H2OH!: West Virginia’s Family-Friendly Lake Vacations
February 8, 2018|
Editor’s Note: This list of seven family-friendly lakes was provided by the West Virginia Tourism Office. For more travel recommendations, visit www.gotowv.com.
By Katlin Swisher
At a glance, the Mountain State might be perceived as a paradise for land lovers, but don’t be deceived. West Virginia is home to a variety of lakes and rivers rich with opportunity for
all water fanatics, from the serenity seeker in search of R&R to the extreme adventurist ready to take on adrenaline-inducing rapids in a raft or kayak.
West Virginia’s most popular lakes are vacation destinations perfect for the entire family. From swimming, skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving and sailboat racing to boating, kayaking, fishing and floating, it’s easy to see why these West Virginia lakes put the “Oh!” in H20.
The heart of ACE Adventure Resort in Fayette County is the waterpark on the resort’s five-acre lake. Featuring water slides, zip lines, a giant chess board and inflatable obstacle courses, the Wonderland Water Park offers something for everyone. Dry off during a volleyball match or relax on the white sandy beach. On summer nights, take in a family-friendly movie under the stars. With a variety of outdoor adventures like whitewater rafting, zip lining and rappelling, it’s easy to turn a visit to the waterpark into a long weekend.
Located a few miles outside of Morgantown, Cheat Lake is a popular destination in North Central West Virginia for watercraft. Its variety of wide and narrow channels provides favorable water conditions for both kayakers and boaters. The lake is also home to a flat, 4.5-mile trail that follows the Lake Lynn shoreline along abandoned railroad tracks made into a path for walkers, joggers and bikers. A nature viewing area is located at the southern tip, and a fishing platform and cleaning station are available near the beach. The trail also features fun for the whole family: a 12-foot-wide, wheelchair accessible pavement walkway follows the section of the trail closest to the beach, playground and picnic area. Three restaurants and bars are located on the lake, and each features a unique menu and atmosphere for relaxing and watching the sunset. Take your relaxation to the next level at a traditional yoga class on the dock or a stand-up paddleboard yoga class.
East Lynn Lake
Located among rolling hills and hardwood trees, East Lynn Lake in Wayne County offers 44 miles of shoreline where anglers have recorded 29 different species of fish since the lake
was created in 1938. Popular nearby hiking trails include the 1.5-mile East Fork Trail, which begins at the campground, as well as Damsite Trail, Overlook Trail and Lakeside Trail. The
campground offers 166 sites with hook-ups, and a boat ramp, amphitheater, playground and basketball and volleyball courts are available on-site. Several 100-seat shelters are available for picnics and other large gatherings.
At 156 acres, Lake Sherwood is the largest lake in the Monongahela National Forest, which attracts 1.3 million visitors each year. Located near White Sulphur Springs, the lake is a popular spot for fishing for bass, catfish and panfish as well as boating, swimming and picnicking. With the 2,600-foot elevation, hikers have several options to explore nearby, including the Lake Sherwood Trail, Upper Meadow Trail, Meadow Mountain Trail and Meadow Creek Trail. Standard, tent-only and group camping options are available from early May through late November along the lakeshore.
Sleepy Creek Lake
Sleepy Creek Lake puts the wild in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. Accessible from Martinsburg, Hedgesville and Glengary, Sleepy Creek Lake is a 205-acre go-to spot for bass, crappie and northern pike fishing nestled between two mountains in Berkeley County. It has been West Virginia’s top producer of trophy largemouth bass over the last decade, averaging 14 per year. One concrete and two gravel boat ramps are available, but only electric motor boats are permitted. Sleepy Creek Lake lives up to its name—it’s a quiet, serene destination, perfect for people seeking to relax and get back to the basics. Primitive campsites are located nearby.
Stonewall Jackson Lake
With the Appalachian Mountains as the backdrop, cruise along the peaceful waters of Stonewall Jackson Lake on a fishing or pontoon boat from Stonewall Resort’s marina. The lake is a popular spot for bass, muskellunge and crappie, and boat slips are available to both overnight and day guests. The Marina at Stonewall Resort offers many amenities, including a boat launch, boat rentals, gasoline sales and marina shop. Planning to stay a while? Lodging is available at Briar Point Campground and Stonewall Resort. The resort also features a golf course, spa, mountain biking and Segway tours. Don’t miss the sunset from a cruise on the Little Sorrell, which is offered every night during the summer months.
With more than 28,000 acres of water and 60 miles of shoreline, Summersville Lake makes the biggest splash on the list as the largest lake in West Virginia. Known as the state’s mountain water playground, the lake’s pristine water is perfect for swimming, water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and more. Don’t miss the sailboat races at the annual Mountain Mama Regatta, hosted by the Sewell Mountain Sailing Association each August. Summersville Lake is also a popular spot for fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish and catfish, and trout are stocked below the dam in the spring and fall. If you prefer to take your adventure to dry land, check out the hiking trails nestled among the dense hardwood forests and sandstone cliffs that surround the lake, and technical rock climbing is available year-round. If you plan to stay a while, Battle Run Campground has utility hook-ups, a bathhouse and a playground and offers easy access for relaxing on the lake’s beachfront.