Babcock State Park, one of West Virginia’s oldest state parks, has more than 4,000 acres of rugged terrain, and the 19-acre man-made Boley Lake, which has calm, predictable waters surrounded by red maple, oak, and hickory trees. Glade Creek also runs through the park all the way to the New River, and has challenging, steep falls for expert kayakers.
What Makes It Great
Boley Lake is a wonderful place for beginners or families to just relax and paddle around its 19 acres, surrounded by trees that are especially colorful in the fall. You can rent a paddleboat, canoe, or rowboat at the marina, and just float the day away. If you have a lot more experience and want a challenge, the 5.5-mile Glade Creek runs from the park to the New River.
Besides paddling, the park has several other outdoor activities. Fishing is great on Boley Lake, and boaters love spending the day in the middle of the lake, stocking up on largemouth bass, bluegill, and trout (You will need a WV fishing license). There are also picnic areas and a seasonal swimming pool. With more than 20 miles of trails at the park, you can easily spend part of your day hiking around, and part of your day paddling around the lake.
Babcock State Park is also rich in history, and is well-known for its fully operable grist mill overlooking Glade Creek. The grist mill, built in 1976 (by combining parts of 3 different mills from across the state), is modeled after the park’s original mill, which stood in the same spot many years ago. Today, if stream conditions are right, you can buy cornmeal ground right on site.
Wildlife is also abundant in the state park. You will likely see a fox, and maybe some other little critters, too!
Who is Going to Love It
Families, beginners, and leisurely paddlers love Boley Lake. Because water levels are predictable and the water is calm, it makes for a cozy day, whether it’s spent paddling, fishing, or photographing the plants and wildlife.
Glade Creek, though, is for expert paddlers only. The run is steep and has drop after drop with several waterfalls, including one close to the beginning that can drop 10-12 feet.
Some folks come just to visit the grist mill, too. While many mills have been restored, not many are fully functional, so you can enjoy an experience that was (almost) lost in time.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Babcock State Park is easily accessible just off U.S. Route 19 in Fayette County in central West Virginia. Once you enter the park, there is plenty of parking and the lake is easy to find. The entrance to Glade Creek is near the grist mill, and is also clearly marked. The creek is only recommended for expert kayakers.
The park rents boats and canoes from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are no fees for using the lake or creek.