Charles Fork Lake is a small and quiet stream-fed lake in central West Virginia’s Roane County, just outside of Spencer, WV. The 70-acre lake is filled with fresh mountain water and surrounded by 1,700 acres of city-owned land. All together, the area offers a quiet, family-friendly backcountry escape with hiking trails, campsites, and plenty of history. It also happens to be the home of the Tour de Lake—a very popular mountain biking race, established in 1994.
What Makes It Great
Spencer is one of West Virginia’s most charming little towns, with historic buildings lining the main street. It’s also an outdoor recreation hub in the central Heartland Region, with 21 miles of singletrack hiking and mountain biking trails that zigzag through the surrounding forest, pass by a historic dam installed at the turn of the 20th Century, and even meander by a local winery.
Nestled amongst all of this adventure is Charles Fork Lake. It’s about 1 mile from one end to the other, which makes it the perfect size for a leisurely paddle out and back. Only electric motor boats are allowed. The lake has highly predictable water levels and little current, with an average depth of 27 feet. Besides the peaceful open-lake environment, you can also enjoy exploring the coves scattered along the lake’s edges.
In addition to great paddling, Charles Fork Lake is also well-known for being one of the biggest walleye fisheries in the state. It’s a great spot for you to take your canoe or kayak and fish from your boat in near-solitude quiet, while the occasional bald eagle flies overhead.
Who is Going to Love It
Charles Fork Lake is a perfect entry-level, leisurely paddling experience. There are no obstacles or unexpected challenges. It’s perfect for children, entire families, and leisurely paddlers.
Because there are onsite camping and picnic areas, Charles Fork Lake is a great place for friends and family (and dogs) to plan a cozy weekend of paddling, hiking, picnicking, and camping. If you are looking for a fun day trip, Spencer has several great places to grab lunch or dinner. Locals recommend both Church Street Deli and La Finca.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The lake is off of WV Route 36, about 1 hour from both Charleston and Parkersburg, and 2 hours from Clarksburg. You can access Spencer from I-77 or I-79, via WV Route 33. Once you get to Spencer, Charles Fork Lake is just 2 miles southeast of the city. Follow signs to the lake along WV Route 36. The parking areas are below the dam, and there’s only one parking lot and boat ramp so it’s easy to find.