The 6 Biggest Lakes in Northern Virginia

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: June 11, 2023
Share on:


Consider one of Virginia’s lakes for a vacation or day trip, whether you like to fish, boat, swim, or admire the serene reflections dancing over the water. Virginia is a breathtakingly beautiful state tucked between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, and it is well known for its magnificent landscape. Tourists visit Virginia yearly to enjoy the state’s stunning scenery, including numerous beaches, vineyards, mountains, and lakes.

While most of the state’s lakes lie in its southeastern and central regions, lakes in Northern Virginia are too stunning to be taken for granted. You can engage in watersports, including boating, fishing, swimming, and other water activities all around Northern Virginia. A day on the water can be exactly what you need, regardless of whether you own a boat or intend to hire one.

Land lovers can go birdwatching, hiking, mountain biking, riding horses, and exploring the picturesque woodlands and topography surrounding the lakes and reservoirs. If you ever find yourself in one of the region’s counties, here are the 6 biggest lakes you can enjoy in Northern Virginia.

What Makes Up Northern Virginia?

Northern Virginia is the most populous area in Virginia.


Northern Virginia, sometimes known as NOVA or NoVA, is a region of the American state of Virginia with several independent cities and counties. The counties of Arlington, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William, as well as the separate cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria, Manassas, and Manassas Park, make up the majority of definitions of Northern Virginia.

As per the 2020 Census, it is the most populous area in Virginia and the Washington metropolitan area, with more than 3 million inhabitants, or almost 37% of Virginia’s overall population. Additionally, the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William are frequently listed among the richest in the US, with median household incomes exceeding $100,000.

The 6 Biggest Lakes in Northern Virginia

6. Germantown Lake – 109 acres

Germantown Lake VA

Germantown Lake is only accessible by electric-powered boats and is open from sunrise until dusk.

©Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

Germantown Lake, a 109-acre body of water in Fauquier County, Northern Virginia, is part of C. M. Crockett Park. Germantown Lake is a beautiful place to visit in Northern Virginia and a terrific place for a family vacation because it is safely tucked in the mellow hills and woodlands of C. M. Crockett Park.

To help reduce flooding, the US Soil Conservation Service impounded Licking Run in 1985, resulting in the creation of Germantown Lake. A wonderful recreational feature, the resulting reservoir offers guests a place to paddle, boat, sail, and fish. Channel catfish are occasionally added to Germantown Reservoir, where bluegill, largemouth bass, and crappie are all common.

Fauquier County controls the lake, and the county owns the boat ramp that provides access to it. Additionally, a concession offers boat rentals as well as shore access. Germantown Lake is only accessible by electric-powered boats and is open from sunrise until dusk.

5. Lake Frederick – 117 acres

Looking north on the Shenandoah River from the Low Water Bridge, in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.

Lake Frederick is just 15 miles from the famous and beautiful Shenandoah River (pictured here).

©Jon Bilous/

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is the proprietor of the 117-acre impoundment known as Lake Frederick in Frederick County, Virginia. In 1981, the department purchased the lake and a fifty-foot fence that encircled the whole shoreline. All year long, Lake Frederick is crystal clear, and in the summer, it stratifies and forms a thermocline.

The lake’s average depth is 20 feet, and its maximum depth is 50 feet. While you won’t be able to use every kind of boat on the lake, you can use kayaks and canoes in addition to electric trolling motor boats. The lower end of the lake and the area near the dam’s breast provide good bank fishing access.

When fishing in Lake Frederick, anglers may come across various fish species, including bluegill, largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, redear sunfish, and northern pike. Channel catfish and northern pike are stocked yearly by the VDGIF, while the other fish species in Lake Frederick breed naturally.

4. Burke Lake – 218 acres

Burke Lake Virginia

Fishing, boating, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, and other activities are available at Burke Lake.


Burke Lake is a 218-acre (88 hectares) freshwater lake located in Burke Lake Park. The lake is close to Fairfax and is owned and managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA). Visitors can paddle or row boats, use electric motors, and go fishing on the lake, thanks to Fairfax County.

Burke Lake offers a large body of water for boat enthusiasts to explore. Fishing, boating, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, and other activities are available here. Fishing can be enjoyed from the shore or a fishing pier even if you don’t want to take a boat out on the water.

