Original blogpost was for Adventures on the Gorge and can be found here: http://adventurewestvirginia.com/vacations/the-other-lake/
The Other Lake
For ten years, I lived just outside of New York City. On my visits home, usually within my first twelve hours back in Fayette County, I would find myself exploring Plum Orchard Lake as if it were my first time there. The hustle-bustle of metropolitan life and the cacophony of city-sounds were always sensory-rich but there was something about the gentle sway of the pier, the smell of earth and the sound of the forest which would instantly take me back to my childhood. Back to a time when I was free to explore the woods just outside my back door, when caterpillars and brilliantly colored flowers would capture my attention for hours and I cursed the fact that I could not draw well enough to convey the beauty which was always within my reach. Nowadays, I am thankful for digital photography which allows me to share some of my favorite places “off the beaten path” with my friends who might otherwise never have the opportunity to explore them with me.
Plum Orchard Lake is located in Fayette County, just thirty minutes from the New River Gorge Bridge. Around these parts, when people tell you they are “going to the lake”, they are usually referring to Summersville Lake. Sadly, Plum Orchard is oftentimes overlooked as a recreational option. Although swimming is prohibited, there is a treasure trove of places to explore for photographers wanting to capture nature in her finest moment or fishermen not wanting to be disturbed by Sea-Doos.
Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area encompasses 3200 acres. There are 21 primitive campsites at Beech Bottom campground and 17 primitive sites above the dam. Each campsite has a tent pad, grill and picnic table. There is a centrally located restroom and wells for drinking water. The camping fee is $12 per night and sites are designated on a first come first serve basis.
Also located at Plum Orchard is a shooting range. There is no charge to use this facility but shooters are to observe all safety rules and guidelines.
According to its website: Plum Orchard Lake was constructed in 1962 and impounds 202 acres. It provides 6.5 miles of shoreline and has a maximum depth of 40 feet. Good populations of sunfish, largemouth bass, channel catfish and crappie have been established. Water conditions are usually clear, and nighttime angling is successful. Plum Orchard Lake offers rowboat rentals (visit the Wildlife Management Area office for this service). Three boat launching ramps are located on the lake. Boat motors may be of unlimited horsepower in the unrestricted portion of the lake, but in the restricted part of the fishing area, only electric motors are allowed. Fishing with minnows is prohibited. The purchase and possession of a fishing license is required. (On a recent trip to the lake, I encountered a gentleman who was busy preparing a large catch of bluegill for his dinner.)
Although this lake is not as highly trafficked as its counterpart in Nicholas County, you should consider making a daytrip to the area to take in the beauty and solitude that Plum Orchard offers. If you are already familiar with Plum Orchard, please share your photos and stories. I would love to see/hear them.