Discover the Deepest Lake in West Virginia

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: August 1, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Key Points

  • Summersville Lake is nicknamed “The Little Bahamas of the East” due to the crystal-clear waters.
  • There is a ghost town at the bottom of one of the biggest lakes in the state.
  • There are multiple dive sites including Long Point Cliff, the Overlook, and Copperhead Cove.
Summersville Lake is the deepest Lake in West Virginia
Summersville Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters.

West Virginia is nicknamed the Mountain State as it is right in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. There are six National Parks in West Virginia including the newest National Park in the US, the New River Gorge National Park. Many of the National Parks, State Parks, and Recreation Areas are centered around the beautiful lakes in the state.

Some of the lakes are popular recreational lakes year-round while others draw in scuba divers for unique underwater finds. Did you know there is a ghost town at the bottom of one of the biggest lakes in the state? Some of the deepest lakes are also the clearest and offer some epic fishing. Let’s find out about the deepest lake in West Virginia…is that where the ghost town is buried?

Summersville Lake, West Virginia

Aerial View of the rocky Long Point Peninsula at Summersville Lake, West Virginia in the summer.

©iStock.com/Eifel Kreutz

What is the Deepest Lake in West Virginia?

The deepest lake in West Virginia is Summersville Lake. The lake, named after the nearby town of Summersville, is in central West Virginia. The Summersville Lake State Wildlife Area is on the northern shores and the Battle Run Campground and Public Beach are on the southern shores. The rock formations on and around the lake provide a scenic backdrop for rock climbing and hiking. Summersville Lake is nicknamed “The Little Bahamas of the East” due to the crystal-clear waters. They claim to have the clearest water east of the Mississippi. This makes for some excellent scuba diving!

The deepest lake in West Virginia is Summersville Lake with a depth of 327 feet.

©iStock.com/EntropyWorkshop

How Deep is the Deepest Lake in West Virginia?

The deepest lake in West Virginia is 327 feet deep. For reference, 300 feet is the same as 100 yards, or the length of a football field so Summersville Lake is just a tad deeper than a football field is long. The clear waters make snorkeling and scuba diving popular on the lake. There are multiple dive sites including Long Point Cliff, the Overlook, and Copperhead Cove.

A small boat named the Thomas Patrick was sunk on purpose to give divers a point of interest. It is located about 30 feet deep just beyond the dam at the winter boat ramp. Guess what else is at the bottom of Summersville Lake? A buried ghost town!

“The Little Bahamas of the East” Summersville Lake West Virginia

Summersville Lake West Virginia is nicknamed “The Little Bahamas of the East” due to its crystal-clear waters.

©Dylon Beamer/Shutterstock.com

Where is Summersville Lake Located on a Map?

Summersville Lake is located in West Virginia, USA. To get there, one can take Interstate 79 and exit Mount Nebo. From there, follow Summersville Lake Road until you reach the lake. On a map, it can be found south of Summersville and north of Mount Nebo.

What Underwater Ghost Town is in Summersville Lake?

The town of Gad was located on McKee’s Creek, close to where the marina is now. In the early 1960s, the US Army Corps of Engineers decided building a dam and creating a reservoir was important to control flooding from the Gauley River. The Army Corps purchased the town and the residents moved away before the town was flooded as part of the project. This explains why there is a ghost town buried under Summersville Lake.

The running joke of the town is that when the committee had to decide on a name for the dam they joked about naming it after Gad…making it the Gad Dam. They decided to go for the name of a bigger nearby town and call it the Summersville Dam. Of course, a local brewery cashed in on the play on words and is proudly Gad Dam Brewing (with the best Gad Dam beer east of the Mississippi!).

What Kind of Fish Like the Deep Waters of Summersville Lake

Some of the best fishing in Summersville Lake is for bass (smallmouth and largemouth), walleye, catfish, and trout. The lake is stocked with trout below the dam in both the spring and the fall. In the winter some fish, like common carp, prefer the deeper waters. Carp are not going to be 320 feet at the bottom of the lake but they have been caught at depths of 30 feet. There are several boat ramps on the lake to launch your fishing boat or you can fish from shore.

Smallmouth bass underwater.

Summersville Lake offers excellent fishing for smallmouth bass.

©iStock.com/LaSalle-Photo

Are there any State Fishing Records from Summersville Lake?

There are two official state record-breaking fish from Summersville. Actually, there is a tie for the biggest yellow perch and both were pulled from the same lake. Although they were not the exact same weight, the regulations state there must be at least a pound difference to beat the old record. The first record was from 2010 when Craig Hollandsworth caught a 15.44-pound yellow perch while fishing on Summersville Lake. Eight years later in 2018, Clinton Mills caught a 14.5-pound yellow perch, officially tying the record.

This past spring another massive fish was caught in Summersville Lake but it didn’t quite beat the weight record. On May 7, 2022, Ayden Minick caught a 41.2-inch common carp to beat the length record but not the weight record. Minick’s carp weighed in at 45.2 pounds and the current state record is 47 pounds, held by Gary Johnson. Luckily this was a catch and release so in a few more years, this carp could put some pounds on and be the next state record-breaker!

How does the Deepest Lake in West Virginia Compare to the Deepest Lake in the US?

The deepest lake in West Virginia, Summersville Lake, is 327 feet deep. In the US, the deepest lake sits in an old volcano in southern Oregon. Crater Lake is nearly two thousand feet deep. The deepest spot on the lake is 1,949 feet deep! The lake formed thousands of years ago when Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed. The big crater at the top of the mountain was a massive hole and gradually filled in with water from rain and snow melt. The lake is now almost 5 miles wide and almost 6 miles long.

Animals That Live Around Summersville Lake

Summerville Lake has a wildlife management area that is over 6000 acres and ranges over forests and cliffs. Owned by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and managed by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, this area is considered a high-yielding hunting ground. You will find turkey, deer, grouse, waterfowl, bear, and squirrel surrounding the area. Although the main attraction is still primarily the lake.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Eifel Kreutz


Share on:
About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Recreation.gov, Available here: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/333
  2. Britannica Kids, Available here: https://kids.britannica.com/students/assembly/view/126885
  3. Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/place/Summersville
  4. Scuba Diving, Available here: https://www.scubadiving.com/where-to-go-scuba-diving-in-west-virginias-summersville-lake