Wild Logo v4

11 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh has an excellent selection of lakes, most of which are less than an hour away. Some options are parts of quiet parks and reserves, while others are full-on recreational reservoirs with boating and camping.
ItIsWild.com Best Lakes near Pittsburgh PA

The selection of lakes near Pittsburgh is diverse. You can visit small and tranquil lakes that are free from crowds or choose full-on recreational reservoirs with activities such as waterskiing, tubing, and camping.

Most of the lakes have beaches for cooling off in summer, and many offer ice fishing and ice skating in winter, so these are great year-round options.

All but one lake on the list (Yellow Creek Lake) are less than an hour’s drive away, giving you plenty of options for day and half-day trips.

Check out what Pittsburgh has to offer!

Lakes near Pittsburgh:

  1. Lake Arthur
  2. Raccoon Lake
  3. North Park Lake
  4. Cross Creek Lake
  5. Peters Lake Park
  6. Twin Lakes
  7. Keystone Lake
  8. Loyalhanna Lake
  9. Crooked Creek Lake
  10. Yellow Creek Lake
  11. Tomlinson Run Lake
Lakes near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Arthur

lake arthur pennsylvania
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Lake Arthur
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 41 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Cabins, Sailing, Windsurfing

Lake Arthur occupies an area where large continental glaciers transformed the terrain during the last Ice Age. 

Located 40 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh, this 3,225-acre lake with 42 miles of shoreline is the top reason many people visit Moraine State Park

The park attracts more than one million visitors annually, something that would have seemed impossible in the 1950s. At that time, no lake existed, only quarries, strip mines, and streams like Muddy Creek filled with poisonous mine drainage.

The lake took shape in this section of Muddy Creek as preservation efforts healed the land. Lake Arthur welcomed visitors when the 16,725-acre state park opened in 1970. 

The year-round park now features lakefront cabins, a geology trail, an annual regatta on the lake, two swimming beaches, and an 18-hole disc golf course. 

Trails for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, and snowmobiling attract crowds. Whether windsurfing during summer or ice boating during winter, Pittsburghers flock to Lake Arthur. 

Many come to fish. Common catches include bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, hybrid striped bass, and channel catfish. 

2. Raccoon Lake

raccoon creek state park
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Raccoon Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 26 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Raccoon Lake took shape after the Civilian Conservation Corps created a federal Recreational Demonstration Area as a prototypical parkland in the 1930s. Crews impounded Traverse Creek, placing a dam on the east side that formed this 101-acre lake. 

The state assumed management of this lake and surrounding land 26 miles west of downtown Pittsburgh in 1945, which became the 7,572-acre Raccoon Creek State Park.

The park has built upon its rustic legacy with a modern campground for overnight stays. Day-use visitors will enjoy 44 miles of hiking trails, a Wildflower Reserve with more than 700 plant species, and a summertime ADA-accessible beach. 

Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and hydrobikes fill the lake during warmer months, while snowmobiles, ice skaters, and cross-country skiers punctuate the frosty landscape during winter. 

Raccoon Lake offers fishing throughout the year, including ice fishing. Species found in the lake include catfish, walleye, muskellunge, bluegill, crappie, sauger, bass, sunfish, and yellow perch. 

3. North Park Lake

lake in pennsylvania with a rowboat
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: North Park Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 13 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Located a little more than ten miles north of downtown, North Park Lake is a popular fishing spot in Allegheny County. Part of the 3,094-acre North Park that was created in 1927 as a recreation area, North Park Lake is an impounded section of the North Fork Pine Creek. 

The shallow marshland was transformed into a 65-acre lake stocked with fish for more than 80 years. A smaller impoundment, Marshall Lake, is a short distance north of North Park Lake along the same creek.

This park offers many amenities, including ballfields, off-leash areas, a boathouse with a restaurant, a nature center, an archery range, an ice hockey rink, and a golf course. 

