Chickahominy Lake, Virginia, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Virginia - Tidewater & Hampton Roads -

Also known as:  Chickahominy Reservoir

A slick brown otter dodges playfully in amongst the clumps of wetland grasses and trees that anchor the Chickahominy River. Gradually, the forest thins as the river swells, giving way to wide open water rimmed with tupelo trees and bald cypress sinking their knees into the fertile water of Chickahominy Lake. The tree-lined shore and fish-filled water call great blue herons, osprey and snowy egrets, who in turn lure anglers, photographers and birdwatchers. The beautiful scenery of Chickahominy Lake in the Tidewater and Hampton Roads area of Virginia has been drawing visitors for almost seventy years, and the majestic Chickahominy River has been drawing people to it for centuries.

Chickahominy Lake was created in 1943 by the construction of Walker Dam. The dam, 22 miles above the mouth of the Chickahominy River, was built by the federal government to provide water for military bases as the country prepared for war. Today, the Chickahominy Reservoir, which sits on the New Kent and Charles City County line, provides the water supply for the Newport News Waterworks. It is also an excellent fishery and a popular recreation spot.

The water lilies, cypress and submerged vegetation provide great fish habitat, and the bluegill, black crappie, and chain pickerel are abundant. There are also bowfin, yellow perch and redear sunfish, and it’s not uncommon for anglers to pull two- to four-pound largemouth bass out of Chickahominy Reservoir. Twin denil fish ladders in Walker Dam allow anadromous fish, like blueback herring and striped bass, to pass from the Chickahominy River and into the lake. The herring spawn in the lake and upriver, and anglers can catch and release the sea run striped bass.

With over 1,200 acres of water to explore, there is plenty of room on Chickahominy Lake for everyone. Access is through one public and two private boat launches. The public launch is at the New Kent Forestry Center on the north bank of Chickahominy Reservoir and is limited to groups with special permission to launch canoes and kayaks. Managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry, the New Kent Forestry Center raises trees to reforest harvested areas. A mile-long public wilderness trail winds through the forest, where visitors find descriptions of the trees and diverse ecosystems.

Chickahominy Lake meanders in a serpentine path nine miles south from Providence Forge to Walker Dam. It is really a pause on the Chickahominy River’s journey to the James River and on to the Chesapeake Bay. Walker Dam is a three-foot high tidal barrier that prevents saltwater from flowing back into the lake. The area below the dam on the Chickahominy River is tidal, and water levels fluctuate according to the tides. In April of 2007 there was a breach in the dam at the manually-operated boat lock and Chickahominy Lake began to fluctuate with the tides. Water levels in the lake have been stabilized, but there are ongoing repairs to the dam and lock.

Chickahominy is the name of the native people that originally inhabited the area around Chickahominy Reservoir. Called “the coarse ground corn people,” they lived in the area hundreds of years before the English settled Jamestown. They were also part of the group that captured Captain John Smith and delivered him to Chief Powhatan. The first national water trail in the United States, Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail was created in honor of the 400th anniversary of Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake and includes part of the Chickahominy River. Part of the river is also a designated State Scenic River, and it is a very popular place to canoe and kayak.

The area around Chickahominy Lake is rich with history and very near the Historic Triangle, which includes Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. Established in 1607, Jamestown was a settlement of the Virginia Company of London. Williamsburg is often called the “birthplace of the nation,” where many of the ideas that became the representative government started. Yorktown was an active international port and the place where General Cornwallis surrendered in a decisive victory in the War of Independence. All three sites have historic displays and interpreters and are a short drive from Chickahominy Lake.

After a long day on the water or exploring the surrounding area, visitors can stay in one of the area’s many waterfront vacation rentals along the Chickahominy River. Private cottages, tent and RV campsites are also available. Real estate is available for sale in several riverfront communities.

Lured by the wildlife, fertile land and beauty, Captain John Smith came to explore the area around Chickahominy Lake 400 years ago. The beautiful Chickahominy River and Chickahominy Lake still call visitors to the area today, as the water flows on its way to the ocean.

Things to do at Chickahominy Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Chickahominy Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Bowfin
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Yellow Perch

Chickahominy Lake Photo Gallery

    Chickahominy Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Newport News Waterworks

    Surface Area: 1,230 acres

    Completion Year: 1943

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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.

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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".

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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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