The lake contains three fishing bulkheads, a fishing pier, a public marina and public launch ramps, and a boat launching port. It also has 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of fishing shoreline. However, swimming is not permitted in the lake.

Burke Lake Park, a public park that the FCPA also owns, surrounds the lake. In addition to a carousel, miniature golf, ice cream shop, miniature railway, campers, a fishing pier, and various playgrounds and picnic spots, the park offers several recreational amenities.

3. Lake Manassas – 770 acres

Lake Manassas Virginia

Lake Manassas was created in 1969 by damming the Broad Run River.

©Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

In Prince William County, Virginia, lies the 770-acre (310 ha) Lake Manassas reservoir. Despite being outside the city lines, it is owned and run by the city of Manassas, Virginia. It is tucked away in the picturesque rolling hills in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County. The 770 acres of Lake Manassas, owned by the City of Manassas, were created in 1969 by damming the Broad Run River.

Unfortunately, there has been no public access to Lake Manassas for a number of years. The city wanted to build a different route to get to its water treatment facility across from the dam, but Prince William County rejected a special use permit request. The city looked into other access sites up the lake, but they could not find a workable location. In the meantime, homes are still being constructed in the gated neighborhood that encircles Lake Manassas, and more people are making the lake their home yearly.

2. Occoquan Reservoir – 2,100 acres

Occoquan Reservoir Virginia

The second-largest lake in Northern Virginia is Burke Lake.

©John M. Chase/

Burke Lake is not distant from the 2,100-acre (850-hectare) Occoquan Reservoir. It is situated alongside the Occoquan River and offers lots of space for outdoor leisure. Releasing about 17 million US gallons per day to 1.2 million people and more than half of Prince William County’s population, it serves as a significant water supply to nearby settlements in Northern Virginia.

The Fairfax County Water Authority runs it, and despite being located on the boundary of Fairfax County, the Occoquan Reservoir is technically a part of Prince William County. Occoquan is a dialect used by the Dogue tribe of Native Americans and means “at the end of the water.” The Dogue tribe inhabited Northern Virginia until the middle of the 1600s.

Fly fishermen and anglers reel in a variety of fish at this attractive fishing location, including largemouth bass, bluegill, black and white crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, northern pike, and white perch. Boating is another major hobby on Occoquan Reservoir, surrounded by rocky shorelines and overhanging trees that block the wind.

1. Lake Anna – 9,600 acres

Take at Lake Anna VA

The biggest lake in Northern Virginia is Lake Anna.


In Northern Virginia lies a freshwater inland reservoir known as Lake Anna, which encompasses the state’s Northern and Central tourist regions. The fourth-largest lake in Virginia, Lake Anna, boasts 9,600 acres (38.85 km2) of surface water, featuring sandy beaches and recreational facilities for camping, fishing, boating, and picnics. The inviting warmth, long shoreline, and stunning blue skies of Lake Anna will encourage you to go swimming, and the state park has a public swimming beach from which to do so.

In 1971, Virginia Electric and Power Company dammed the North Anna River to create Lake Anna. Heavy rains from Hurricane Agnes in 1972 filled Lake Anna two years ahead of plan, filling it to the “full pond” level of 257 feet above sea level, which was supposed to take three years.

Despite having a total of 13,000 acres, only 9,600 are accessible to the general public. The remaining 3,400 acres are made up of three small lakes utilized to disperse heat into the atmosphere and receive cooling waters from the nuclear facility. Only landowners and their guests are permitted access to these acres.

In the lake, there are over 30 different kinds of fish, but many anglers favor largemouth bass, striped bass, walleye, catfish, and crappie. Even an alligator or two might be visible when lounging by the lake. With so much to do, it’s understandable why children and individuals of all ages choose to cool off at Lake Anna during the sweltering summer months.

On the other hand, Lake Anna has the highest number of copperhead bites in all of Virginia. It is allegedly because riprap shorelines offer a variety of snakes the perfect environment.

Summary of the 6 Biggest Lakes in Northern Virginia

RankLakeSurface Area
6Germantown Lake109 acres
5Lake Frederick 117 acres
4Burke Lake218 acres
3Lake Manassas770 acres
2Occoquan Reservoir2,100 acres
1Lake Anna9,600 acres
Table of the 6 Biggest Lakes in Northern Virginia

The photo featured at the top of this post is © JWorley-Adventures/

Share on:
About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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