Trails encircle North Park Lake, the largest lake in the county. A variety of wildlife call North Park home, and the 250-acre Latodami Nature Center covers field, stream, wetland, pond, and forest habitats. 

The lake serves as home to white and black crappie, brown and yellow bullhead, channel catfish, walleye, and tiger muskellunge. 

4. Cross Creek Lake

  • Website: Cross Creek Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 32 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

A little more than 30 miles southwest of downtown, Cross Creek Lake sits in the center of Cross Creek County Park. Opened in 1984, Washington County’s largest park has been a popular destination since fishing on the 244-acre lake began in May 1985. 

By impounding a section of the creek into this reservoir, the county created a place where anglers and flatwater kayakers regularly congregate. Hiking trails, playgrounds, and picnic shelters connect visitors with outdoor recreation. 

Cross Creek Lake has a boat launch and an ADA-accessible fishing pier. Those who prefer to fish in deep, turbid waters head to the area near the dam. 

The lake has a dense population of largemouth bass. Other fish regularly caught include black crappie, bluegill, and saugeye. 

5. Peters Lake Park

Peters Lake Park
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Peters Lake Park
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 16 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

A drive of a little more than 15 miles southwest of downtown brings visitors to Peters Lake Park. The Pennsylvania-American Water Company acquired this site in 1931 to provide drinking water. 

Workers created an earthen dam on the western side of an impoundment that created a 40-acre body of water known locally as Reservoir Number 2. 

Peters Township took ownership of the 189-acre parkland in 1996, opening the land and lake to the public. Visitors should note that the on-site parking area has only a limited number of spaces. The majority of Peters Lake Park exists as a passive recreation area.

With limited facilities, fishing and kayaking remain the two most popular activities. Lakefront trails offer access to most of the reservoir, except for a five-acre section on its eastern side that remains a designated wildlife sanctuary where fishing is prohibited. 

A primitive boat launch allows lake access for unpowered boats. Ice fishing and ice skating occur during winter. Anglers casting lines into Reservoir Number 2 often catch bluegill, black crappie, white crappie, and yellow perch.

6. Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes Park in Pennsylvania
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Twin Lakes Park
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 36 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Twin Lakes Park provides access to two reservoirs at a 467-acre greenspace in Westmoreland County. Located a little more than 35 miles east of Pittsburgh, Twin Lakes Park includes many ADA-accessible and barrier-free facilities. 

Those who visit Twin Lakes praise the location’s cleanliness and excellent condition of the facilities. They enjoy the paved trails around the lakes, a popular place for people to jog, walk their dogs, and sometimes fish. 

Other, less-crowded trails offer scenic views in the woods and occasional wildlife encounters.

Park facilities include an outdoor amphitheater, boathouse, activity center, Vietnam veterans memorial, three fishing decks, and play areas. 

Popular activities include biking, horse riding, geocaching, hunting, sledding, and cross-country skiing. 

Employees of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stock both lakes with fish, including late-season stockings that benefit wintertime anglers who enjoy ice fishing. 

A winter sports area even allows for sledding and tubing runs. Those planning to visit should note that canoes, kayaks, and private boats are not permitted on either the lower or upper lake at this park. 

Known for good harvests of trout, the upper and lower Twin Lakes can be accessed along the shoreline or with a rental boat during the season. 

Other fish available here include bluegill, green sunfish, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, and crappie. 

7. Keystone Lake

Keystone Lake in Keystone State Park in West Moreland County
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Keystone Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 36 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Not to be confused with Keystone Lake northeast of Pittsburgh near Atwood, the 1,200-acre Keystone State Park and its Keystone Lake, located 35 miles east of the city, offer recreation activities throughout the year. 

The original recreation areas and lake owe their existence to the coal industry. In 1909, the Keystone Coal and Coke Company purchased these lands and created a lake to supply a coal-washing facility. 

The company also built a private retreat and a stone lodge near this impounded reservoir. The land came under state ownership in 1945.

