The Best Lakes in Pennsylvania to Add to Your Itinerary

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Couple kissing in front of lake in Pennsylvania

The lakes in Pennsylvania make a road trip through the state worth it. They are special any time of year. Prepare your travel planner as we expose the best lakes to add to your itinerary. 

Keep reading to learn how many lakes are in Pennsylvania and which are natural. We also guide you to the top ten options in the state. 

Let’s dive in!

How Many Lakes Are in Pennsylvania? 

There are more than 2,500 lakes in Pennsylvania. The waterways provide swimming, fishing, paddling, boating, and watersports opportunities. 

You’ll find various sizes and depths in the lakes, and the scenery and landscapes around the lakes are typically forested and lend way to beautiful nature hikes. 

Whichever season you’re enjoying the water, there’s something to see and do. For example, the fall leaves around lakes in Pennsylvania make for extra special photography trips.

Woman sitting with dogs next to lake in Pennsylvania

Does Pennsylvania Have Any Natural Lakes?

It may be surprising to learn that most Pennsylvania lakes are not natural. Most of the bodies of water in the state are reservoirs made from dammed streams and rivers. They’re created for flood control, power generation, irrigation, or recreation.

There are about 50 natural glacial lakes in Pennsylvania. Most are in the Pocono Mountains and the northern part of the state. For example, Conneaut Lake is the largest glacial lake. 

What Is the Clearest Lake in Pennsylvania? 

The clearest lake in Pennsylvania is Raystown Lake. It’s around 8,000 acres. You can see to the bottom in many spots along the shore. And if you go to Hawn’s Overlook, you’ll get a gorgeous view of the lake from overhead and the region around it.

Traveler’s Tip: Talk a walk down memory lane and Step Back in Time at the Timeline Arcade in PA.

Grandpa and grandchild splashing on dock next to Pennsylvania lake

The Best Lakes in Pennsylvania to Add to Your Itinerary

Get your map and pen ready! Let’s look at the ten best lakes in Pennsylvania. 

Raystown Lake

Location: The lakes are between Pittsburg and Hershey, just east of Interstate 99.

About: Considered the clearest lake in that state, Raystown Lake is large and perfect for all types of water activities. It has a sandy beach where you can swim in the blue water. You’ll find wildlife around the lake, like tortoises. 

Lake Wallenpaupack

Location: Lake Wallenpaupack is in the Pocono Mountains. It’s on the state’s east side and about 100 miles northeast of New York City.

About: Lake Wallenpaupack is a beautiful escape from the city. The reservoir is 13 miles long and has 52 miles of shoreline. This vacation haven allows you to enjoy sailing, swimming, fishing, and scenic boat tours. There are several restaurants, shops, attractions, and lodging in the area.

Lake Erie

Location: Lake Erie is on the very northern tip of Pennsylvania. It encompasses approximately 77 miles of shoreline in the state.

About: Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes and the only one that touches Pennsylvania. The large lake also shares a shoreline with Michigan, Ohio, New York, and Canada. Presque Isle State Park is the best place to enjoy the lake from the shores of Pennsylvania. It sits on a sandy peninsula where you can swim, fish, boat, view wildlife, and picnic. 

Conneaut Lake

Location: The lake is in northwest Pennsylvania, about 82 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio.

About: Conneaut Lake is the largest glacial lake in Pennsylvania. It’s a popular vacation spot for boating, fishing, swimming, watersports, and more. You’ll find seasonal events here, and there’s an amusement park, Conneaut Lake Park. 

Lake Nockamixon

Location: The lake is in the southeast portion of the state, about 55 miles north of Philadelphia. 

About: Lake Nockamixon is a reservoir that sits among rolling hills covered with beautiful forests and offers boating and fishing. Swimming is discouraged in the lake due to algae blooms. You can also hike in the area, picnic, view wildlife, and participate in activities such as disc golf.

Lake Harmony

Location: Lake Harmony is in eastern Pennsylvania between Allentown and Scranton.

About: Lake Harmony is a small and charming lake in the Poconos. Whether you’re visiting in the winter or summer, there’s plenty going on. The town is a hot spot for visitors seeking outdoor recreation, lodging, shopping, and food. There are ski slopes nearby and guided fishing trips are popular. 

Allegheny Reservoir and Kinzua Dam

Location: The reservoir and dam are in the northern part of the state, about 70 miles from Erie, Pa.

About: Kinzua Dam is one of the largest dams in the eastern United States, and it created Allegheny Reservoir, an outdoor recreation wonderland within the Allegheny National Forest. From boating and fishing to camping and hiking, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the magnificent area. 

Pymatuning Lake

Location: The lake is on the northwestern border of Pennsylvania, approximately 55 miles southwest of Erie. 

About: You can access the Pymatuning reservoir via Pymatuning State Park. The park is over 16,800 acres and is one of the most visited in the state. It’s a popular location for spotting eagles and a coveted spot for anglers. You can rent a boat here or put in your own. 

Traveler’s Tip: Get out into the great outdoors by using this guide on how to Plan Your Perfect Visit to Laurel Hill State Park.

Fairview Lake

Location: Fairview Lake is in the Poconos just south of Lake Wallenpaupack.

About: Fairview Lake offers a peaceful getaway as one of the glacial lakes in the Pocono Mountains. It’s 169 acres on which you can boat and fish. The lake is in the middle of mature trees that are a sight to see in the autumn via boat or kayak.

Antietam Lake Reservoir

Location: The reservoir is in central Pennsylvania near Reading. 

About: Antietam Lake Reservoir is pristine and dates back to 1865. There used to be a mill on the lake, and you can visit part of its past that’s been preserved. The lake is ideal for a quiet getaway or day trip. You can picnic, view wildlife, and bike in the area.

Are Lakes in Pennsylvania Worth Visiting? 

Lakes in Pennsylvania are worth visiting. They offer recreation and beauty year-round. With so many to choose from, you’re bound to fall in love with one or more. Many people vacation at the same lake year after year because it’s quite easy to fall in love with the state and its lakes.

Let us know if you visit one or more of the lakes on our list. We would love to hear about your experience.

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