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11 Best Lakes for Recreation near Allentown, PA

Typical to Pennsylvania, the lakes around Allentown vary in permitted activities and types of access. Truly versatile reservoirs are hard to find, but together these lakes offer plenty of summer and winter activities.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Allentown PA

The selection of lakes around Allentown is excellent, but not all have public access or permit water activities. 

The collection below consists of highly-regarded lakes opened to the public and located less than an hour’s drive from the city.

One option that stands out is Beltzville Lake, north of Allentown. This destination has hardly any restrictions and is one of a few lakes that have a swimming beach and permit water skiing.

The rest of the options are less versatile, but those who enjoy fishing, boating, and kayaking will not be disappointed.

Learn more about the area and discover what Allentown has to offer! 

Lakes near Allentown:

  1. Lake Nockamixon
  2. Lake Towhee
  3. Beltzville Lake
  4. Leaser Lake
  5. Ontelaunee Lake
  6. Dutch Springs
  7. Merrill Creek Reservoir
  8. Mauch Chunk Lake
  9. Green Lane Reservoir
  10. Deep Creek Lake
  11. Peace Valley Reservoir
Lakes near Allentown Pennsylvania Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Nockamixon

Hot Air Baloon on Lake Nockamixon
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Lake Nockamixon
  • Distance from Allentown: 20 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming (pool), Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Cabins, Picnics, Ice Skating, Sledging, Cross-Country Skiing

Located 20 miles southeast of downtown Allentown, Lake Nockamixon is a popular place to visit in Bucks County. 

A dam built in 1973 for flood control and recreational purposes impounded Tohickon Creek, Haycock Run, and Three Mile Run, creating this 1,450-acre reservoir. 

The state established Nockamixon State Park in an area with forests and hills. Since its creation, the lake and park surrounding it have become well-known as a place for fishing, boating, camping, and other outdoor activities.

Close enough to many urban areas, including the Philadelphia metro, Lake Nockamixon is open year-round. 

Hiking, biking, hunting, disc golfing, camping, nature watching, and enjoying an evening in one of the cabins are among the many options available for those who visit. 

Warm-weather bike trails turn into an escape for cross-country skiing as snow covers the ground. Ice Fishing and Ice Skating are also possible.

An environmental education center offers children’s programs and other seasonal events. 

Those who enjoy fishing may bring boats with motors of up to 20 horsepower into the lake. Seasonal rental of boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are available. 

The lake is popular for catamarans and sailboats, with windsurfers congregating when breezes kick up in intensity. 

Fish found here include walleye, muskellunge, bass, channel catfish, carp, and pickerel. 

2. Lake Towhee

A lake full of lily pads in Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Towhee
  • Distance from Allentown: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, Ice Skating, Cross-Country Skiing

A few miles north of Lake Nockamixon and a little more than 16 miles southeast of Allentown, Lake Towhee sits in a Bucks County Park. 

This 32-acre lake, created by an impoundment of Dimple Creek, is the site of a water and boating program at Lake Towhee Park

The park’s activities include fishing, hiking, picnicking, sports activities on recreation fields, and group and individual camping opportunities.

Anglers who cast a line from a vessel or the embankment will find good fishing prospects in Lake Towhee much of the year. 

Common species found here include black crappie, bluegill, chain pickerel, yellow bullhead, and largemouth bass. 

3. Beltzville Lake

Beltzville Lake in Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Beltzville Lake
  • Distance from Allentown: 31 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Ice Skating, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Ice Boating

A drive of approximately 30 miles north-northwest of downtown, Beltzville Lake is an impoundment of Pohopoco Creek created as a flood control initiative by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1969. 

The 949-acre lake is the centerpiece of Beltzville State Park, a 3,002-acre preserve that officially opened in 1972. 

Situated in the southern foothills of the Pocono Mountains, this lake joins other bodies of water – such as Lake Nockamixon – as a place where migrating waterfowl visit during their seasonal journeys. 

