8 Most Beautiful Lakes In West Virginia

The reward of visiting a country lake has to be worth the effort. Packing the car with kids, food, chairs, umbrellas, and pets is no small task. Yet when those feet hit silk-textured sand or the cool soft grass of a shoreside picnic area, the return on investment begins to sink in. West Virginia is a state known for trips of nostalgia that will bring you back to simpler times and create memories that will be a warm escape in the decades to come. So give yourself and your family or friends the break they need, and check out these eight gorgeous watery havens.

Summersville Lake

Aerial view, Summersville Lake with a boat on the turquoise waters
Summersville Lake.

The county created this rock-fill dam lake in 1966 by constructing the Summersville Dam on the Gauley River. It covers over 2,700 acres and has a maximum depth of 327 feet. One of the main attractions of Summersville Lake is its crystal-clear water. The lake's water quality is a result of strict regulations on boating and fishing activities, ensuring that it remains pristine. The lake is also home to various fish species, including bass, trout, walleye, and catfish. Fishing enthusiasts flock to Summersville Lake for its excellent fishing appeal.

In addition to fishing and boating activities, Summersville Lake offers a range of recreational activities such as camping, hiking, rock climbing, and hunting. The surrounding area boasts beautiful mountainsides and scenic trails for visitors to explore. Summersville Lake also hosts several events throughout the year, including the annual Lighthouse Festival, which features live music, food vendors, and raffles at an amusingly placed lighthouse, deep inland.

East Lynn Lake

Somber Morning canoeing on East Lynn Lake surrounded by evergreens
East Lynn Lake.

East Lynn Lake, ordered for construction in 1938 as a response to flooding, was not built until 1970. Flooding in 1937 killed over 300 people, which speaks to the damage risk that flooding once presented. With a surface area of 1,005 acres and surrounded by gentle hills and dense forests, the lake provides visitors with stunning views and ample hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

East Lynn Lake boasts excellent fishing, particularly for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and brown trout. The lake also hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year. Furthermore, East Lynn Lake offers a variety of water sports, such as boating, water skiing, and swimming. Several boat ramps and marinas around the lake offer rentals and other services.

Lake Sherwood

Lake Sherwood with marshlands and low mountains in the background
Lake Sherwood, West Virginia. Image credit Brian M. Powell via Creative Commons

Lake Sherwood is in the Greenbrier River watershed of West Virginia. The lake covers approximately 164 acres and sits on the farmland of settlers from 1790. Lake Sherwood is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering various recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. The lake is home to several fish species, including tiger muskie, catfish, and award-winning largemouth bass, making it an ideal spot for anglers.

Camping at Lake Sherwood is also popular, with a total of 114 campsites; 104 individual and 10 group sites. Each site comes equipped with a parking spur, tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post for one's convenience. Additionally, all camping areas feature accessible showers and restrooms that offer running water, flush toilets, hot showers, and electricity (in the summer). In addition to its recreational offerings, Lake Sherwood plays an essential role in flood control for the surrounding areas. The dam on the lake helps regulate water levels during heavy rains, which can help prevent flooding downstream.

Stonewall Jackson Lake

Dark clouds from a spring rain form over the Stonewall Jackson Lake Wildlife Management Area, Near Roanoke, West Virginia
Stonewall Jackson Lake Wildlife Management Area, Near Roanoke, West Virginia.

Stonewall Jackson Lake covers an area of approximately 2,630 acres and has an average depth of 15 feet. The West Fork River feeds into it, and the lake features over 82 miles of shoreline, making it a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming. Like others in West Virginia, Stonewall Jackson Lake is man-made, created in 1990 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood control for the surrounding populace.

In addition to its beauty, Stonewall Jackson Lake offers numerous amenities for visitors, including two marinas, several campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, and a championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer. The lake is also home to many fish species, including largemouth bass, walleye, channel catfish, crappie, and black bass. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources regularly stocks the lake with fish to ensure ample fishing opportunities.

Stonewall Jackson Lake is also steeped in history. The lake's namesake is Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, who campaigned in the area during the Civil War. Visitors can explore nearby historical sites such as Jackson's Mill State Park, which features restored buildings from the mid-19th century.

