5 Lakes in Pennsylvania That Completely Freeze Over in the Winter

Traveller man foot standing on cracks surface of the natural ice in frozen water at Olkhon Island, Baikal lake, Russia
© N_Sakarin/Shutterstock.com

Written by Angie Menjivar

Published: February 14, 2024

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You’d think that once a lake freezes over, the fun is over. That might be true for some but those who thrive in cold weather just look for opportunities to keep exploring! Anglers, for example, wait eagerly for lakes to freeze so they can head out and do some ice fishing. Does that sound like you? If so, discover six lakes in Pennsylvania that completely freeze over in the winter!

5 Lakes in Pennsylvania That Completely Freeze Over in the Winter

1. Lake Erie

Frozen Lake Erie

Lake Erie doesn’t always freeze over completely, but there have been years when it has experienced 100% ice coverage.


It makes up a part of the Great Lakes but it’s the smallest one. It’s only 119 cubic miles in volume and is just over 240 miles across. However, it does have 871 miles of shoreline. On average, the depth of Lake Erie is just over 60 feet, but some portions of the lake exceed 200 feet. Because of its size, it’s much more likely to freeze over during the winter months in comparison to the other, larger lakes. Similarly, once spring rolls around, it’s the first to thaw and warm up.

The lake doesn’t always freeze over entirely, however. For example, in 2022, 87.3% of the lake was covered in ice but last year, less than half of the lake was completely covered on the same date. Typically, February 10 is when the lake has the most ice but how much ice forms changes year to year. Nevertheless, there has been 100% ice coverage in the past in 1978, 1979, and 1996.

2. Raystown Lake

It’s rare for Raystown Lake to completely freeze over so when it happens, even seasoned park rangers are left in awe.

©Christian Hinkle/Shutterstock.com

Many residents and tourists flock to Raystown Lake to enjoy outdoor adventures. The lake twists beautifully and extends across 27 miles. There are camping and day-use areas and you can always enjoy water sports on the lake. Generally, the lake remains open, even during the winter. It’s rare for it to freeze over completely but it does happen.

Even when it hasn’t frozen over completely, when lows are below freezing, you can expect to encounter some ice on parts of the lake. One of the years when the lake froze was 2014. There was a layer of ice on the entire lake and even the most seasoned park rangers were surprised by the occurrence. Although they don’t have any rules set up for traversing the ice as a visitor, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a safety warning at the time, urging all visitors to keep their distance from the frozen lake.

3. Pymatuning Reservoir

A scenic view of an old stone gate house on the water of Pymatuning Reservoir lake in USA

This lake is popular for ice fishing, but anglers typically have to wait until January to head out.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

Pymatuning Reservoir in PA is massive, covering over 17,000 acres. There is plenty of space for everyone to go boating, swimming, and fishing. Many visitors camp around the state park or just visit for day use. One of the favorite pastimes for anglers at Pymatuning Reservoir is ice fishing. However, it’s not safe to ice fish on the lake during the early months of winter. Usually, anglers have to wait until January for the lake to freeze over.

It’s certainly not an adventure for everyone but anglers who love the sport find it the perfect excuse to get outdoors and spend some time with their friends. Even though they have to endure the harsh temperatures, they always seem to have a good time.

4. Presque Isle Bay

Ice Fisherman on Presque Isle Bay, Erie Pa

Fed by Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay is relatively small and when it freezes over, anglers move in!

©Paul Eric Sandstrom/Shutterstock.com

This bay is small, with a width of just under two miles and a length of just under five miles. On average, the depth of Presque Isle Bay is 13.1 feet. It’s not uncommon for the lake to freeze over and park officials remind visitors to stay off the ice unless it is at minimum four inches thick.

This year, a polar vortex moved through the area and those sub-freezing temperatures were ideal for freeze-over conditions. Last year, there was a cold snap, but it was brief, which limited ice fishing. This year, it’s looking like the ice is keeping for a little bit longer, which is fantastic news for all the anglers looking to catch crappie, perch, and blue gill.

5. Blue Marsh Lake

Panoramic landscape of Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County, PA in winter with a snow-covered field in the foreground

This lake is 1,150 acres and frequently freezes over during the winter season.


Blue Marsh Lake is another Pennsylvania lake that completely freezes over. It is open for recreational activities, including swimming, boating, water skiing, and fishing. The lake is 1,150 acres and visitors can also enjoy the surrounding area where they can view wildlife, go hiking, and picnic. When colder air settles into the region, the water starts freezing over.

Officials are constantly reminding visitors to be safe when going out onto the lake, offering instructions for what to do if you ever fall through the ice. Although it can be dangerous, many head outdoors for winter recreation. So long as they’re safe, everyone can have a good time.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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