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Jennings Randolph Lake is nestled in a scenic valley along the North Branch Potomac River. This portion of the Potomac creates the county and state border between Garrett County, Maryland and Mineral County, West Virginia. The rural lakes and rivers of West Virginia's eastern panhandle and Maryland's western panhandle make this a popular tourist area. Drawn to the steep rugged hills of the northern Allegheny Mountains, residents of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. find respite on the beautiful water of Jennings Randolph Lake, less than 150 miles from home.
Jennings Randolph Reservoir was completed in 1982 as part of the Jennings Randolph Lake project. Originally named Bloomington Lake, the reservoir was renamed in honor of West Virginia Representative and Senator Jennings Randolph. Located eight miles north of the mouth of Savage River, the reservoir's 952 acres are an impoundment of the North Branch Potomac River. Savage River dam and Jennings Randolph Lake dam are operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. These two dams work in combination to protect water quality, manage flood control, provide regional water supplies and create recreational opportunities. The Water Resources Development Act of 1988 added downstream whitewater recreation to the project purposes.
ReserveAmerica consistently ranks the recreation areas at Jennings Randolph Lake among the country's best. Found within the park's 4,500 acres is a campground offering over 80 campsites with hot showers, restrooms, washhouse, playground, camp store, horseshoe pits, and an amphitheater for Saturday evening programs. Howell Run Picnic Area is set on a hillside offering sweeping views of Jennings Randolph Lake and its 14-mile shoreline. Pack your lunch and plan to spend the day enjoying the playground, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. Amenities at the picnic area include tables, grills, restrooms, and covered pavilions available with reservation and daily fee.
Shaw Beach is open to swimmers from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Come prepared for fun and relaxation along the 200-foot swimming beach. Dedicated sun-seekers will appreciate the additional grassy space where you can stretch out and soak up the rays. Facilities found at the beach include restrooms and changing building, playground, water fountains, foot-wash station and picnic tables. Life guards are not on duty so always keep safety in mind.
With a length of 5.5 miles, Jennings Randolph Reservoir is a boater's delight. Two paved boat launches are available. Howell Run Boat Launch is maintained by the Corps of Engineers and can be found off West Virginia's State Route 46. A day use fee or annual pass is required to use the launch unless you are a registered camper. Mt. Zion Road leads to Maryland's 30-foot wide, 600-foot long boat launch. Maryland also requires a fee to use their launch ramp. Both launch sites include a floating dock, paved parking lot, restrooms and nighttime lighting.
With at least four state trout fishing records having been drawn from the lake's waters, it is no wonder that fishing is the number one attraction at Jennings Randolph Reservoir. In 1989 Maryland Department of Natural Resources was granted a license to raise trout in a portion of the stilling basin. Over the past years West Virginia released 2,500,000 walleye fry and Maryland released 13,000 rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout into Randolph Jennings Reservoir. The coordinated water flow from Randolph Jennings dam and Savage River dam has improved the wild trout population downstream of the dams. In addition to trout, species found in Jennings Randolph Lake and North Branch Potomac River include common shiner, river chub, spottail shiner, white sucker, yellow bullhead, tiger muskellunge, Potomac sculpin, Blue Ridge sculpin, bluegill, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass.
The addition of Barnum Whitewater Area (BWA) in 1988 created a major new attraction at Jennings Randolph Lake. When sufficient water is available each spring and fall, the Corps release enough water from Jennings Randolph Reservoir to create Class I, II and III whitewater rapids. The run will carry you seven miles from Barnum, West Virginia to Bloomington, Maryland. Along the run, paddlers find areas of calm water perfect for swimming and fishing what is considered one of the best trout streams east of the Mississippi. Barnum Whitewater Area is managed by Mineral County Park and Recreation Commission. For convenience, the Commission also maintains year-round camping cabins in Barnum.
On either side of the former Bloomington Lake, visitors find endless opportunities to explore the outdoors. Within the Potomac Highland Tourism Region of West Virginia and a short walk from the Barnum Whitewater Area, lies 1200 acres of the Allegheny Wildlife Management Area. Another 5,000 acres of the wildlife area lies immediate east of Jennings Randolph Lake. Hunting bear, deer, grouse, squirrel, turkey, bobcat, gray and red foxes, and raccoon is permitted within the wildlife area.
Twenty miles northwest of Jennings Randolph Lake, you will find Deep Creek Lake, pride of the Western Maryland Tourism Region. This 3,900-acre reservoir is Maryland's largest freshwater lake. Activities at Deep Creek Lake include fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, biking and golf. When winter weather arrives, activities turn to ice fishing, skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Drive a few miles north and discover Savage River State Forest. Contained within the forest's 54,000 acres are 12,000 acres of "wildlands" waiting to be explored. Activities listed within the forest include biking, boating, cross-country skiing, camping, fishing, canoeing, hiking, hunting, picnicking, horseback riding and snowmobiling.
Knowing that there are few more beautiful places to live or vacation, lake-view properties are becoming available around Jennings Randolph Lake. Select hilltop cabins overlooking Jennings Randolph Lake, Potomac riverside vacation rentals, or real estate property within surrounding rural communities and you will find yourself at the center of unforgettable beauty and year-round outdoor adventures. Whether you paddle the rivers, fish the lakes, or hike the mountains, at the end of the day you will love calling Jennings Randolph Lake home.
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