Burnsville Lake

Misty sky and lush evergreens at Burnsville Lake, Braxton County, West Virginia
Burnsville Lake, Braxton County, West Virginia.

Burnsville Lake in Braxton County, surrounded by stunning hills and forests, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Here, visitors often enjoy boating, fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking, and swimming.  Burnsville Lake is well-known for its excellent fishing. The lake is stocked with various fish species, including bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, and bluegill. Anglers can also find trophy-sized muskies in the lake.

The lake has several campgrounds that offer both primitive and modern camping facilities. There are also picnic areas scattered around the lake that provide stunning views of the surrounding scenery. In addition to being a popular recreational destination, Burnsville Lake is an essential source of drinking water for several nearby communities. The lake's water quality is closely monitored to meet federal standards.

Beech Fork Lake

Photo of Beech Fork Lake at Beech Fork State Park in Wayne County, West Virginia, with fall foliage and picnic tables
Beech Fork Lake at Beech Fork State Park in Wayne County, West Virginia. Image credit Youngamerican via Creative Commons

Beech Fork Lake has a little of everything, and the fall season is "to die for." The winding turns and sight of birds coasting on gentle ripples keep the local community invested, and it is a spot worthy of pride. Marinas and gun ranges on the edges of the lake equal a chance for enthusiasts of many backgrounds to leave satisfied.

Surrounded by lush forests, the lake provides many hiking and camping opportunities. Several trails wind through the woods, offering stunning views of the lake and its surroundings. Visitors can also enjoy picnicking and wildlife watching in the park. Beech Fork Lake is home to various fish species, including bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and musky. Fishing tournaments held annually attract anglers from all over the region.

In addition to its natural attractions, Beech Fork Lake offers many amenities for visitors. There are several picnic areas with grills and tables, and playgrounds for children. The park also has a marina where visitors can rent boats or launch their own. For those who want to stay overnight, several campgrounds have primitive and RV sites. The park also has cabins available for rent, offering all the comforts of home in a beautiful natural setting.

Bluestone Lake

Bluestone Lake in West Virginia in the autumn
Bluestone Lake in West Virginia.

Bluestone Lake is another man-made reservoir in the southern part of West Virginia. The lake, created in 1949 by constructing the Bluestone Dam on the New River, takes its name from the nearby Bluestone River, which flows into the lake.

The lake covers an area of approximately 2,040 acres and has a maximum length of 36 miles, extending into Virginia. It is one of the largest lakes in West Virginia and is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other water sports. The lake's shoreline extends for over 30 miles and offers numerous opportunities for hiking and camping. Bluestone Lake is home to various fish species, including bass, catfish, walleye, and musky. The lake also supports a diverse wildlife population, including bald eagles and ospreys.

Cheat Lake

Wide panoramic view of Cheat Lake near Morgantown in West Virginia from aerial drone shot above the water
Cheat Lake near Morgantown in West Virginia.

The Allegheny Power System created Cheat Lake in 1925 to generate electricity for the surrounding region. Moreover, the lake covers an area of approximately 1,730 acres. Cheat Lake offers a range of activities, such as boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping. The lake is home to several fish species, including bass, yellow perch, crappie, and white bass.

Visitors spend their time at Cheat Lake by hiking trails through the nearby Coopers Rock State Forest or taking in the panoramic views from the Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area overlooks. In addition to recreational activities, Cheat Lake also serves as an essential source of drinking water for the local community. Regular monitorings ensure that it meets state and federal water quality standards.

West Virginia has no shortage of breathtaking lakes that are sure to provide a memorable and rejuvenating escape. Whether one is looking for a serene spot to relax and unwind or an exciting day splashing and racing out on the water, these areas offer something for everyone. So pack up your car, grab your loved ones, and head out to explore all that this beautiful state has to offer. Your feet sinking into the welcoming shore will be worth every bit of effort it took to get there. These memories will be cherished for years to come as you and your family look back on the peaceful moments spent at these stunning natural wonders.