Lake Arthur, Pennsylvania, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh & Countryside -

In the warm summer breeze, sailboats dart like flocks of colorful birds across Lake Arthur’s clear Pennsylvania waters. Located in Butler County, this picturesque lake is surrounded by Moraine State Park and offers 3,225 acres of water to fish, boat, and explore. With its gently rolling hills, abundant wildlife, and fantastic fishing, Lake Arthur is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. Just forty years ago, the land that makes up the Moraine State Park was covered with abandoned strip mines and oil and gas wells. In the late 1800’s the area was drilled extensively for oil and natural gas wells, and deep coal mines and strip mines radically changed the profile of the land. The Western Allegheny Railroad was built to transport the materials to Pittsburgh. The railroad ran the entire length of the Muddy Creek Valley, and parts of the railroad grade are still visible in the Muddy Creek finger of Lake Arthur and to the west of the dam. It was abandoned in 1939.

Long before the strip mines, the Moraine State Park sat at the edge of four continental glaciers, some over a mile thick. The soil, rocks and debris left at the edge of glaciers is called moraine, a description that graciously gives the state park its name. Englishman Frank W. Preston moved to the area in 1926 to start a glass research lab. Preston was an amateur geologist and naturalist, and on a trip to the Muddy Creek Valley he recognized the glacial attributes of the area. He spent the next several decades studying the area and even named some of the land forms after famous Pittsburgh attorney and naturalist Edmund Watts Arthur. Preston was instrumental in forming the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which purchased the land that became the Moraine State Park. The Conservancy worked in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Forest and Waters and the Department of Mines and Mineral Industries to restore the land. They filled and graded the strip mines, sealed the deep mines and plugged 422 gas and oil wells. They also planted thousands of trees, shrubs, and grasses and dammed Muddy Creek to form Lake Arthur.

The dam was completed in November 1968 and by 1970, Lake Arthur had filled completely. On May 23, 1970 the Moraine State Park was dedicated. The 16,725-acre state park’s long history of conservation is being continued by the Moraine Preservation Fund. Started to reintroduce wildlife, the Fund has successfully reintroduced the osprey to Lake Arthur. The first successful breeding pair raised three chicks in 1996. Today the fund is working on reintroducing the barn owl. They also operate a gift shop called the Owlet and a nature center. The Nautical Nature, a 45-passenger enclosed pontoon boat, is based at the nature center and gives tours of Lake Arthur to explain the lake’s development and show off the wildlife.

The wildlife around Lake Arthur is plentiful. Great blue herons, green herons, bald eagles and belted kingfishers all make their homes at the lake, and migrating loons use Lake Arthur as a resting place. Almost 13,600 acres of the state park is open to hunting and trapping, and there are waterfowl, deer, turkeys, grouse, bears, rabbits, pheasants, and squirrels. Hunters also use the area to train dogs.

Lake Arthur boasts 42 miles of shoreline and several tributary arms. It is a fantastic warm-water fishery and one of the most productive muskie fisheries in the state. The fertile water and abundant forage means the fish grow long and heavy. Efforts are being made to turn Lake Arthur into a trophy muskie lake. There are also healthy populations of northern pike, large mouth bass, black crappie, and bluegill. The Pennsylvania Department of Fish and Game stocks the lake with muskie, walleye, channel catfish, and hybrid striped bass.

There are plenty of boat launches and several marinas on Lake Arthur. Visitors can rent sailboats, motorboats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and pontoon boats. The lake is perhaps best known for sailing and windsurfing. The annual Regatta at Lake Arthur has been run since 1998. The two-day event is the largest regatta in western Pennsylvania and includes the sailboat race, canoe and kayak races, crafts, food, and hot air balloon rides.

Lake Arthur has swimming beaches on both its north and south shores. There are bike rentals and paved bike trails in the state park, and there almost thirty miles of trails for hiking along the shore and through the forest. There are also trails for horseback riding and an 18-hole disc golf course. Winter sports include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, ice fishing, ice boating, and ice skating.

Accommodations around Lake Arthur are limited to cabin rentals, but there are several vacation rentals and private campgrounds nearby. Lake Arthur is snuggled into the Pittsburgh & Countryside region, just 50 miles north of Pittsburgh, so visitors to the lake are within an easy drive of any amenity they could wish for, including restaurants, shopping, and museums. Lake Arthur is a four-season recreation destination and a conservation triumph.

Things to do at Lake Arthur

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Arthur

  • Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Lake Arthur Photo Gallery

Lake Arthur Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 3,225 acres

Shoreline Length: 42 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,190 feet

Average Depth: 11 feet

Maximum Depth: 36 feet

Water Volume: 37,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1970

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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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