West Virginia is home to some of the most beautiful nature in the United States, and its many lakes are no exception. They can be found scattered all throughout the state, and they offer the chance to enjoy almost any water-related recreational activity you can imagine, including fishing, boating, water skiing, and even scuba diving.
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1.Beech Fork Lake
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Set inside a 3,144-acre park, Beech Fork Lake is a man-made reservoir that offers more than 30 miles of shoreline. The park is criss-crossed with an excellent selection of trails for hiking and biking, and a beautiful swimming beach can be found near the dam. The lake is also a popular boating destination; engines greater than 10 horsepower are prohibited, but kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats can be rented from the marina. Visitors who would like to spend the night can do so at one of the lakefront campsites, which come with fire pits and picnic tables and are open year-round.
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Created by a dam across the New River, Bluestone Lake is the third largest lake in the state. The lake is a suitable place to enjoy almost any type of water activity; there are no limits placed on the size of engines that can be used on the lake, and there are several boat ramps and a marina for boaters to use. Fishing is a particularly popular activity here, as the New River that feeds the lake is widely regarded as one of the state's best warm water fisheries. Other popular activities include water skiing, bird watching, and hiking in the adjacent park.
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Located outside the city of Burnsville, Burnsville Lake was originally constructed to help deal with flooding from the Little Kanawha River. However, it's now a popular recreation destination with several public boat launches and a large campground. Many different types of watercraft can be rented here, including canoes, jet skis, and pontoon boats, and the lake is populated with a large variety of fish. Visitors who would prefer to fish from the shores can do so at the Bulltown Recreation Areas, which also offer facilities like a swimming beach, picnic tables, restrooms, and horseshoe pits.
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Formerly known as Lake Lynn, Cheat Lake is tucked up against the border between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. One of the most popular activities here is fishing; the lake is particularly well-known for its stock of largemouth bass, but it's also home to walleye, sunfish, catfish, and more. Visitors are welcome to fish from the dock at Cheat Lake Park or to put small boats into the water at the boat launch, and several marinas are available for anyone who wants to use a larger boat. No camping is available here, but the park offers washrooms, a playground, and several picnic areas.
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5.East Lynn Lake
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Tucked amidst gently rolling wooded hills, the 12-mile-long East Lynn Lake offers plenty of recreational activities both on the water and along its 44 miles of shore. It's a great destination for fishermen and hunters alike; the lake is known to be home to approximately 30 species of fish, and the hills that surround the lake are home to animals like deer, rabbits, and bears. Visitors who want to spend more than one day at the lake can stay at East Fork Campground; there are 167 sites to choose from, and the campground offers amenities like a playground, a boat launch, and sports courts.
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6.Jennings Randolph Lake
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Situated in a valley that stretches from Maryland to West Virginia, Jennings Randolph Lake is a reservoir along the North Branch Potomac River. The lake is surrounded by a 4,500-acre park that offers almost endless recreation opportunities; highlights include horseback riding, hiking, hunting, biking, cross-country skiing, and picnicking at Howell Run Picnic Area, which features stunning views of the lake. Visitors who prefer to simply relax can do so on Shaw Beach, a beautiful 200-foot beach with amenities like picnic tables, washrooms, change rooms, and a children's playground. There are also two paved boat launches available, one in Maryland and one in West Virginia.
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Lake Sherwood can be found inside the Monongahela National Forest, and with an area of 156 acres, it holds the honor of being the forest's largest lake. A small island sits in the lake and is connected to the shore by a footbridge, providing an excellent opportunity for enjoying a picnic or a stroll. Stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, and boats can be rented during the summer months. Simple campsites with fire pits and picnic tables can be found along the northeast side of the lake; advance reservations are recommended, and visitors should be aware that no hook-ups are available.
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8.North Bend Lake
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Constructed in 2002, North Bend Lake is a 305-acre reservoir ideal for fishing, boating, and swimming. Boats up to 10 horsepower are permitted on the lake, but it's also popular with canoers, kayakers, and pontoon boaters. A paved boat launch is available, but visitors are also welcome to fish from the pier. The lake is almost more beautiful from a distance than it is up close, and excellent views can be had by hiking, biking, or horseback riding along the 72-mile North Bend Rail Trail, which passes by several historic sites and winds through 10 tunnels.
