The 5 Best Pennsylvania Lakes For Swimming

Raystown Lake
Jason Calimer/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyler Matthews

Updated: June 13, 2023

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The state of Pennsylvania is home to some of the most beautiful and scenic lakes in the United States. Honestly, Pennsylvania is a big place with a lake for everyone and anyone looking to go swimming, fishing, boating, or other outdoor activities. So, whether you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or a destination for an exciting family vacation, Pennsylvania’s many lakes are sure to make your trip memorable. 

Below is a list of links to official websites and information about these lakes:

Now it’s time to head out on an adventure to explore the five best Pennsylvania lakes for swimming!

Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake

The waters of Raystown Lake are generally clean and clear throughout the year.

Raystown Lake is the first of these Pennsylvanian waters to be discussed. There are plenty of things to do in Raystown Lake and the Raystown Lake Region of Pennsylvania. Swimming is obviously a great thing to do there, but it’s not the only thing you can enjoy about this lake. Things like going for walks through the forest or alongside the lake are fantastic ideas since there’s nothing like enjoying the shoreline scenery and a breath of fresh air. 

During summer, the water temperatures warm up to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And due to minimal development on an industrialized scale, the waters of Raystown Lake are generally clean and clear throughout the year.

The lake offers many kinds of things to do in addition to swimming. There are activities such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking (just to name a few). But, if you’re looking for something more relaxing to do, you can simply bring a camping chair and gaze at the stars by the fire at night. With many relaxing spots available to you, such as the Lake Raystown Resort, for example, you’ll surely have a great time at Raystown Lake.

Also, during the summer, the surrounding places put on many different kinds of events (such as movie nights and free concerts). And you can also take a sightseeing cruise on the Mary Showboat in Raystown after swimming in the lake. While on board you can have breakfast or dinner on the deck, and admire the rolling hills that you can see around you. The best time for this cruise opportunity is between September and October when the foliage is most beautiful!

A Quick View of Raystown Lake

  • Raystown Lake is known for having some of the clearest water in Pennsylvania.
  • During the summer months, the lake water temperature reaches a comfortable 70 degrees (on average).
  • The waters are mostly undeveloped, which helps keep them clean and clear throughout most of the year.
  • Situated in rural Huntingdon County, Raystown Lake has large stretches of state forest and is one of Pennsylvania’s biggest lakes.
  • Raystown Lake is an excellent destination for a day trip of activities. There are many camping grounds and hiking trails surrounding the lake.
  • There are sandy areas for relaxation and grassy fields for picnics. There is also a wide range of possible water-based activities such as kayaking, boating, fishing, etc. (only to name a few). 
  • Although it was built in 1973 (for electricity generation and flood control purposes), the lake is now mainly utilized for recreational purposes, with an 8,300-acre expanse. 

Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack

The indigenous 

Lenape

 people named the area in which the lake resides, “Wallenpaupack”, which meant “The Stream of Swift and Slow Water.”

Fun fact: the native or indigenous Lenape people named the area in which the lake resides, “Wallenpaupack”, which meant “The Stream of Swift and Slow Water.” However, Lake Wallenpaupack is a man-made reservoir. It has loads of activities for one to do in a day (or in a week for that matter).

In fact, you can explore six different public/recreational locations on Lake Wallenpaupack. Among such amenities are many outfitter stores to choose from, each offering tourists and visitors the chance for kayaking, water skiing, and wakeboarding — and even jet ski and boat rentals. All of this is to enable family and friends to make the most of their Lake Wallenpaupack experience. This is why this lake is one of the best lakes for swimming in Pennsylvania.

Lake Wallenpaupack is far-reaching, as it sprawls 5,700 acres. So, it’s sure to be pleasing to the entire family (or group) of individuals having a variety of different tastes. And Lake Wallenpaupack is the second-largest lake that is contained entirely within the state of Pennsylvania (52 miles of shoreline). This is another thing that makes this lake a popular destination for people who not only love to go swimming, but who may also enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, and camping.

