Cheat Lake, West Virginia, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - West Virginia - Mountaineer Country -

Also known as:  Lake Lynn

A dam built across the Cheat River in 1925 created the scenic reservoir of Cheat Lake. Originally called Lake Lynn, the dam sits nearly at the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Located in West Virginia’s Mountaineer Country region, the reservoir meanders amid scenic green mountains and beneath canyon walls. Built for hydroelectric power generation, Lake Lynn was renamed Cheat Lake in 1976, but the power generation project still retains the Lake Lynn designation. Located only about ten miles east of Morgantown, WV, Cheat Lake is gaining in popularity both as a recreational resource and as a bedroom community. A number of large homes enjoy secluded views from the cliffs overlooking the lake.

As a colonial surveyor, George Washington envisioned using the Cheat River as a transportation system. It wasn’t until 1910 that work began on the Lake Lynn Dam, and obstacles created by World War I delayed the project until 1925. The Lake Lynn Project was dedicated in 1927 with the placement of a bronze plaque proclaiming the lake and power generation as dedicated to the public ‘in lasting beauty for recreation and the supplying of essential service’. At one time, cottages could be rented by employees of the long-defunct railway that ran along the eastern bank of the lake. Now, the lake boasts three marinas, a golf and spa resort, a number of trails and one at-your-own-risk swimming beach at Cheat Lake Park. The community of Cheat Lake along the eastern shoreline offers food, supplies and services to residents and visitors.

Much of the main part of the lake is popular with pleasure boaters and water sports enthusiasts: water skiing, tubing, windsurfing and wakeboarding. Several quiet backwater embayments are particularly popular with those who enjoy canoes, kayaks and pontoon boats. Little Cheat Lake Park along the eastern shoreline is well-positioned for those who enjoy quiet waters and a wealth of wildlife. Located in a no-wake portion of the lake, the 4.5-mile Cheat Lake Trail bisects the park with an unpaved trail along the old former railway and its causeways across two embayments. A playground, rest rooms, and the swim beach separate several somewhat secluded picnic areas with picnic tables and grills. The name, Mill Stone Beach, derives from old millstones scattered around the area, remnants of old grist mills once common along the river. The parking area on Morgan’s Run Road is a distance from the lakefront, so some walking is required. A driveway down to the lake allows for handicapped access, but the parking isn’t very close to the shoreline. Currently, no camping is available.

Fishing is a favored sport at Cheat Lake. In years past, acid mine runoff killed fish and endangered water quality. Several years of concentrated efforts by such groups as Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association (CLEAR) and the Cheat Lake Advisory Council have monitored water quality and worked to improve recreational opportunities at the reservoir. They have succeeded to the point that Cheat Lake is one of the better lakes in the region for largemouth bass fishing and the location of regular bass tournaments. Channel catfish, crappies, sunfish and walleye round out the angling selection. A fishing dock at Cheat Lake Park allows even the littlest anglers to try their luck. A boat ramp lets visitors launch small hand-carried boats. Larger craft will need to use the commercial marinas where they will find boat gas, boat rentals, snacks, supplies, restaurant, fishing equipment and rental slips available.

The area near Cheat Lake is a trail-lover’s dream. The Cheat Lake Trail intersects the Cheat Haven Trail. Plans are in the works to expand the trail into Pennsylvania to connect with the Mon River trail that becomes the Caperton Trail along the riverfront in Morgantown. Just upstream (south) from Cheat Lake, Cooper’s Rock State Forest holds over 20 trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing. Many of the trails skirt the bluffs of Cheat River Gorge and offer excellent overlooks among the trees. In June, the trails are ablaze with azalea and rhododendron. Deer, fox, owls, songbirds, squirrels and other forest denizens can often be seen. Coopers Rock State Forest offers the closest campground to Cheat Lake, a 25-site campground with electricity, hot showers, water and even wifi to registered campers. Several small streams cross the state forest, and a small six-acre impoundment is stocked with trout for fishing. Farther upstream, some of the East Coast’s best whitewater rafting can be found in the Cheat River Gorge.

Cheat Lake has been under the management of several hydroelectric companies, beginning with Allegheny Energy, First Energy and most recently Harbor Hydro Holdings LLC. Rapidly multiplying environmental restrictions have caused many smaller hydroelectric projects to close in recent years, and the Lake Lynn Power Station is not large. However, Harbor Hydro recently invested in several improvements at the dam to solve a years-old problem of debris clogging the dam outflows and causing flooding. Apparently Harbor Holdings has every intention to keep Lake Lynn Power Station in operation for the foreseeable future.

Lodgings in the area are provided by the golf resort, campgrounds and RV resorts nearby, and a few private home rentals. The entire area along the river is a popular vacation destination, so there are guest cottages and campgrounds not far away. Morgantown, home of West Virginia University, is located only ten miles west. The city provides hotels, guest cottages and bed & breakfasts, along with multiple restaurants, entertainment venues and shopping. If your idea of an ideal vacation includes water sports, fishing, great scenic vistas and quiet wooded trails, then Cheat Lake is the perfect spot to spend your time. Toss the kayak on the rood-top carrier, pack the tent or RV, and head over to Cheat Lake to enjoy a scenic vacations in the West Virginia mountains.

Things to do at Cheat Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Forest
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Cheat Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Cheat Lake Photo Gallery

Cheat Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Harbor Hydro Holdings LLC

Surface Area: 1,730 acres

Shoreline Length: 30 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 868 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 857 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 870 feet

Water Volume: 72,300 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1925

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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