Boating Guide for a Day Trip on Summersville Lake

Written by Adventure Explorer: Ralph Zoontjens

Among the undulating hills of the Appalachians lies a gem of the eastern United States: Summersville Lake. Dubbed the “Bahamas of the East” for its crystal clear waters, the lake is a must-visit for water warriors of all kinds.

It offers jet skiing, scuba diving, paddle boarding, rock climbing, kayaking and rafting.

But if you want an unforgettable day with the whole family, a boating trip is your best bet. So dust off that sunscreen and get ready for a mini-cruise along West Virginia’s biggest lake!

What to Expect

Few natural areas can match the allure of Summersville Lake, and the fact that it’s a man-made reservoir makes it even more impressive. It’s contained by one of the world’s largest rockfill dams, making for a majestic 2,800-acre body of water with a maximum depth of 327 feet.

The scenic views of the sandstone cliffs that extend up to 100 feet below the surface are unparalleled, as is the New River Gorge Bridge that stands tall in the nearby New River Gorge National Park & Preserve.

Given that Summersville Lake is outlined by over 60 miles of meandering shoreline, it’s impossible to see the whole thing in a day. But with a boat, you can experience a lot of what this area has to offer.

Boat Rentals

Several places around the lake offer boat rentals:

People usually rent pontoon boats, which are rectangular vessels with interior space for up to 13 passengers. These are perfect for family getaways and outdoor team-building trips.

Sarge’s Dive Shop offers evening tours with dinner for up to 34 participants. You may find them willing to run a cruise outside of their advertised hours if there are enough customers.

The Marina has an additional fleet of Triumph boats, which are outboard motor boats for crews of up to four people with a lower speed and better fuel efficiency than the other boats.

These are perfect for anglers who want to take on one of the popular fish species in the lake, such as:

  • Large and smallmouth bass
  • Bluegill sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Catfish
  • Panfish
  • Rainbow trout (spring and fall)

Swimming Spots

Soak up as much of the lake experience as possible, and don’t forget to bring your swimsuit! When you see the mirror-like waters, you’ll inevitably feel the urge to dive in and swim along the cliffs, coves and waterfalls. Summer water temperatures are perfectly pleasant, between 68-80 degrees.

Popular spots to explore include Battle Run Beach, Pirates Cove and the famous 60-foot cliffs at Long Point.


Adventure Explorer: Ralph Zoontjens

Ralph Zoontjens is a product designer with a master’s degree in Industrial Design from Eindhoven University of Technology and a love of the outdoors. Currently based out of Tilburg, the Netherlands, he specializes in 3D printing and works as a content writer with topics that revolve around design, technology, and outdoor adventure.

This post was last updated on September 6, 2022