In 1960, the Army Core of Engineers began construction on what is now known as Summersville Dam. Completed in 1966, and dedicated by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the lake and dam turn 51 years old this year. The original plan called for the dam to be further upstream, but eventually ended up several miles downstream to create Summersville Lake as we know it today. Today, when locals and tourists think of Summersville Lake, they think of a gorgeous wonderland perfect for rock climbing, stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking, and swimming.
During the summer months, the lake has over 2,700 acres of surface area of water, 60 miles of shoreline, crystal clear water with up to 40-feet of visibility. It’s over 300 feet deep at its deepest. The lake itself is actually the Gauley River, and when summer fades and fall arrives, it provides fun for whitewater enthusiasts who enjoy Class V whitewater excitement on the world-class Gauley River. Before the lake is slowly drained into the river each fall, you should grab your gear and friends and get ready for an amazing experience on the lake!
[column size=one_half position=last ][/column]Are you planning on a visit to Summersville Lake? We sure hope so, but there are some things a visitor should be prepared for. Most importantly, grab your life jacket! The lake is a very large place, crowded weekends can bring about sizable wake, and if you are enjoying yourself on any of a variety of appropriate water craft, it’s the law to have one (children 12 and under must wear it)! If you fancy rock climbing, grab your gear because the shorelines along the lake are home to hundreds of amazing rock climbs on bulletproof sandstone, or grab your old shoes and have some fun deep-water soloing. If you want to enjoy the water and sunshine climbing rope-less over the water, be warned, jumping (or falling) from heights above 6-feet carries a potential fine of up to $5,000.
If you crave a variety of activities, and want to have something enjoyable and fun for everyone in your group, then Summersville Lake is where you want to be! With so many ways to enjoy the lake, you can have fun by going rock climbing, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, or swimming. Want to do them all in a day? No problem, grab your gear and head out to one of the boat-launches: Salmon Run, Battle Run, or Summersville Lake Marina. If you plan to launch a water-craft, there is a reasonable $3 launch fee. Season passes available for the frequent visitor. Wanting to visit the lake but lack some of the gear or knowledge? Not a problem! There are outfitters that run guided trips! Make sure you don’t miss out on one of West Virginia’s most precious gems! Feel free to contact the author for more information on guided excursions!
Kyle Kent is an AMGA certified Rock Climbing Instructor and has 8-years experience and over 550 trips on Summersville Lake guiding rock climbing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. You can contact him at email@example.com