Summertime visitors enjoy a 525-foot sandy beach and swimming area of the lake that attracts crowds from May through September. 

Many of the 15 miles of trails that attract hikers during the summer transform into places where snowshoers and cross-country skiers visit during the chilly winter. 

Those who enjoy fishing and ice fishing venture to Beltzville Lake. Fish commonly caught in this reservoir include trout, striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, muskellunge, and walleye.

4. Leaser Lake

Leaser Lake in Pennsylvania
Source: wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Website: Leaser Lake
  • Distance from Allentown: 27 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Located 25 miles northwest of downtown, Leaser Lake is part of a 540-acre park managed by Lehigh County and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. 

An earthen dam along a branch of the Ontelaunee Creek formed this 117-acre body of water in 1971. Created for recreational purposes, this impoundment is the only true lake in Lehigh County. 

Named for Frederick Leaser, who moved the Liberty Bell to Allentown during the American Revolution for its protection, this lake within Leaser Lake Park is a top fishing destination in the area. 

Wooded areas near the lake are popular for hiking and winter cross-country skiing. Although swimming is not permitted, boating and fishing are allowed. 

A four-mile trail around the lake offers great vantage points. The Leaser Lake Heritage Foundation is an advocacy group that works with the county to improve facilities at this park.

Those who bring a rod and reel will find a variety of species commonly found in this part of the Commonwealth. 

Species include muskellunge, largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, chain pickerel, rainbow trout, and brown bullhead.

5. Ontelaunee Lake

Ontelaunee Lake Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Ontelaunee Lake
  • Distance from Allentown: 30 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Ontelaunee Lake is located 30 miles southwest of Allentown. The second-largest lake in Berks County after Blue Marsh, this 1,082 body of water is also an artificial reservoir. 

The City of Reading began to build a dam along a section of Maiden Creek in 1926 to create a reliable water supply for the community. The lake took shape in the early 1930s. Hiking and hunting are popular here. 

Although boating and direct water contact through swimming and other activities are prohibited, fishing is a very common activity on Lake Ontelaunee. 

Catfish, muskellunge, bass, catfish, alewife, perch, bluegill, carp, and sunfish swim in this reservoir. 

6. Dutch Springs

Dutch Springs Pennsylvania
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Dutch Springs
  • Distance from Allentown: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Scuba Diving

Twelve miles northeast of downtown, Dutch Springs sits on the northern side of Bethlehem Township. This site has experienced many transitions in the past 90 years. 

A quarry began operations here in 1933 when the Portland Cement Company mined limestone to create cement. 

As crews dug deeper, they reached the aquifer of Monocacy Creek, and the pit began to fill with water. Pumping of this spring-fed water ceased in the 1970s when cement operations ended.

Located in an area now surrounded by warehouses, for many years, Dutch Springs had been a commercial recreation area that became a top destination for scuba divers to practice their skills. 

When the Dutch Springs attraction closed, the owner decided to sell the lands and this 57-acre reservoir to a developer who planned to build warehouses. 

The body of water is now officially known as Lake Hydra, a location where seasonal scuba diving will continue. 

The remainder of the former Dutch Springs will transition into other uses, including warehouses. 

Although access is limited during the off-season and fishing is not generally permitted, those who dive into this lake will see bass, bluegill, yellow perch, and koi.

7. Merrill Creek Reservoir

Merrill Creek reservoir in Washington, New Jersey in the autumn
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Merrill Creek Reservoir
  • Distance from Allentown: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics, Bird Watching

Located approximately 25 miles northeast of downtown Allentown, Merrill Creek Reservoir took shape after an impoundment was created along the creek in 1988. 

Created as a reservoir for releasing water into the Delaware River during periods of low flow, the 650-acre reservoir has become a popular site to visit since opening to the public in May 1989. 

In addition to the body of water, the surrounding area includes approximately 2,000 acres of fields and forests for hiking, along with more than five miles of shoreline. 

This year-round destination is a popular place for fishing, hiking, observing wildlife, and cross-country skiing. 

