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Nestled in the verdant West Virginia hills off of Interstate 64 in Wayne County, Beech Fork Lake provides endless entertainment for visitors seeking a variety of fun outdoor activities. Located a few miles south of the City of Huntington, Beech Fork Lake is a short drive from Charleston, WV; Cincinnati, OH; and Lexington, KY.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created Beech Fork Lake for flood control and recreation by damming the Beech Fork of the Twelve Pole Creek River. Popular belief holds that George Washington was among the explorers who gave Twelve Pole Creek River its name (its mouth was measured at 12 "poles" across). The lake opened to the public in 1978, and nearby Beech Fork State Park opened in 1979. The park offers 3,144 acres of wildlife and a breathtaking view of the lake. The Corps maintains Beech Fork Lake at a summer elevation of 592 feet above sea level. Lake levels are lowered in the fall to a winter pool elevation of 583 feet to make room for melting snow and heavy spring rains. Water levels reached an all-time high on March 6, 1997 at 608.45 feet, just six feet below the flood control pool of 614.5 feet.
The 720-acre lake is a peaceful place to enjoy a meandering boat ride, especially since the lake prohibits engines over 10 horsepower (larger boat engines must remove the propeller). Paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, and row boats are available to rent at Beech Fork Marina, near the Beech Fork Dam and Recreation Center, while pedal boats and licensed jon boats can be rented at the boat launch in Beech Fork State Park.
With over 12,000 acres of land including the lake, state park, and wildlife preservation areas, both experienced and novice anglers have ample opportunity to fish for largemouth, smallmouth and hybrid striped bass, catfish, walleye, saugeye, black crappie, and bluegill. Hunters will find seasons for rabbit, turkey, deer, squirrel, grouse, raccoon, fox, mourning dove, woodcock and waterfowl. Swimmers and sunbathers can relax at the lake's swimming beach near the dam or take a dip in the deluxe 50-meter swimming pool at Beech Fork Lake State Park, complete with bathhouse and snack stand.
Don't forget to take a nature hike or bike ride through the dense hickory, oak, and pine trees that cover 85% of the area. Also, keep your eye out for migratory water fowl, neotropical songbirds, raptors, whitetail deer, fox, and even the occasional black bear. You can also spot various frog and toad species as well as wildflowers tucked into the landscape. If you're in Beech Fork State Park, why not start or join a game of volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, or horseshoes, or enjoy a meal under one of the picnic shelters.
If an overnight stay is on the agenda, Beech Fork State Park has hundreds of campsites available, ranging from primitive to full service with water, sewer, and electricity. Many campsites are lakefront, and all sites have a grill and picnic table and access to full service bathhouses and restroom facilities. If camping isn't your style, try one of the six deluxe cabins with lake views and modern conveniences. Both campsites and cabins are available year-round.
Schedule some time to explore nearby towns. In nearby Milton, check out a glass factory and watch from the observation deck as artisans handcraft glass, blow it into shape, and then finish the item. Also nearby is historic Huntington. It's situated on the Ohio River and houses the Huntington Museum of Art and a riverfront park with festivals and picnic areas. Then stroll downtown to Heritage Village and tour the renovated B & O Railway Station with a real locomotive and Pullman Car, as well as Huntington's first bank that was allegedly robbed by the James Gang in September 1875.
It's easy to see why Beech Fork Lake attracts over one million annual visitors. Whether it's for a day, a weekend, or a week, there will never be a shortage of fun things to do at Beech Fork Lake.
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