Tuesday, October 3, 2023


The long, long RV trip, Week 12: Summersville Lake camping—Almost Heaven, West Virginia

This Week’s Stop: Summersville Lake Camping in West Virginia

After leaving Brewery 33, I knew I eventually wanted to end up at my friend John’s estate in Virginia. But since I had to pass through West Virginia to get there, I looked for a good campsite at which to put my National Park Pass to good use.

I will fully admit my decision was largely based on how good the Verizon signal was reported to be. West Virginia had lots of amazing-looking campsites that would have qualified for the parks pass, however, most of them had little to no cell/internet coverage. As I needed to work along with recreate, that wouldn’t do.

But I found an incredible place that also had connectivity at the Battle Run Campground at Summersville Lake.

To borrow a phrase from John Denver, Summersville Lake camping was “almost heaven” in West Virginia.

An unintended tour of West Virginia hollers

That was when I finally got there and set up camp on the shores of Summersville Lake.  Getting to said lake, however, was more than a little stressful, although, hopefully, it won’t be for you.

I am not sure if I missed a turn or my GPS had it wrong, but the road I was on kept getting narrower and windier as I progressed towards Battle Run Campground at Summersville Lake. Or allegedly towards there, anyway.

The drive was gorgeous albeit slow, traversing up and down forested mountains into tiny backwoods “hollers.”

But slow as it was, it had been going on far too long. Then I lost the signal.

There was nowhere to turn and no choice but to keep going.

The road finally dead-ended WAY far out in the woods. A gentleman immediately emerged from his double-wide saying, “I sure hope you’re lost!”

I admitted this was indeed the case.

Luckily the natives were friendly. He allowed me to turn around on his huge front lawn and pointed me back the other way with directions on how to actually get to Summersville Lake.

Summersville Lake camping and RVing

summersville lake camping the RVing

This is the second Army Corps of Engineers campground I have visited on this trip (the other being Wilson Lake in Kansas). Both were OUTSTANDING in the way they are managed and in the value they provide for the price.

With my National Parks Pass it was only about $15 a night for lakeside camping with electrical hookups. (Water and a dump station is available just not at the campsite.)  Even at double the price without a pass, it’s still a bargain for a campsite of this quality.

There are lakeside campsites with full hookups, partial hookups, or tent sites at Summersville Lake. The campsites are a little close, but not as ridiculous as some campgrounds I have visited.

Being the height of summer, the campground was fairly crowded, but definitely not sold out.

One downside to Summersville Lake camping, however, is that no dogs are allowed. At least not at this federal campground. There are also state campgrounds on the lake that might have different rules.

This would have put Battle Run Campground out of the running for me earlier in the season. However, since my beloved Budley is now happily living his best life in Missouri, it wasn’t an issue.

Summersville Dam: What’s in a name?

summersville lake camping and rving

A fun side note: Summersville Lake is part of the Summersville Dam complex. Usually the Army Corps of Engineers names the dams they build after the nearest town. In the case of the Summersville Dam, however, the nearest town was NOT Summersville, West Virginia.  It was the town of Gad. The powers that be did not want to name it the Gad Dam.

West Virginia’s largest lake, Summersville Lake covers more than 2,800 acres of water bordered by 60 miles of shoreline.

The lake supports all manner of boating including fishing boats, power boats, sailboats, pontoon boats, jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks. Beyond that, there is swimming and even scuba diving.

There are also some terrific hiking trails emanating from the campground, including one along the Gad Dam Dike (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Seriously, though, easy access to great hiking right outside the door does motivate me to get off my butt more. Something I definitely need.

It did rain off and on for a few days, which only made the area greener and lusher. There was still plenty of time between the showers to get outside and enjoy the spectacular surroundings.

Fishing at Summersville Lake

summersville lake camping

There were lots of families camping nearby. If you had a waterfront spot and brought your boat, you could even moor it right there next to the campsite.

My campsite had easy lake access that those along the center row did not, so I welcomed my nearby neighbors to use the space.

The kids were absolutely delightful, and it was fun watching them have fun playing in the lake.

One cute little boy, about 10, and I especially bonded. He would give me updates several times a day on his fishing exploits. He was so cute!

Sadly, he never did catch a fish while I was there, but not for lack of trying.

I suspect there were better fishing spots in the HUGE lake other than our semi-busy little inlet where lots of boats launched and traveled. Hopefully, he got one after I left.

He knew all about the area and what he could potentially catch, though. His information was confirmed in talking to other anglers on my walks around the shoreline who had better luck.

What were they catching?

Large and smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, and catfish. In spring and fall, trout are stocked below the dam.

What else is there to do at Summersville Lake?

summersville Lake kayaking at sunset

In addition to the water sports, hiking, and fishing that I already mentioned, visitors also enjoy:

  • Picnicking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • Technical rock climbing
  • White water rafting is available year-round, but look for scheduled whitewater releases below the dam on the world-class Gauley River in September and October.

Summersville Lake practicalities

Next Week: Camping on a Civil War Battleground, visiting Madison’s Montpelier and Jefferson’s Monticello

Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:


Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicardhttps://cannademy.com/
Cheri Sicard is the author 8 published books on topics as diverse as US Citizenship to Cannabis Cooking. Cheri grew up in a circus family and has been RVing on and off her entire life.


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Joe White
1 year ago

The COE campground at Summersville lake does not have full hookup, electricity only. They do have two dump stations and two potable water points to fill tanks. It is indeed a great campground with a boat launch and the the ability to tie your boat up at your campsite in some locations. After labor day all sites are first come first serve!

Glen Cowgill
1 year ago

I spent a lot of time on that lake as a young boy growing up in West Virginia. Weekends would be spent fishing the many streams and lakes throughout WV. Not far from there at Jackson’s Mill near Weston, WV is a very interesting place now owned by West Virginia University which features the young life of Stonewall Jackson. In Weston there is a lot of History relating to the area along with the Mental Hospital that has been featured on several TV shows as being haunted.

The Stonewall Jackson resort just south of Weston is a beautiful well maintained campground which part of that area I hunted as a young lad before the lake was created. West Virginia is truly a magical state that few people really know or experience. There is the sight of the first civil war battle, the beautiful mountains, the music that emanates from many a log cabin. .

Joe White
1 year ago
Reply to  Glen Cowgill

I couldn’t agree more Glen!

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