Whether you want to make a splash or simply soak up the sun, you’ll find what you’re looking for in West Virginia. Spend your days at the lake scuba diving, kayaking, and water skiing. When you’re ready to explore areas beyond the lake, hit the big towns for craft beer and tasty cocktails. When you stay at one of many lakefront vacation rentals in West Virginia, you can enjoy easy access to boating, fishing, swimming, diving, and hiking opportunities set in spectacular mountain surroundings. Without further ado, check out the 10 best lakes in West Virginia.
1. Summersville Lake, Mount Nebo
As one of two lakes in West Virginia where you can scuba dive, Summersville Lake sprawls out over 2,718 acres of water surface and features a scenic 60-mile shoreline. Besides the fascinating geological formations for divers and snorkelers to check out, there’s a sunken boat for divers to discover and explore. Whether your group wants to fish, party, or tour the lake, the marina rents kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards, and 10-passenger pontoons for additional water adventures. Picnic along the shore, go rock climbing, or climb the 122 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse.
2. Burnsville Lake, Burnsville
At the Burnsville Lake marina, launch your own vessel or rent fishing boats, ski boats, canoes, or kayaks. Surrounding this 551-acre lake, Burnsville Lake Wildlife Management Area offers many recreational opportunities, including hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. The Bulltown Day Use Area at the southeast end of the lake features a swimming beach that includes restroom facilities, outside showers, and changing booths. The Bulltown Historical Village gives your family a chance to experience a bit of pre-Civil War pioneer life in a self-guided tour. Wild Mountain Kitchen serves up their Sasquatch Burger for lunch, which includes four beef patties topped with hand-cut flank steak.
3. Bluestone Lake, Hinton
Southern West Virginia’s majestic Appalachian mountains surround the pristine blue waters of Bluestone Lake, creating one of the most scenic bodies of water in the state. At Bluestone’s full-service marina, launch your boat or rent one for fishing or paddling around for the day. This 2,040 lake, impounded by Bluestone Dam, sits on New River and meets Bluestone River on its west side. Bluestone State Park includes a picnic area, swimming pool, playground, and it’s a great spot for white water rafting and canoeing. Enjoy dinner in Kirk’s over-the-water dining room, just across the river from your Hinton vacation rental.
4. Spruce Knob Lake, Riverton
At an elevation of 3,840 feet, Spruce Knob Lake sits in a peaceful, remote setting for boating, fishing, and hiking. Designed especially for recreation, this 23-acre reservoir is in the Monongahela National Forest, adjacent to Spruce Knob, the highest peak in the state. Phones and stores are about an hour away, and the nearest large town, Harrisonburg, Virginia, is over two hours to the southeast. Use the boat ramp to put in your kayaks, canoes, or boats with electric trolling motors. Swimming is not allowed, but most visitors make the trek up the mountain for the trout fishing and hiking in the mountainous Potomac Highlands. This Whispering Spruce Trail encircles the lake, giving you the best views of the lake and its surroundings.
5. Sleepy Creek Lake, Hedgesville
Some rugged, unpaved roads lead die-hard outdoor families to Sleepy Creek Lake, an ideal spot for kids, dogs, and family vacations. Surrounded by oak and pine forests, this 205-acre lake features plenty of large mouth bass, northern pike, and bluegills that make a stellar fishing spot. Fish day or night from the shore, from boats with electric motors, or using boats without motors only. You’re about an hour from the nearest city, Berkeley Springs, which lies to the northwest.
6. Beech Fork Lake, Lavalette
Situated 12 miles south of Huntington, with easy access to neighboring cities–including Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio–Beech Fork Lake features some of the finest recreational opportunities in southern West Virginia. This 720-acre reservoir features 31 miles of beautiful shoreline, and it’s surrounded by Beech Fork State Park. Visitors enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, and bird watching in the 3,144-acre park, which includes picnic shelters, a fishing pier at the lake, and a playground for the tots. Birdwatchers visit the lake to look for cuckoos, vireos, wood warblers, thrushes, and many other species. Head over to Huntington to score some craft suds at Summit Beer House or the Huntington Ale Station, and some outstanding steaks at Prime on 4th.
7. Jennings Randolph Lake, Elk Garden
When you really want a place to hide away from the daily drag, Jennings Randolph Lake, stretched along 5.5 miles of rural landscape on the northern branch of the Potomac River, makes the best spot to relax. Nestled among the hills, this 952-acre lake also features opportunities for swimming, boating, kayaking, and hiking amid a serene sanctuary for birds and animals. Retreat to the tree-lined shores to find your personal serenity or get out on the lake and water ski. The nearest places to eat is Bull’s Run Restaurant about 10 miles away, on the Maryland side of the river.
8. Summit Lake, Richwood
Cold water fishing draws trout anglers to Summit Lake’s primitive location. This 43-acre cold water fishing lake is in the Gauley Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest, where swimming is not allowed. Anglers put in non-motorized and low-horsepower motor boats for fishing. The hike to Cranberry River–a popular trout-fishing spot–is a steep climb on Fisherman’s Trail, but other trails crisscross the area near the lake, some of which make good cross-country ski trails during the winter.
9. Mount Storm Lake, Union
Of all the lakes in West Virginia, Mount Storm Lake boasts a unique feature–it stays warm year round. This 1,200-acre reservoir on Stony River in Grant County provides cooling for the Mount Storm Power Station. The power station uses filters that remove coal ash and sulfur dioxide, which makes the water and air safe. This is the second of two lakes that allows diving and snorkeling, and it’s popular as the water rarely dips below 60 F even in the winter. Visitors who prefer to keep their feet dry enjoy the level trail that circles the lake.
10. Little Beaver Lake, Beaver
For an unspoiled, back-country vibe, you can’t beat Little Beaver Lake, located just two miles off I-64, and less than 10 miles from Beckley. A 562-acre day-use park encompasses the 18-acre lake where anglers fish all year round. During the summer, the park rents paddle boats, row boats, canoes, and kayaks. The park includes picnic shelters and nice playgrounds. Beyond the outdoor adventures, the area is home to two outdoor dramas–about 15 minutes away–at the Cliffside Amphitheater at Grandview State Park. Each summer, West Virginia Theater presents “Honey in the Rock” and “Hatfields & McCoys.”
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