Spruce Knob Lake, West Virginia, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - West Virginia - Potomac Highlands -

Spruce Knob Lake, in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands, proves that good things come in small packages. Only 23 acres, the little reservoir was created especially for recreation when a dam was built across Narrow Ridge Creek in 1952. Tucked into Monongahela National Forest’s nearly 81,000 acres, Spruce Knob Lake is the highest elevation lake in the state. The lake is very near Spruce Knob, the state’s highest point and a popular look-out for visitors to the region. What Spruce Knob Lake lacks in size it more than makes up for in scenic beauty and great trout fishing.

Surrounded by hills covered in a mix of evergreens and hardwood trees, Spruce Knob Lake offers a welcome touch of serenity to those who visit. The silence is broken only by the calls of the many birds and the occasional shouts of excited children as they hook a tiny bluegill from the fishing dock. Only electric motors are allowed for boats, and the waters are ideal for canoes and kayaks. No swimming is permitted in the little lake, but most visitors are here for the scenery and the fishing. The lake is managed as a ‘put-and-take’ trout fishery: the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocks catch-able size trout twice each summer. The lake holds mostly rainbow trout, although there are a few other species that may provide a surprise at the end of a line. A state fishing license, a trout stamp, Conservation stamp and a National Forest stamp are all required for fishing. There is a small boat ramp near the dam, along with restrooms and the handicapped-accessible fishing dock.

Spruce Knob Lake isn’t the only thing that draws visitors to this area of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. A Forest Service campground is located a short distance from the shoreline under a canopy of trees. Some of the 30 campsites can be reserved, but a few are always saved as first-come-first served sites. All regular campsites contain a picnic table, tent pad, grill and fire ring. Twelve walk-in campsites are tent-only with the parking lot about 75 feet away. Except for busy holiday weekends, the campground often has unoccupied campsites as it is not directly on the shore of the lake and no swimming access is provided. Campers are warned that foodstuffs must be secured against hungry bears and raccoons. Spruce Knob Lake is a short walk away, where early risers will often find anglers taking advantage of the morning fog to entice a hungry trout.

Immediately below the dam is a swampy area that often overflows with native songbirds. Little Narrow Ridge Creek is hardly more than a trickle, and shorebirds nest along the bubbling shallows. Water flow varies with the seasons, and wildflowers and march sedges proliferate in the spring. The area is a photographer’s dream, and many visitors take their cameras along on every hike in the area. Although this is high-altitude for West Virginia, it is not alpine and there are always plenty of treed areas for cooling shade. One pleasant and relatively easy walk is around the one-mile shoreline of Spruce Knob Lake.

One of the most popular short hikes is to the summit of Spruce Knob. The route overland from Spruce Knob Lake can be rather rocky, but it is possible to drive a vehicle to within a short distance of the observation tower at the top. A stone-and-steel observation tower gives a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Due to strong winds, the red spruce growing on the Knob are deformed and have limbs only on one side. Native huckleberry bushes hug the slope. A half-mile, handicapped-accessible Whispering Spruce Nature Trail has interpretive signage and explains the geology and climate of the region, along with the plants growing here. Another route, the Huckleberry Trail, follows the ridge north along Spruce Mountain and intersects with the main trail system of the Monongahela National Forest’s Seneca Creek sector. A full 60 miles of maintained trails crisscross the area. Trail maps are available from the US Forest Service.

Other special attractions within the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area include the awe-inspiring rock pinnacles of Seneca Rocks. Named for a Native American legend which tells of a princess who demanded her suitors climb the difficult pinnacle to win her hand, the Seneca Rocks are still popular with rock climbers today. Located less than 20 miles north of Spruce Knob Lake, Seneca Rocks even permits instructors to teach rock climbing to novices. Not far from Seneca Rocks, privately-operated Seneca Caverns guides visitors through a spectacular natural cavern where calcite crystal and flowstone provide an awe-inspiring sight. A favorite activity of both young and old is the gemstone mining opportunity offered outside the entrance to Seneca Caverns. For a fee, visitors can purchase a quantity of mining waste which they wash in the provided sluice to possibly discover rose quartz, rubies, amethyst, garnets, ‘fools gold’ and other interesting and decorative gems.

Spruce Knob Lake is rather remote. The nearest store or telephone is about an hour away. Several other campgrounds in the vicinity also offer camping sites, and there are many streams that provide excellent trout fishing. The quiet country roads are perfect for mountain biking. Nature is always nearby and can surprise or even startle at any time. The nearest bigger city is two hours to the east at Harrisonburg, VA on I-81. The city offers a variety of lodgings, with several chain hotels located along the highway. Major northeastern cities can be reached easily with a few hours’ drive. Other state routes through the Highlands hold small motels, guest cottages, and bed & breakfasts. The area is scenic and filled with interesting sights, tiny hamlets, and friendly people. It is in places such as Spruce Knob and Spruce Knob Lake that one comes to truly understand the term, ‘Almost Heaven’.

Things to do at Spruce Knob Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Spruce Knob Lake

  • Bluegill
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Spruce Knob Lake Photo Gallery

Spruce Knob Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 23 acres

Shoreline Length: 1 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,840 feet

Average Depth: 8 feet

Maximum Depth: 20 feet

Completion Year: 1953

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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