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9 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Winchester, VA

Although many lakes around Winchester are private, there are also plenty of options with public access. Most are small and tranquil reservoirs where fishing and paddling are the most common activities.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Winchester Virginia

Although many lakes around Winchester are private, there are also plenty of options with public access.

The public lakes on this list are popular fishing and paddling spots, and some offer swimming and camping. Many have access to hiking trails and wildlife areas.

Because most options are small reservoirs used for irrigation and water supply, gas-powered boating is prohibited. 

Lake Anna or Deep Creek Lake in Maryland are the nearest options for water skiing, wakeboarding, and other fast sports.

The local lakes are great for taking a break from the city or cooling off in summer. 

Discover what Winchester has to offer!

Lakes near Winchester:

  1. Lake Frederick
  2. Sherando Lake
  3. Cove Lake
  4. Warden Lake
  5. Sleeter Lake
  6. Rockcliff Lake
  7. Sleepy Creek Lake
  8. Cacapon Lake
  9. Beaverdam Reservoir
Lakes near Winchester Virginia Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Frederick

A lake during Fall in Virginia
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Frederick
  • Distance from Winchester: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Twelve miles south of downtown Winchester, Lake Frederick is an impoundment of Crooked Run. 

This 117-acre lake and a 50-foot buffer around the shoreline were donated to the state in 1981, but questions about developments planned near the then-nameless lake in 1990 threatened public access. 

These issues were resolved, guaranteeing public access to this Frederick County fishing spot. 

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources created a boat launch area on the southern shore of the lake, adjacent to the earthen dam. 

With an average depth of 20 feet, the lake has areas along the upper portions of its two embayments where submerged timber creates a great habitat for fishing. 

Guests may launch either hand-propelled vessels or those with electric trolling motors. 

Anglers who visit Lake Frederick will find a favorite spot to cast a line. The quality of largemouth bass caught in this reservoir is among the best in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Night fishing during the summer offers great yields of bass and other species. These include redear sunfish, black crappie, northern pike, bluegill, and channel catfish.

2. Sherando Lake

Fall on a small fishing pond
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Sherando Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 10 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics, Sports Courts

Sherando Lake is a little less than ten miles south of Winchester. 

Not to be confused with the 25-acre Sherando Lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Lyndhurst, this 4.5-acre fishing lake sits within Sherando Park, a Frederick County Park near Stephens City. 

Many recreational activities take place at the 330-acre Sherando Park. Hiking and biking trails, lighted ball fields, picnic areas, an 18-hole disc golf course, volleyball court, and other activities are popular at this park. 

Casting a line in this small lake offers a great escape for anglers in the area, but boating is prohibited.

3. Cove Lake

  • Website: Cove Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, ATV Trails

A drive of 18 miles west of Winchester, Cove Lake is one of three substantial spring-fed bodies of water at the privately-operated Cove Lake Campground

Sitting upon nearly 3,000 acres varying from one- to three-thousand feet in elevation, The Cove offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities for members of the general public. 

Major activities include camping, ATV and motorbike trail riding along more than 30 miles of marked trails, hiking, and seasonal swimming at a designated beach on Cove Lake.

The three spring-fed lakes each have earthen dams to contain their water flow. Cove Lake, with an approximate surface area of 38 acres, is the primary lake at The Cove. 

Lake Lackzas, 500 feet to the east, is about 16 surface acres in size. Wildlife Lake, the northernmost of these reservoirs, is 11 acres.

The Cove permits guests to bring non-gasoline boats to this location. 

Since visitors to The Cover are on private property, they do not need to possess a Virginia fishing license. 

Anglers who visit The Cove will find the lakes stocked with crappie, bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and yellow perch. 

4. Warden Lake

a man in a yellow kayak paddling on a lake in virginia
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Warden Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 38 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Picnics

A little more than 35 miles west of Winchester, Warden Lake impounds a section of Moores Run in Hardy County, West Virginia. 

An earthen and rockfill dam was designed in 1959 for recreational purposes to create 44-acre Warden Lake. 

Originally known as the Warden Lake Public Hunting & Fishing Area, the Warden Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) surrounds the lake as a 110-acre retreat.

Visitors to Warden Lake WMA can expect to find a quiet and relaxing destination. Camping is prohibited within this day-use area. 

Those who enjoy fishing come here to cast their line for panfish, trout, bass, northern pike, and channel catfish. Stocking of trout usually occurs between February and May. 

The West Virginia record grass carp, a fish weighing 71 lbs. 11.04 oz., was caught here in 2005.