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9.Spruce Knob Lake
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Despite being only 23 acres in size, Spruce Knob Lake offers a wealth of recreational activities. The lake is named for its proximity to Spruce Knob, a nearby lookout point that is the highest point in the state of West Virginia. The top of the lookout point is only a short hike from the lake, but it's also possible to drive most of the way. Many visitors come here to fish; boats with electric motors are permitted, but many visitors choose to canoe or kayak instead. A boat launch is available, as is a fishing dock. Swimming in the lake is not permitted.
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Sitting at the base of the Allegheny Mountains, the Stonecoal Reservoir is a popular destination for boating and fishing. Only boats with engines under 10 horsepower are permitted, and boats can be rented at the nearby Jackson Lake and State Park if needed. The lake is regularly stocked with fish and is home to a wide variety of fish species, and a good number of state record fish have been caught here. Swimming is not permitted here because of the lake's location inside a wildlife management area, but other possible activities include hunting, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
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11.Stonewall Jackson Lake
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Originally built to help prevent floods along the West Fork River, Stonewall Jackson Lake is now a wonderful destination for recreation and relaxation. The lake is excellent for swimming, fishing, and boating alike; there is no horsepower limit for boats, but a section of the lake has been marked as "no-wake" so that it can be enjoyed by canoers and kayakers worry-free. Anyone in search of a more relaxing vacation will be pleased to learn that the lake also offers a luxurious resort with elegant rooms, a full-service spa, and a communal sundeck that boasts gorgeous views of the lake.
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Known for being the state's biggest lake with a total area of 2790 acres, Summersville Lake was formed by the creation of a dam on the Gauley River. Fishing and boating are popular activities here, and visitors are welcome to put their boats into the water at any of the lake's public boat launches. Because of its warm temperature and the steep cliffs that sink below the surface of the water, the lake is also ideal for scuba diving. Experienced scuba divers are welcome to bring their own boats and equipment, but there is also an on-site dive shop.
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Found along Route 39, Summit Lake is a peaceful oasis surrounded by wilderness. Swimming is not allowed in the lake, but it's an excellent fishing spot and the water is well-stocked with bass and panfish. Boat usage is restricted to row boats and low-horsepower boats; visitors are welcome to use the lake's boat ramp, but there is also a fishing pier for those who would prefer to fish from the shore. A hiking trail encircles the entire lake, and several more trails can be found nearby. There is also a small campground, which offers 33 primitive campsites with parking spurs.
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Tygart Lake sits inside a state park that shares its name, and it's a popular destination for everything from fishing to hiking to scuba diving. Five hiking trails can be found in the park, and many different types of boat are available for rent on site. There is also plenty of accommodation on and around the lake, including furnished cabins and cottages, campsites, and a waterfront lodge. Visitors in the spring and summer are also encouraged to join on of the guided nature tours of the area, which are offered free of charge and led by experienced naturalists.
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14 Best West Virginia Lakes
- Beech Fork Lake, Photo: Courtesy of art_rich - Fotolia.com
- Bluestone Lake, Photo: Courtesy of johnsroad7 - Fotolia.com
- Burnsville Lake, Photo: Courtesy of KnowBeingInTime - Fotolia.com
- Cheat Lake, Photo: Courtesy of steheap - Fotolia.com
- East Lynn Lake, Photo: Courtesy of nopporn - Fotolia.com
- Jennings Randolph Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Kunstzeug - Fotolia.com
- Lake Sherwood, Photo: Courtesy of lexpixelart - Fotolia.com
- North Bend Lake, Photo: Courtesy of nopporn - Fotolia.com
- Spruce Knob Lake, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Stonecoal Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of Baronb - Fotolia.com
- Stonewall Jackson Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Al - Fotolia.com
- Summersville Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Carroll - Fotolia.com
- Summit Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Tygart Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Alberto - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Carroll - Fotolia.com