11 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Scranton, PA

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Like many places in Pennsylvania, Scranton is rich in natural lakes and reservoirs. However, not many offer easy access or public facilities. 

The list below includes some of the best and nearest recreational lakes which can be enjoyed by everyone. Swimming, fishing, camping, kayaking, and waterskiing, are all possible here.

And the best thing is, you don’t have to drive far as all options are within 40 minutes drive from the city.

Check out what Scranton has to offer!

Lakes near Scranton:

  1. Lake Scranton
  2. Lackawanna Lake
  3. Griffin Reservoir
  4. Prompton Lake
  5. Lake Wallenpaupack
  6. Promised Land Lake
  7. Frances Slocum Lake
  8. Tobyhanna Lake
  9. Elmhurst Reservoir
  10. Gouldsboro Lake
  11. Lake Henry
Lakes near Scranton Pennsylvania Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Scranton

Lake Scranton Pennsylvania
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Lake Scranton
  • Distance from Scranton: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Picnics, Hiking, Running

Lake Scranton was designed by William Walker Scranton in 1898 after crews impounded Stafford Meadow Brook. 

Once known as Burned Bridge Reservoir, this 213-acre lake is currently maintained by the Pennsylvania-American Water Company as a drinking water source for the city. 

Visitors may enjoy a 3.5-mile path that surrounds this reservoir and offers scenic views of the area. 

Other activities are limited due to the use of the water within this reservoir for public consumption. No boating, fishing, or human contact with the water is allowed. Yet, it’s a popular spot for walking and running and is one of the nearest lakes.

2. Lackawanna Lake

Lackawanna Lake Canoeing
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Lackawanna Lake 
  • Distance from Scranton: 13 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping, Biking

Located 13 miles north of downtown, Lackawanna Lake is the focal point of Lackawanna State Park, a popular 1,445-acre park in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

In addition to the 198-acre lake, this year-round recreation destination has 18 miles of trails, including 15 available for mountain biking, a camping area near the lake with forested sites, and a seasonal swimming pool. 

Crews built a dam along the South Branch of Tunkhannock Creek in 1968, forming the 2.5-mile-long lake in the early 1970s. 

Since the park’s opening in 1972, the lake’s 7.5 miles of shoreline have attracted canoes, rowboats, sailboats, and other watercraft. 

Boats with electric motors are allowed in the lake. Wintertime activities include ice skating and ice fishing.

Whether from the shoreline or a watercraft, fishing remains a top reason for people to spend time on Lackawanna Lake. 

Fish found within the warm and cold waters of the lake include largemouth bass, trout, bullhead, pickerel, channel catfish, and muskellunge.

3. Griffin Reservoir

  • Website: Griffin Reservoir
  • Distance from Scranton: 8 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics

Between Scranton and Lackawanna Lake, the 110-acre Griffin Reservoir came into existence as workers impounded Leggetts Creek in the 1880s to create a water source in the area. 

The Griffin Dam on the reservoir’s southern end and the land surrounding this body of water are managed by the Pennsylvania-American Water Company, a public utility. 

For most of its existence, access to the reservoir has been restricted. Public fishing along specifically-defined areas of Griffin Reservoir’s shoreline has been allowed since 2011. 

Boats and other water recreation activities that involve human contact with the water are not permitted since this reservoir serves as a source of water available to the utility for its customers. 

A wide variety of fish species occupy this reservoir. These include largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, pickerel, and brown bullhead. 

4. Prompton Lake

Lake in Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Prompton Lake
  • Distance from Scranton: 30 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

A drive 30 miles northeast of Scranton, Prompton Lake State Park offers recreational access to the 290-acre Prompton Lake. 

The state developed the park in 1962 after the US Army Corps of Engineers designed a dam along the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River. 

With 26 miles of trails, a boat launch, and areas for picnicking, this quiet state park is a great place to visit throughout the year. 

In addition to the lakeside activities, one of the most popular diversions at Prompton Lake is the free disc golf course. Elevation changes with the slightly hilly terrain give the experience a much different feel than courses that sit along flatlands. Both a regular and advanced basket are available on each hole to increase the game’s competitive nature.

Fishing occurs throughout the year. Sledding and skiing are also common winter activities. Fish found in this lake include crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. 

5. Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack in Pennsylvania
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Lake Wallenpaupack
  • Distance from Scranton: 34 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A drive 34 miles east of the city affords an opportunity to visit Lake Wallenpaupack, one of the largest artificial lakes in the state. 

At 5,700 acres, this lake has 52 miles of shoreline. After a hydroelectric dam built in 1927 impounded Wallenpaupack Creek, the water rose in a 13-mile stretch of the valley, submerging the former settlement of Wilsonville. A cemetery had to be moved, and some foundations of the houses that once existed are still under the lake. 

The lake features multiple recreation areas, as well as walking trails, forest lands, boat slips, and nearby campsites. 

The Palmyra Township Public Beach offers a swimming area along the north shore of the lake. This popular place in the Pocono Mountains has a number of commercial establishments near or along the waterfront. These include locations that rent boats and water skis. 

Anglers will enjoy casting lines for fish at many locations around the lake. Small and largemouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch, brown and rainbow trout, walleye, pickerel, and bluegill frequent these waters. 

6. Promised Land Lake

Promised Land state park and lake nightsky
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Promised Land Lake
  • Distance from Scranton: 33 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping, Biking

A little more than 30 miles east of Scranton and less than 7 miles south of Lake Wallenpaupack, Promised Land Lake is the centerpiece of the Promised Land State Park

This 3,000-acre park sits along the Pocono Plateau, near the Delaware State Forest and many recreation sites. 