Lake Wallenpaupack’s Many Recreational Opportunities

To add to the magnificence of the lake, the surrounding area around Lake Wallenpaupack is home to a variety of wildlife and native flora. This is, again, why Lake Wallenpaupack is a great destination for so many different kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. So, whether you’re looking for a fun day out on the lake or an adventure-filled weekend getaway, Lake Wallenpaupack is a perfect destination!

In addition to its recreational offerings, Lake Wallenpaupack provides habitats for many species of birds and other wildlife. The lake is also a popular spot for anglers. It offers a wide variety of fish including bass, muskie, perch, sunfish, crappie, yellow and white perch, walleye, and more. Boating is another popular pastime on the lake. Visitors can rent boats for fishing trips or just to explore the area.

The lake also has plenty of camping opportunities with numerous campgrounds located nearby. Campers can enjoy lakeside views, nature trails, swimming pools, playgrounds, and many other amenities. Visitors can also rent cabins for a more secluded experience.

In addition to the recreational activities available on Lake Wallenpaupack, there is also plenty of history in the area. The lake was created by the construction of hydroelectric dams along the Delaware River in 1926. Visitors can explore the many historical sites in and around the lake, such as Grey Towers National Historic Site.

Whether you’re looking for a fishing adventure or just want to relax by the lake, Lake Wallenpaupack offers something for everyone. With its wide variety of activities and stunning natural beauty, it’s no surprise that this lake is one of Pennsylvania’s most popular tourist destinations. So, be sure to plan your visit soon and create some lasting memories at Lake Wallenpaupack!

Quick View of Lake Wallenpaupack

  • Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, scenic vistas, nearby towns, and attractions, and so much more!
  • Lake Wallenpaupack is part of the Delaware River Basin. It is a vital source of clean drinking water and recreation for residents in the region.
  • Some of the more popular species of fish in the lake include bass, pickerel, northern pike, and walleye.
  • There is a visitor center that offers its services to the traveling public visiting the Lake Wallenpaupack area.
  • The visitor center also offers its services to people visiting the Pocono Mountains Region.
  • There is a public designated area called Palmyra Township Public Beach

Pymatuning Lake 

Pymatuning Lake

Pymatuning Lake is a great place for swimming because it has three different public beaches.

Pymatuning Lake is an absolutely perfect spot to spend time with family and friends in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania! The lake is located in the Pymatuning State Park of Pennsylvania. There are plenty of other activities one can do at this lake that includes more than just swimming. You can enjoy camping, fishing, and boating at Pymatuning Lake. With the lake’s stunning views and calm waters, Pymatuning Lake is one of the most visited lakes in Pennsylvania. You can see why it is such a great place to spend some quality time with family and friends!

One of the reasons this lake is one of the best Pennsylvania lakes for swimming is because it has three different public beaches that are designated for swimming: Linesville Beach, Main Beach, and just as it sounds, Beach Two. Whether you’re interested in spending time swimming and boating or on the beach sunbathing, Pymatuning Lake will not let you down. 

Quick View of Pymatuning Lake

  • Let’s just say that Pymatuning State Park is big. So, as you can imagine Pymatuning Lake is going to be big also. Coming in at around 17,088 acres, Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest lake in Pennsylvania.
  • The Pymatuning State Park itself is one of the most visited state parks in Pennsylvania.
  • Get ready for a blast at Pymatuning Lake, doing anything from boating, fishing, swimming, camping activities, and more, making for endless fun as a family or group! 
  • Along with the state park facilities, you can check out the awesome fish hatchery, and/or the visitor center that is also run by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Or you could check out the different wildlife viewing areas operated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
  • If you love birds, you can watch for the majestic eagles sighted at Wilson Launch. Or, anglers love catching walleye or crappie from the shorelines that have been developed particularly for fishing.
  • Visitors can canoe or kayak or canoe along the Shenango River. The Linesville, Espyville, and Jamestown marinas also have pontoon boats available to rent.
  • The Linesville or Jamestown campgrounds are great places to stay. While there, visitors can learn about the history of the dam, reservoir, and swamp as well.
  • Experience the breathtaking beauty of a Spillway Trail sunset before spending the night in a Jamestown Cabin.

