By Alex Arbogast
For a state with only one natural lake, river-rich West Virginia loves to build lakes. The damming of rivers for various water management purposes has created an abundance of recreation opportunities in and near the Greenbrier Valley. Whether your interests include a fishing pole or just a kayak and camera, here are twelve lakes we think you should check out soon.
With the help of Benjamin Cline Moomaw Jr. and The Flood Control Act of 1946 enacted to prevent flooding along the Jackson and James Rivers, the Gathright Dam was born. However, it took time for the dam to be completed and was finally finished in 1979. In 1982 the reservoir spawned the creation of a 2530-acre lake in Covington, Virginia called Lake Moomaw. This lake includes beaches, a marina, three boating ramps, four campgrounds, and a close-by lodge—Big-Lick Retreat. The lake is open to water sports and year-round boating. This area includes hiking trails, fishing, and hunting.
Known as the biggest lake in the Monongahela National Forest, Sherwood Lake is located 25 miles northeast from White Sulphur Springs. Built in 1958, this lake continues to grab 1.3 million visitors a year. Only electric motor boats are permitted due to the lake's popularity as a fishing destination. There are several boat-launching areas and even a walking trail with fishing access. It’s a beautiful little lake with no marinas, but visitors will find 104 campsites with tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, running water, bathrooms, and electricity. The campsites are only available during the summer. Many day-trippers enjoy the beach which Includes a volleyball court and picnic area.
Located near Roanoke, Virginia, Smith Mountain Lake boats 20,600 acres and 500 miles of shoreline. With proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford County, Smith Mountain Lake is a short 40 miles away from Lynchburg and Roanoke. The lake offers 24 different marinas with boat rentals. Rental opportunities include motor boats, house boats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, pontoon boats, and even jet skis. There are a variety of lodges and campsites nearby as well as restaurants and shopping centers, making this lake a good choice whether you're looking for a rustic escape or luxurious weekend at the lake.
Summersville Lake, the longest lake in West Virginia, is the second-largest reservoir dam on the east coast with 65 miles of shoreline and 300 feet of depth. Several marinas provide kayak, pontoon, and paddleboard rentals. A favorite destination is Sarge’s Dive Shop which offers scuba-diving and snorkeling lessons along with catered dinners on an evening cruise. For those less interested In water activities, there are boundless other outdoor adventures including rock climbing. There are also many campgrounds and lodges in the vicinity.
Long Branch Lake, also known as Pipestem Lake, is a 16-acre reservoir located in Pipestem Resort State Park in Summers County, West Virginia. Boating is only open in the summer, but many tourists take advantage of the year-round access to 20 hiking trails. The park includes two lodges as well as 25 deluxe cabins. Skiing, horseback riding, and an abundance of other activities make Pipestem an annual destination for many families. Nearby Bluestone River is popular for fishing and boating. In-park restaurants include Mountain Creek Fine Dining, along the Bluestone River, or The Pipestem Championship Golf Course.
Near Beckley, West Virginia, the Little Beaver State Lake is an 18-acre impoundment. Amenities include boat rentals, 46 campsites, a playground, picnic areas, and 17 mountain biking and hiking trails. For brave adventurers, night fishing is allowed.
Summit Lake is a 43-acre reservoir located in Greenbrier County 10 miles east of Richwood in the Monongahela National Forest. Rowboats and all motored vehicles must be limited to a low horsepower, preserving the lake's tranquility. Swimming is prohibited, but the Cranberry River, accessible from the lake, is a coveted destination for fly fishing. A hiking trail encircles the lake.
Tuckahoe Lake can be found approximately 3.5 miles south of White Sulphur Springs. Camping and swimming are prohibited, but boats powered by electrical motors are allowed. This 40-acre lake was built in 1995. Standing timber within the lake creates a rich aquatic habitat for animals and unique landscape for photographers. The relatively small lake offers a boat ramp and fishing dock. Visitors should note that the public facilities are limited to a porta-potty.
Held by Bluestone Dam over the New River since its construction in 1933, Bluestone Lake is the pride of Summers County, West Virginia. While Electric Motor-Powered Boats and swimming are prohibited, rowboat, canoe, and kayak rentals are available. Thirty-four cabins and 3 campgrounds make Bluestone a beloved summertime destination. The nearby Bluestone State Park includes activities like hiking, swimming, and golfing
Open during the summer season through September, Lake Stevens is the 2,300-acre Lake Stephens is 9 miles west of Beckley, West Virginia and 25 minutes from New River Gorge National Park. This 300-acre lake was built in 1963 and permits unlimited horsepower for boating. The lake is popular for the diversity of fish beckoning to rod-and-reelers. Amenities include a marina, a boat ramp, and concessions. Off-water recreation such as hiking, biking, basketball, tennis, volleyball, picnicking and camping makes Lake Stephens a well-rounded destination for those in the family less interested in hooks and worms. There is even a skate park and a paintball park. Be forewarned, pets are not allowed.
Located in Pocahontas County within Watoga State Park, Watoga Lake was constructed in 1933. Kayak, canoe, and rowboat rentals are available. Though swimming is prohibited, 40 miles of hiking trails surround the lake. There are also 34 cabins and 3 campgrounds within the park that are open from the beginning of summer to the beginning of winter.
Located in Monroe County, Moncove Lake State Park offers a secluded, pastoral paradise. It’s a great place to teach the kids fishing, and all of the park amenities are close together. Whether it’s riding bikes or bird watching, Moncove Lake is a great place for families.
* This article is corrected from the incorrectly printed version in our Summer Issue. We apologize to our readers for the mistake.