Today, the 78-acre Keystone Lake is a great destination for canoes, kayaks, and boats with electric motors. With cabins, a campground, a sandy beach open from late May to Labor Day, and eight miles of trails, this park allows people to enjoy the natural beauty. 

The trail system accommodates snowshoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing during winter months. 

Fishing remains a top reason for people to visit. Commonly caught fish include largemouth bass, tiger muskellunge, yellow perch, catfish, and crappie. 

8. Loyalhanna Lake

  • Website: Loyalhanna Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Loyalhanna Lake was impounded by the US Army Corps of Engineers as a flood control project to manage water along the lower Loyalhanna Creek before it reached the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. 

A dam built along the creek in 1942 in an area a little more than 35 miles east of Pittsburgh has created a reservoir that often grows to 480 acres during the summer months. 

This scenic area with forests, foothills, and wooded hillsides is a perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities. 

Public access areas along the creek and lake provide year-round opportunities for boating, fishing, bird watching, hunting, and other outdoor adventures. 

Canoes often float along the meandering Loyalhanna Creek before reaching the lake. The self-guided Black Willow Water Trail has stations along the water that denote natural and historical features. 

The Bush Recreation Area alongside Loyalhanna Lake is a popular gathering place. Another day-use venue to enjoy a meal is the Dam Site Picnic Area. Multiple trails and a camping area are found here, as well. 

The numerous inlets and coves along Loyalhanna make the lake a highly-regarded fishing destination. Crappie, bullhead, carp, bluegill, bass, and catfish are abundant in these waters. 

9. Crooked Creek Lake

Kayaking in Pennsylvania on 4th of july
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Crooked Creek Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 43 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Similar to Loyalhanna Lake, Crooked Creek Lake is an impoundment created by the US Army Corps of Engineers that also serves recreational purposes today. 

This dam, a drive of approximately 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, went into service in 1940. The structure offers downriver flood control and has created Crooked Creek Lake as a 350-acre reservoir. 

Hiking, camping, swimming, and horseback riding are common activities on this federal land. There is an extensive network of trails along the lake. 

Although ice fishing is not permitted, anglers may fish from boats and along shoreline embankments when the lake is not frozen. White crappie, black crappie, bluegill, and yellow bullhead are found in these waters. 

10. Yellow Creek Lake

yellow creek state park
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Yellow Creek Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 65 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Located 65 miles east of the city, Yellow Creek Lake was formed after an earth and rock dam impounded a section of Yellow Creek in the late 1960s. 

The 720-acre lake and the creek that flows into it are named for the yellow clay on their bottoms and along their banks that sometimes give the creek a distinct color. 

The lands surrounding Yellow Creek Lake are part of Yellow Creek State Park, a 2,981-acre preserve in Indiana County. 

An enjoyable destination for picnicking, as well as for visiting the sandy beach during the summer season that runs from mid-May into September, Yellow Creek is also an important stopover destination for seasonal migrating birds. 

Year-round access provides winter visitors with a place for snowmobiling, ice skating, and cross-country skiing. 

Anglers will appreciate the abundant fish populations in Yellow Creek Lake. Commonly caught fish include smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, yellow perch, walleye, catfish, and bluegill. 

11. Tomlinson Run Lake

Tomlinson Run Lake and State Park West Virginia
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Tomlinson Run Lake
  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 41 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming (pool), Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

A journey to Tomlinson Run Lake provides an opportunity to visit the northernmost West Virginia state park and a location with several ponds for fishing. 

Located a little more than 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, Tomlinson Run State Park occupies the narrow, northernmost portion of West Virginia between Pennsylvania and Ohio, across the Ohio River. 

The 1,398-acre Tomlinson Run State Park includes a wilderness area and developed sites for recreation that sit alongside the Tomlinson Run before this stream reaches the Ohio River. 

The park has cabins, campsites, and yurts available for guests. Geocaching is popular here. The small ponds and lakes at this park have trout, bluegill, bass, and catfish. 

More Lakes in Pennsylvania:

Lake Guides:

You Might Also Like: