Summer Fun in the Waters of Bath County, Virginia

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There’s no better time to be on and in the water than summertime, and the waters of Bath County offer all the splashing fun a family could want or all the solitude an angler or paddler might desire.

Hit the beach in the mountains of western Virginia at Douthat State Park or Lake Moomaw. Less than 45 minutes from Hot Springs, they’re both great places to float and while away the day in the sun and on the sand. Access the beaches at Lake Moomaw within the Bolar Mountain Recreation Area where you can also enjoy camping and hiking. Be sure to pack a picnic and bring the camera.

The Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers run cold as they make their way through the mountains to converge with other tributaries leading to the Chesapeake Bay. They’re perfect spawning streams for native trout and smallmouth bass, which draw anglers from all over for some of the finest fly fishermen in Virginia.

Lake fishing can be rewarding with a wide array of both warm and cold water species thriving in Lake Moomaw, an impoundment created by Gathright Dam and fed by the Jackson River. Fish two stories of habitats to pull in the cold brook, brown, and rainbow trout or a variety of warm biters like channel catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass. Only trout are stocked in Lake Moomaw.

The fishing at Douthat State Park is similar to that of Lake Moomaw but could be considered more family friendly thanks to a designated kids’ fishing area. Casters 12 and younger can fish for trout below the dam in Wilson Creek. Brook, Brown, and Rainbow varieties are stocked twice per week during the fee-based fishing season, making the odds of getting a bite swing in your favor.

The Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers are top choices for paddlers. Area outfitters equip adventurers with kayaks, canoes, tubes and shuttle services. At Douthat State Park visitors can rent a funyak, Jon boat, paddleboat, hyrdobike, or paddleboard between Memorial Day and Labor Day. On the much larger Lake Moomaw, visitors can use the lake’s boat ramps to put in a bass boat, jet ski, or even sailboat and explore all 2530 acres and 43 miles of wooded shoreline.

Don’t let the adventures of summer in the mountains pass you by. Plan your trip at to experience a place just far enough off the beaten path to feel like a world away.

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