5. Sleeter Lake

a lake in virginia on a cloudy day
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Sleeter Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Picnics

Sleeter Lake is 25 miles east of Winchester. Created as an impoundment along North Fork Goose Creek in 1963, this 101-acre reservoir also has Simpsons Creek as a tributary. 

At the time of its construction, a nearby orchard operation had grown to almost 1,000 acres, and the reservoir was put into operation as an irrigation source. 

Since that time, many suburban communities in Loudoun County have encroached into the area, and the Round Hill Owners Association presently manages this body of water.

After many years, leaders in the Round Lake community decided to develop a recreation area alongside the eastern shore of the park, near the impoundment. 

The first substantial improvements took place in 2017, long after rezoning had set aside park space in 1991. 

Slater Lake Park is open between March and late November as a day-use facility. 

Boats with non-combustible engines may be launched into Sleeter Lake. Swimming and ice skating within the lake are not permitted.

Those who fish in Sleeter Lake will find a variety of fish. These include channel catfish, chain pickerel, bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass. Fly-fishing, spinning, and baitcasting are popular methods of fishing here.

6. Rockcliff Lake

Beach at Rockcliff Lake WV
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Rockcliff Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 47 miles (1 hr)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics

A drive of a little more than 45 miles southwest of the city, Rockcliff Lake and Trout Pond are popular places to visit just over the Virginia-West Virginia state line. 

Located in the Trout Pond Recreation Area of the George Washington National Forest, recreation facilities were developed along these bodies of water in the late 1970s. 

Visitors can enjoy a mountain beach area, biking, cabins and camping, picnicking, swimming, hiking, nature viewing, and fishing. 

Formerly known as Old Pond, Trout Pond is West Virginia’s only natural lake. Originally two or three acres in size, the sinkhole that filled with water from mountain streams to create it has experienced shifts in the limestone cavern that have drained the lake on many occasions. 

Rockcliff Lake is a 17-acre reservoir with boat access and a swimming beach. Also known as “Rock Cliff Lake,” this artificial reservoir is popular for those with canoes and kayaks. 

Anglers may fish in these lakes during a season that spans from early May through October. 

Boats without gasoline motors are permitted for those who fish for channel catfish, trout, and largemouth bass. Due to the instability of Trout Lake, brook trout are no longer introduced on a regular basis. 

7. Sleepy Creek Lake

  • Website: Sleepy Creek Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 32 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, Picnics

Thirty-two miles north of Winchester, Sleepy Creek Lake is located within West Virginia’s Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area

This 205-acre reservoir took shape with the impounding of Meadow Branch in 1962. 

Located in the heart of the nearly 23,000-acre Sleepy Creek WMA, this lake is a destination for those who enjoy the outdoors in the state’s eastern panhandle. 

Located on two parallel mountain ridges, the mature forest in the Sleepy Creek WMA is full of game and nongame wildlife species.

Anglers who visit Sleepy Creek Lake will enjoy a quiet location, far away from the crowds found at lakes with multiple amenities. They can cast a line for largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and northern pike. 

8. Cacapon Lake

Sandy beach, forest, and calm lake waters on sunny day
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Cacapon Lake
  • Distance from Winchester: 27 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Cabins, Picnics, Golfing, Horseback Riding

A little more than 25 miles north-northwest of Winchester, Cacapon Lake is an impoundment created where the North and Middle Forks of Indian Run merge together. 

This small six-acre lake sits within Cacapon Resort State Park, a year-round, 6,000-acre resort in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. 

Guests stay in the renovated lodge or enjoy one of the cabins. Designed by the Civilian Conservation Corps on land where timber was formerly harvested, hiking, biking, and golf games on a Robert Trent Jones course are popular activities.

Bank fishing or casting a line from a rental boat are common here. Species found in Cacapon Lake include catfish, bass, trout, and bluegill.

9. Beaverdam Reservoir

Man enjoying kayaking on the water at Beaverdam Reservoir Park in Loudoun County, Ashburn, Virginia
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Beaverdam Reservoir
  • Distance from Winchester: 44 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Beaverdam Reservoir is 44 miles east of downtown Winchester, less than five miles northwest of Dulles International Airport. 

This impoundment of Beaverdam Creek is owned by Loudoun Water as a source of drinking water. Designed at 300 surface acres, the water level varies due to drawdowns. 

Reservoir Park is a recreation area designed to enhance recreation opportunities in the Beaverdam Reservoir area. Located on the body of water’s southeast side, this park is managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, NOVA Parks. 

Not to be confused with Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir, more than 180 miles south-southeast in Gloucester, this reservoir was transferred from the City of Fairfax to Loudoun County in the early 2010s. 

Anglers will find bluegill, crappie, carp, redear sunfish, and largemouth bass. 

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