Hungry Mother Lake, Virginia, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Hungry Mother Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Hungry Mother Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Hungry Mother Lake

Surrounded by mountain vistas, the 108-acre Hungry Mother Lake is the recreational centerpiece of southwestern Virginia’s 2,180-acre Hungry Mother State Park, in Smyth County near Marion. Its beach attracts swimmers, sunbathers, picnickers, and volleyball players. Its waters attract anglers, kayakers, and others with human- and electric-powered watercraft. Boats can be rented inside the park, or privately launched from a ramp.

Nearly 20 miles of multi-use hiking, walking, and biking trails surround the lake; several trails offer birds-eye lake overlooks. Most trails are identified by the park system as moderate or difficult. Hungry Mother’s flora and fauna are similar to the nearby Appalachian Trail, but Hungry Mother’s trails are wider, smoother, and more uniform.

“Hungry Mother” gets it name from a legend of survival following the Native American destruction of several pioneer settlements on the New River. Molly Marley and her child were taken alive, but later escaped, living on berries until Molly finally collapsed. Her child wandered and found help, but the only words she could say were “hungry mother.” Searchers eventually found Molly dead, at the base of the area’s tallest mountain. That mountain is now Molly’s Knob, and the lake’s name memorializes her.

Hungry Mother Lake was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), from 1933 to 1935. It was built atop the much smaller Lake Forest, a locally-owned social gathering place. Its dam is 600 feet long, 44 feet high, and 250 feet thick at its base. It is managed by Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Fishing is very popular at Hungry Mother Lake. Anglers fish from boats, from the shoreline, or from a universally accessible fishing pier. They stalk trophy muskies, largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, walleyes (best in April, May and June at night), channel catfish, crappies, and sunfish. The channel cats, walleyes, and muskies are stocked.

Wildlife around the lake is typical for rural Virginia, including a few bear and the occasional bald eagle. Open hunting is permitted in season, for deer, bear, turkey, and small game.

Lodging in the park includes well-equipped cabins, yurts, and a “family lodge.” Two campgrounds welcome tents and RVs, with full RV hookups, showers, internet access, and other amenities.

Hungry Mother State Park was one of the six original state parks in Virginia. All six were dedicated on the same day in 1937, and Hungry Mother was chosen as the main site for the statewide Dedication Day celebration. 5,000 attended.

Hungry Mother Lake is easily accessed, just a few miles off I-81. Groceries, camping supplies, restaurants, and other conveniences are just minutes away in Marion. The lake and surrounding park offer a quiet, friendly, mountain vacation spot to enjoy for a weekend or a week. Activities abound for singles, couples, or the entire family.

Things to Do at Hungry Mother Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish Species Found at Hungry Mother Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Hungry Mother Lake

If you’re considering a Hungry Mother Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Hungry Mother Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Hungry Mother Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Hungry Mother Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Surface Area: 108 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,178 feet

Average Depth: 16 feet

Maximum Depth: 32 feet

Water Volume: 1,728 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1935

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Hungry Mother Lake Gifts

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Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

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Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


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