If you like lakes, you’ll find a lot to love about the Dan River State Crossings region.
While Southern Virginia and Piedmont North Carolina are defined largely by the Dan and Smith rivers, they’re also home to awesome lakes. You can find great fishing, swimming, boating and more in a variety of settings at lakes across the region.
Buggs Island Lake/John H. Kerr Reservoir
Let’s begin at the end, with Buggs Island Lake/John H. Kerr Reservoir, which with 50,000 acres of fresh water is Virginia’s largest lake. The Dan River empties into Buggs Island Lake on the eastern end of the State Crossings region, marking it as an endpoint in some respects.
The lake’s 800 miles of shoreline contain tons of activities and things to do, but don’t miss out on the lake itself. Indulge your adventurous side with water sports such as skiing, fishing, sailing and swimming. Or if you prefer to stay in the boat, enjoy fishing the number one lake in the U.S. for crappie fishing, as named by “In-Fisherman” magazine.
Hyco Lake (also known as Carolina Power Lake) covers 3,750 acres with 120 miles of shoreline. Carolina Power and Light Company (now Duke Energy) built it in the early ’60s as a cooling reservoir for its steam electric generating plant.
Enjoy boating, swimming, camping, picnicking, fishing for bass and crappie, wildlife watching and the lake’s natural beauty.
On the other end of the region, check out Philpott Lake. Philpott encompasses 2,880 acres nestled in the mountains of Franklin, Henry and Patrick counties. Largemouth and smallmouth bass attract fishermen, as do the lake’s population of walleye.
Access the lake from a variety of different sites, and enjoy paddling Philpott’s extensive blueway system. The lake shore remains undeveloped, aside from recreational amenities such as campgrounds, beaches and boat launches.
Mayo Lake and the 120-acre park around it offer quality fishing, camping and plenty of places to relax. From Mayo Park’s Environmental Education and Community Center, find convenient access to an ADA-accessible fishing pier, two picnic shelters, a large playground and the Mayo Park boat landing. Mayo Park’s Sasquatch disc golf course uses the natural beauty of Mayo Lake to create a scenic challenging disc golf course that will keep disc golfers on their toes.
Hanging Rock State Park Lake
Hanging Rock State Park contains enough activities for a jam-packed weekend. The 12-acre lake formed by the damming of Cascade Creek functions as the heart of the park. No private boats are allowed, but you can rent canoes or rowboats when the lake facilities are open.
You can swim in the lake during summer months. You can also fish year round for bass, sunfish and catfish. Fish from the shore, the wheelchair accessible pier or from a rental boat.
Lake Reidsville offers more than 750 acres of action-packed fun, including camping, fishing, boating, water skiing, hiking, picnicking and more.
The lake is also a popular spot for anglers and fishing tournaments because of its abundance of bass, crappie and bream. The park also includes a disc golf course and one-mile mountain bike trail. Lake Reidsville park is a popular spot for bird watching and is a designated site on the North Carolina Birding Trail.
A small portion of Belews Lake is located in Rockingham County near Madison. This tranquil lake spans more than 88 miles and more 3,800 acres total across four counties. It is centrally located to many Piedmont Triad cities and provides numerous options for fishing, water sports and camping. It’s also the home of Carolina Marina, a boating sales and service and camping facility.
Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake operates as one of Virginia’s premier lakes. The second largest lake in the state after Buggs Island Lake, Smith Mountain Lake touches Bedford, Franklin and PIttsylvania counties.
The 20,600-acre lake functions as one of Virginia’s premier fisheries and boating destinations. Largemouth bass comprise the bulk of the fishery. Smith Mountain Lake serves as one of the top producers of bass citations in Virginia and has been hosting an ESPN Bassmaster Elite Series tournament for several years. You can also find crappie in the lake. They’re not as abundant as in some other lakes, but fisherman who hit the right spots can land many quality size crappies.
Fairy Stone Lake
Fairy Stone Lake sits not far from Philpott Lake as part of the Fairy Stone State Park. The 168-acre lake might be smaller than others in the region, but it provides lots of options for visitors. Find lodging, camping, swimming, hiking, picnic facilities, and john boat or canoe rentals.
Boaters may not use outboard motors, although they may use boats with motors so long as the motors are trimmed up and are not in use. Find the gravel boat ramp across the lake from the beach, away from other park facilities. You can fish from a boat or shoreline for largemouth bass, sunfish and crappie.
When you want a quiet, tranquil place to enjoy the great outdoors, think of Farmer Lake. Built in 1986 for Yanceyville, Farmer Lake’s 365 acres make a great place for fishing, boating, waterfowl hunting and picnics. The lake is open from March 1 through Nov. 30.