Camping at Switzer Lake
** UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 6, 2017 - You can no longer camp at Switzer Lake and signs have been posted. Law enforcement reguarly patrols area and illegal camping will result in fines **
This past weekend, Michael, a few friends and I went camping at Switzer Lake (aka Switzer Reservoir). The lake is truly beautiful, rolling mountains dip down to the edges, kingfishers fish from branches overhanging the lake, and outdoor enthusiasts come from all over to camp, canoe, swim and fish the lake. This was my first time here so I was soaking everything in and trying to learn as much as I could because I immediately knew I'd have to share this place with other people. When we arrived we first went down to the boat ramp to get a better view of the lake. From here we started to drive around the lake following Skidmore Fork Road (I'll have more on directions below). Along the lake there are a few campsites that are identifiable by their little campfire pits made out of rocks. We chose a campsite that was across the lake so we had to canoe over to get to our destination. While having to canoe all of our gear to our campsite was a mild pain in the butt, it really was worth it to be away from the road and to have our own space. I left my Jeep parked on the side of the road and it was safe for the entire weekend.
Both days were amazingly beautiful. I mean, the weather was absolutely perfect. The first night was a little chilly but the fire kept us warm and the second night was about 10 degrees warmer but much windier. The sky both nights was clear and you could see millions of stars. Sometimes a huge gust of wind at least 20mph or more would sweep across the lake and blow us around for a bit but then it would subside and it would be calm. During the day I read by the lake and watched a pair of birds fish all day long. There were people out on kayaks and boats fishing. The mountains were beautiful and the way they plummeted straight down into the water made it just perfect.
To get to the lake, you take 33 west out of Harrisonburg and right before you cross into West Virginia, there's a road called Skidmore Fork Rd (it will be on your left) that will take you down to the reservoir. The lake is a popular location for trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping and off-roading. It would be impossible for a place like this to not be popular...
Camping is one of those things that definitely requires some planning, some preparation, and some effort, but it's worth it. I probably won't be going again until next spring/summer but I know the destination will be near some body of water. For me, having a lake or river to fish/kayak/swim in makes the trip just that much more fun (and makes for even better views).
I feel like this year fall has been particularly beautiful. The weather has been clear for the most part and the temperatures have been surprisingly mild... I wish it would stay like this until Thanksgiving!