The larger 422-acre Promised Land Lake is connected by a narrow canal running westward into the smaller 173-acre Lower Lake. The two lakes have a combined thirteen miles of shoreline. 

Trails provide access to forests with oak, maple, hemlock, and beech trees. Black bears have been spotted in the park and along the nearly 50 miles of trails that also cross into the Delaware State Forest. 

Camping, rustic cabins, two pleasant beaches with seasonal swimming areas, and plenty of natural diversions offer something for every visitor. 

With five boat launching areas, boating is a popular pastime at Promised Land Lake. Mooring spaces are also available for rental during the summer. 

While brook, brown, and rainbow trout are popular in Lower Lake, Promised Land Lake also has bass, muskellunge, sunfish, yellow perch, and catfish. 

7. Frances Slocum Lake

Lake in Pennsylvania during fall
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Frances Slocum Lake
  • Distance from Scranton: 20 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping, Biking

A drive of approximately 20 miles west of Scranton brings visitors to the horseshoe-shaped lake at Frances Slocum State Park

This 165-acre lake in the 1,035-acre park is a popular fishing destination in Luzerne County. The park has nearly 14 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails, an environmental education center, and a seasonally-available swimming pool and campground. 

Wildlife is abundant in this park. Those who enjoy birdwatching come here to see many different species, especially during the fall and spring migration periods. The playground area is a popular gathering place for families, one that consistently gets high marks. 

Boats with electric motors are permitted on this lake. Those who fish can expect to see crappie, bluegill, catfish, perch, trout, walleye, muskellunge, pickerel, and bass in the lake’s waters. 

8. Tobyhanna Lake

Tobyhanna Lake State Park and Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Tobyhanna Lake
  • Distance from Scranton: 27 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping, Biking

Located 27 miles southeast of Scranton, Tobyhanna Lake is accessible year-round within the extensive, 5,440-acre Tobyhanna State Park. This land is a mix of swampy flatlands with hardwood forests and low hills. 

During the wintertime in the early 1900s, the ice industry operated at this lake, with workers cutting frozen top sections of ice for use in railroad boxcars as an early form of refrigeration for produce and meats. For over 30 years until 1949, much of the park served as a military training site. 

Today, tranquility has replaced artillery practice. The peaceful trees, abundant wildlife, and pleasant surroundings in this park, open throughout the year, have created a space where people flock to camp, hike, bike, swim, picnic, hunt, fish, boat, snowmobile, ice skate, and ice fish. 

The 170-acre Tobyhanna Lake is at the center of many of these activities, along with 10 miles of well-traveled trails. 

When not enjoying some of the park’s rugged terrain, those who come here to fish will find seasonal overnight mooring spots and plenty of fish in the water. Top catches include bass, yellow perch, pickerel, sunfish, catfish, brook trout, and brown trout. 

9. Elmhurst Reservoir

Reservoir in Pennsylvania during summertime
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Elmhurst Reservoir
  • Distance from Scranton: 11 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Picnics, Hiking

Elmhurst Reservoir is accessible after taking a ten-mile drive southeast of Scranton. This 180-acre reservoir shares a history similar to Griffin Reservoir. 

Sometimes known as the Roaring Brook Reservoir, this impoundment took place after workers constructed a dam in the late 1880s to create a drinking source from the Roaring Brook River. Owned by the Pennsylvania-American Water Company, a public utility, access was denied until 2011. 

The utility began to offer limited fishing from a designated area to allow residents to take advantage of the prodigious fish populations that call Elmhurst Reservoir home. 

No boats, wading, ice fishing, or direct human contact with the water are permitted. Fishing must take place in specifically-designated areas to ensure the quality of the water does not get compromised. 

The North Pocono Trails Association supports many nearby recreation trails. 

Those who choose to visit Elmhurst Reservoir during the warm-weather months to fish will not be disappointed. While casting lines in this body of water, there is a good chance of catching pumpkinseed, yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, brown and yellow bullhead, golden shiner, white sucker, pickerel, rock bass, largemouth bass, or smallmouth bass. 

10. Gouldsboro Lake

Gouldsboro Lake in Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Gouldsboro Lake
  • Distance from Scranton: 18 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping, Biking

Approximately 18 miles southeast of the city center, the 250-acre Gouldsboro Lake sits within Gouldsboro State Park

Before this park opened in 1958, the area shared a similar history with Tobyhanna State Park, just a few miles southeast of Gouldsboro. From the early 1900s until 1936, workers cut ice from the lake for use to refrigerate boxcars. 

The name Gouldsboro, shared by the lake, park, and a small village near the lake’s northern end, honors Jay Gould, a New Yorker who owned ten percent of American railroad tracks by the early 1890s. 

The park’s 7.25 miles of trails include rugged, challenging terrain. Five miles of mountain biking trails, along with wintertime cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing are popular. 

Common fish caught year-round from Gouldsboro Lake include bass, pickerel, crappie, yellow perch, catfish, sunfish, and walleye. 

11. Lake Henry

  • Website: Lake Henry
  • Distance from Scranton: 19 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Lake Henry is 19 miles east of Scranton. The 310-acre lake sits in a valley flooded after Henry Silkman, a Scranton resident and civil engineer, created a dam, named the lake after himself, and used the site to harvest ice in the 1800s. 

While the lake waters are public, the surrounding lands are in private ownership. Access to the lake may be difficult unless one has connections or stays at a private RV park on the lake’s western side. 

Once known as the site of record-setting catfish, today, the lake is mostly occupied by fishing boats and pontoons on the southern end and tubers and smaller watercraft on the northern end. 

Anglers who do visit the lake are expected to observe catch-and-release practices for all bass. 

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