7 Best Ways to Enjoy a Day at North Bend Lake

 West Virginia Hughes River.
West Virginia Hughes River. John McTarnaghan
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The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.

If you’re looking for something to do outside this summer, head straight to West Virginia’s North Bend Lake.

While the 305-acre lake is the main attraction, there’s also plenty of camping and hiking in the hills and flatlands around the water. Whether you want to cast a line or go for a paddle, North Bend Lake is the place to go.

Here is our list of eight activities to make the most of your day at North Bend:

The North Bend Rail Trail travels through wilderness and rural communities.
The North Bend Rail Trail travels through wilderness and rural communities. Mike

1. Hike the lake’s surrounding trails

One of the best things about North Bend Lake is the views. And believe it or not, sometimes the water looks even better from a distance. Hit the North Bend Rail Trail, 72 miles of hiking paradise, stretching all the way from Parkersburg, WV, to Wolf Summit.

Hike or bike the North Bend Rail Trail.
Hike or bike the North Bend Rail Trail. Mike

Watch the scenery shift from lake views to farmland to forested parks as it passes through 10 different tunnels that trains zipped through decades ago.

The North Bend Rail Trail is 72 miles long, and is part of the American Discovery Trail.
The North Bend Rail Trail is 72 miles long, and is part of the American Discovery Trail. Mike

2. Hop on your mountain bike

Those 72 miles of green trails aren’t just for hiking. The rail trail is multi-use, meaning it’s also open to mountain bikers. Don’t have wheels of your own? No problem! Just rent a bike from the River Run Campground Check-in Station during any of the summer months.

Pro tip: Wear orange if you’re riding during hunting season so others can easily see you.

3. Paddle North Bend Lake

The 8 river miles that make up the lake are perfect for paddling. A canoe-specific launch makes it easy to pop your boat into the water, and any level kayaker can enjoy the calm Hughes River. Just steer clear of the tree trunks that rise out of the water.

The 305-acre North Bend State Park Lake offers a variety of activities in and around the water.
The 305-acre North Bend State Park Lake offers a variety of activities in and around the water. Mike

4. Head out on your jon boat

Feel the wind in your hair as you glide over the calm, waveless water in your jon boat. It’s like North Bend Lake was made for its flat, low nose. Plus, you’ll be able to reach some of the more shallow edges of North Bend, where larger boats may get stuck. Motors up to 9.9 horse power are allowed at the park.

5. Fish for bass

You haven’t really gone fishing in West Virginia until you’ve cast a line at North Bend. It’s home to many types of fish, including bass, muskies, catfish, and crappie, so you’re sure to reel in plenty on these waters. The lake reaches a depth of 36 feet in the center and is a warm-water fishery.

But if you’re trying to catch dinner, head up the river, because the lake is catch-and-release for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. In terms of bait, you can use live minnows. The best part? North Bend Lake is open for night fishing. Just be sure you have a current fishing license on hand.

6. Go pontooning

Is there anything more relaxing than cruising around on a pontoon on a warm, sunny day? The section of the Hughes River that makes up North Bend Lake has incredibly calm waters that are ideal for pontooning. Launch your boat from the area’s motor boat ramp, and get ready for a perfect day on the lake. If you don't own a boat, you can rent one, or try a kayak, canoe, paddleboat or jon boats.

The North Bend Rail Trail passes through 13 tunnels, so bring a headlamp!
The North Bend Rail Trail passes through 13 tunnels, so bring a headlamp! Mike

7. Go horseback riding

Horses are also allowed on the North Bend Rail Trail (but motorized vehicles are not, so you won’t have to worry about your horse spooking). The long distance of the trail and campsites along the way also make this a fun option if you’d like to stay at North Bend longer than only 1 day. You could spend a day at the lake and then hop on your horse for a riding camping trip. Yee-haw!

Discover North Bend Lake.

Originally written for West Virginia .

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