildlife.
East Lynn Lake is a popular fishing destination, being home to 29 species of fish indigenous to the area, as well as non-native species. Many visitors also come to enjoy water skiing.
Tourists that wish to stay overnight can stay at the East Lynn Lake Shelters or at one of the lake’s many camping grounds. There are also picnic areas and a playground for the kids to enjoy.
4. Burnsville Lake; Braxton County
Burnsville Lake sits on the Little Kanawha River in the centre of the state. It is surrounded by the Burnsville Lake Wildlife Management Area, which offers plenty of recreational activities.
Boating, fishing and water skiing are just some of the things that tourists come to the lake to enjoy. Burnsville Lake is also a great place to go hiking, wildlife viewing and picnicking.
There are 60 camping sites around the 223 hectare lake, as well as a marina that offers boat rentals. It is also possible to learn a little bit about the history of the area at the Bulltown Historical Area, which sits at the southeast end of the lake.
5. Sleepy Creek Lake; Berkeley County
This 83 hectare lake sits entirely within the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. It is a stunning lake that is surrounded by oak and pine forest.
The lake’s abundance of largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill and crappie make it a fantastic spot for fishing. Only electric motor boats are allowed on the lake and night fishing is prohibited.
There are three campgrounds along the shoreline of Sleepy Creek Lake, all of which are on the east side of it. In total, there are 75 primitive camping sites available to tourists that wish to stay the night.
6. Spruce Knob Lake; Randolph County
Spruce Knob Lake sits within the Allegheny Mountains at an elevation of 1,170 metres. It is the highest lake in all of West Virginia and a fantastic place to spend a couple of days.
The lake’s peaceful setting makes camping here quite tranquil, especially with its surrounding hardwood forest. Boating is offered in the lake, while hiking and biking can be enjoyed on land.
It is worthwhile to hike along the Whispering Spruce Trail, which encircles the lake. It is also the best place to enjoy amazing panoramic views of the lake as well as its surroundings.
7. Beech Fork Lake; Wayne & Cabell Counties
This 290 hectare lake sits in the northwest corner of West Virginia near the city of Lavalette. It is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by the Beech Fork Lake Wildlife Management Area.
The Beech Fork State Park sits at the very eastern point of the lake, offering swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, biking and camping. It also features a playground, picnic shelters and a fishing pier.
Birdwatchers from all over the world flock to Beech Fork Lake to spot wood warblers, thrushes, chats, vireos, ovenbirds and cuckoos, amongst other species. The lake is also popular amongst photographers.
8. Jennings Randolph Lake; Mineral County
Jennings Randolph Lake sits along the North Branch Potomac River on the West Virginia-Maryland border. The lake was built as an emergency reservoir for Washington, D.C, as well as being used for recreational purposes.
Swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking and water skiing are all offered here, as is hiking and eagle watching. Those that wish to spend more than a day here can go camping or splurge and stay at the privately owned lakeside resort.
The 385 hectare lake is surrounded by hills and parkland, making it extremely tranquil and picturesque. This means that it is not only a great place for recreational activities, but also just to relax and enjoy the scenery.
9. Lake Sherwood; Greenbrier County
This magnificent 66 hectare lake sits in the Monongahela National Forest. Lake Sherwood is also home to the Lake Sherwood Recreation Area.
The lake boasts a swimming beach, a boat ramp, picnic facilities and camping sites. It is also a great place to go fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding.
Tourists that would prefer to enjoy land activities can play volleyball or go hiking along one of the lake’s surrounding four trails. There is also a playground for the kids to enjoy.
10. North Bend Lake; Ritchie County
North Bend Lake sits along the North Fork of the Hughes River and is completely surrounded by the North Bend State Park. The 123 hectare lake stretches for 13 kilometres in the north part of West Virginia.
The state park features the 116 kilometre North Bend Rail Trail. As well as having a horseback riding trail and mountain biking trails. Other land activities offered here include ATV riding, geocaching and cross-country skiing.
Those visiting North Bend Lake to actually enjoy the lake itself can go swimming, boating and fishing. There is also a swimming pool onsite, as well as campsites, cabins and rooms.
11. Mount Storm Lake; Grant County
This is one of the most visited lakes in West Virginia thanks to its warm temperature. This is caused by the Mount Storm Power Station, who uses the lake for cooling.
Because of the warm temperature, Mount Storm Lake is a popular diving destination and training ground for newbie divers. This is true all year, as the water never gets colder than 10°C.
The 490 hectare lake also offers great swimming, kayaking and boating. There is also a trail encircling the lake’s shoreline.
12. Summit Lake; Greenbrier County
This 17 hectare lake lies within the Gauley Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest. It is a small, picturesque lake thanks to its forest surroundings.
Fishing is one of the most popular things to do at Summit Lake thanks to its abundance of bass and panfish. Swimming is not allowed, but rowboats and low-horsepower motor boats are.
There are some great trails around the lake where you can hike or go cross-country skiing. There are also 33 primitive campsites.
13. Warden Lake; Hardy County
Warden Lake sits at an elevation of 392 metres and is nestled between Baker Mountain and Big Ridge. The reservoir is part of the Warden Lake Wildlife Management Area.
The top reason to visit the lake is go fishing for bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish, channel fish and northern pike. This can be enjoyed in the day time or into the night.
Only electric motors are allowed on the lake via its gravelled boat ramp. There is no camping here, although there are toilet facilities.
14. Stonewall Jackson Lake; Lewis County
Fishing is the number one reason to visit Stonewall Jackson Lake. It is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, walleye, bluegill, yellow perch and carp, amongst other species.
Along the shores of the 1,060 hectare lake is the Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. The award-winning park features hiking and biking trails, a marina and 40 campsites.
Also within the park is an indoor and outdoor pool, a full-service spa, 3 restaurants and a fitness centre. Plus, there are cottages, rooms and suites to relax in.
15. Cheat Lake; Monongalia County
This 21 kilometre long reservoir sits immediately downstream from the Cheat Canyon near neighbouring Pennsylvania. Cheat Lake boasts three marinas and a boat ramp.
The 700 hectare lake is a great place to enjoy recreational activities like boating, kayaking and fishing. It is even possible to do a stand-up paddleboard yoga class.
The area surrounding Cheat Lake is fantastic for exploring and searching for swimming holes and waterfalls. You can even go to Cheat River for white water rafting or go rick climbing in the Coopers Rock State Forest.