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Scenic Summersville Lake is the largest lake in West Virginia. The reservoir was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control on the Gauley and Kanawha Rivers, and boasts one of the largest earthen dam east of the Mississippi River. Since its completion in 1966, Summersville Lake has developed into the jewel of the state, offering wonderful recreational opportunities to all visitors.
Boaters love to explore Summersville Lake's 2790 acres. Several public boat ramps are available for launching. Visitors are drawn to the lake's rolling hills, cascading cliffs, and 60 miles of gentle shoreline. Whitewater enthusiasts will find adventure at the nearby Gauley River National Recreation Area. The Gauley River contains several Class V rapids as it flows through scenic gorges and valleys.
Fishing is another activity to enjoy immense popularity at Summersville Lake with healthy populations of smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, and channel catfish. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources stocks trout in the tail waters below the dam. Keep in mind that all anglers are required to have a West Virginia fishing license.
A somewhat unusual popular draw to Summersville Lake is scuba diving. The lake has been called "little Bahamas of the east" by Skin Divers magazine as the steep cliffs that disappear below the surface, great visibility of up to 45 feet and relatively warm waters make diving here very enjoyable. Missing only tropical fish, Sunnersville divers can enjoy swimming with bass, walleye, sunfish and catfish. Scuba fans can rent their own boat or arrange a spot on dives scheduled by the local dive shop.
Summersville Lake is a favorite among photographers several seasons of the year. Summer brings out the beautiful greens of grass and trees, contrasted with their autumn offerings of gold, red and orange against the distant mountains and reflected in the clear waters. A short climb to the cliffs soaring above the lake offer the perfect perspective from which to capture the area's spectacular beauty.
Summersville Lake's level is lowered in winter by the USACE. Regularly kept near 1652 feet above sea level for summer recreation, the water level is lowered to 1575 feet from October to March to provide storage space for snow melt and possible flooding from spring rains.
As the largest lake in the state, visitors arrive with a variety of activities they wish to enjoy. Luckily, Summersville Lake is well prepared to fulfill so many vacation dreams. The reservoir serves as the ideal vacation destination for visitors with all types of interests. We hope you can come to Summersville Lake and make your own memories. See you soon!
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