Whether you’re looking to unwind with family or explore with friends, there are tons of recreational opportunities just waiting for you!

Canadohta Lake

Canadohta Lake sunset June 2020

if you’re in search of a swimming experience or a relaxing weekend by the water, Canadohta Lake can be the perfect spot for you!

Canadohta Lake is Pennsylvania’s second-largest natural lake and is located in Crawford County. Swimming is one of the best things to do at Canadohta Lake. In fact, there’s even a public beach located at Elmwood Park suited just for the occasion. So, if you’re in search of a swimming experience or a relaxing weekend by the water, Canadohta Lake can be the perfect spot for you!

Other activities you can enjoy include canoeing or kayaking on the lake, taking a hike on the walking trails nearby, or even having a picnic at one of the pavilions. No matter what you decide to do here, Canadohta Lake is sure to provide a great time!

Quick View of Canadohta Lake

  • As one of the region’s most beautiful, best-kept secrets, Canadohta Lake has taken on several names over the years. Since the lake is near Drake’s Well, people used to call it Oil Creek Lake. However, today the lake has evolved into a beautiful and relaxing community with plenty of opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing.
  • All of those big fish stories you’ve heard are true, and you can come cast your own line during any season.
  • The lake has an annual ice fishing competition put on by the locals and draws in fishermen from all walks of life.
  • Visitors can enjoy the nice hometown atmosphere of the lake town with many fun places to eat, miniature golf, roller asking, beaches, and boat rentals.
  • There’s plenty of wildlife living in and around the lake. One who visits may see a few deer, wild turkeys, and more.
  • Anglers might consider trying out the lake for some great fishing; it’s stocked with trout, bass, walleye, muskellunge, and more.

Lake Harmony

Lake Harmony

The lake itself is in private ownership by Lake Harmony Estates, which keeps it in good shape, making it fun to swim in.

Lake Harmony is famous for being a natural glacial-fed body of water. Since the water comes from the mountains, it is pristine and clear. The lake drains into Tobyhanna Creek and then flows into the Lehigh River. Lake Harmony also has many other entertainments for visitors, like several recreational areas, golf courses, resorts, restaurants, and vacation homes. It is definitely worth exploring if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or fun-filled outdoor adventure. In addition to the beautiful lake, the landscape here is filled with beautiful forests, flower-filled meadows, rolling hills, and hiking trails to explore.

The lake itself is in private ownership by Lake Harmony Estates, which keeps it in good shape, making it fun to swim in. Powerboats are permitted in Lake Harmony, unlike Big Boulder Lake, allowing for various water sports such as water skiing, boating, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming of course!

Fishing is also allowed, and the lake is stocked with bass, walleye, panfish, and muskellunge. So, Lake Harmony is a great vacation choice for your next family adventure! Because of its crystal clear waters in such a peaceful setting, it is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

In addition, there are many fun things to do all throughout the year near Lake Harmony. Visitors can check out the many concerts and theatrical performances nearby, shop the specialty stores and outlet malls, go horseback riding, or even visit the nearby waterpark.

Quick View of Lake Harmony

  • Lake Harmony community is a popular destination for tourists to go fishing, boating, camping, and all sorts of other outdoor activities. You can enjoy guided kayak tours of the lake, hiking trails, and swimming at one of the beaches located around the lake.
  • Lake visitors can even enjoy convenient access via multiple marinas.
  • Lake Harmony as a community is always in season and there are many yearly events that mark the calendar. The community is also known for its festivals and celebrations that bring the locals together. It’s a great place to visit any time of year with plenty of activities and entertainment.
  • The 15,990 acres Hickory Run State Park is not too far from Lake Harmony. There are many natural features to explore there, as well as golf courses, restaurants, and shops. Visitors can even check out NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway!


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About the Author

My education is in psychology and social anthropology, and I love watching nature documentaries. I have an overall passion for learning about wildlife wherever I can — both human and animal cultures alike.

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