Although direct water contact is not permitted and no direct contact with frozen ice is allowed, the location has become a preferred destination for fishing. 

Common species include brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, walleye, yellow perch, bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. 

A New Jersey state record 8 lbs. 10 oz. landlocked salmon was caught here in 2021. 

8. Mauch Chunk Lake

Scenic Mauch Chunk Lake in Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Mauch Chunk Lake
  • Distance from Allentown: 33 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics

Mauch Chunk Lake is a little more than 30 miles northwest of the city. 

Located a short distance southwest of Jim Thorpe, this lake came into being in 1972 after the US Army Corps of Engineers built an earthen dam to address the historic flooding that occurred during heavy water flows in White Bear Creek and Mauch Chunk Creek. 

Floods in 1969 caused damage in Jim Thorpe. Heavy rainfall caused by the remnants of Hurricane Agnes in 1972, the year the dam went into service, proved its value since the reservoir held back the waters. 

This 320-acre lake is the focal point of Carbon County’s Mauch Chunk Lake Park. Visitors to this park enjoy hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, and boating. 

A sandy beach invites summertime swimmers to congregate along the lake’s northern shore. Seasonal rentals of rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats are available. 

A boat launch offers opportunities to fish in this reservoir. Common fish include catfish, bluegill, crappie, walleye, chain pickerel, muskellunge, bass, perch, and occasional trout. 

9. Green Lane Reservoir

Green Lane reservoir close to Pennsburg in Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Green Lake Reservoir
  • Distance from Allentown: 24 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics

Twenty-four miles south of central Allentown, Green Lake Reservoir covers 814 surface acres. 

Planned by the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company in 1929, this reservoir formed by Perkiomen Creek finally took shape in 1957 to create an impoundment for a reliable drinking water supply. 

The water company permitted public fishing access during the 1960s. 

A 1983 agreement with Montgomery County allowed for the creation of Green Lane Park as the county’s largest park, an area that is nearly 3,400 acres in size. 

This park had its origins as Upper Perkiomen Valley Park, a smaller tract of land opened to the public in 1939, 18 years before the reservoir’s creation. 

A popular place for birding, boating, camping, picnicking, and playing disc golf, this park is also enhanced by the activities of the Friends of Green Lane Park

Those who fish within the Green Lane Reservoir will find largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, white and yellow perch, carp, crappie, and bluegill.

10. Deep Creek Lake

  • Website: Deep Creek Lake
  • Distance from Allentown: 26 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics

Deep Creek Lake and nearby Knight Lake are located less than 2,000 feet south of Green Lane Reservoir. 

The water from Deep Creek Lake and Green Lane Reservoir enters Knight Lake, before continuing its journey into Perkiomen Creek until it merges into the Schuylkill River near Audubon. 

The meadows, wetlands, and forested uplands near these bodies of water are also part of Green Lane Park

Fishing within these reservoirs is an activity that is popular for those who visit the park. 

Knight Lake has abundant populations of carp, bluegill, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and yellow perch. 

In addition to a great number of trout, those who fish in Deep Creek Lake will find bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. 

11. Peace Valley Reservoir

This is Lake Galena at Peace Valley Park in PA. There is a sailboat on the lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Peace Valley Reservoir
  • Distance from Allentown: 33 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Peace Valley Reservoir is a little more than 30 miles southeast of downtown. 

Also known as Lake Galena, this 356-acre impoundment was created in 1973 to reduce flood risk. 

A smaller body of water once existed in this area next to the site of a long-abandoned village named New Galena. 

Crews impounded the North Branch of Neshaminy Creek to flood the area. When the reservoir filled the basin in 1974, this former settlement of New Galena was submerged. 

Peace Valley Park surrounds Lake Galena. This 1,500-acre property includes about 15 miles of nature trails, the Peace Valley Nature Center, a playground, and an area to launch watercraft into the reservoir. 

Visitors who fish in Peace Valley Reservoir will find largemouth bass, white and black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, white perch, and pumpkinseed sunfish. 

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