Located in southwestern Pennsylvania, among terrain characterized by its diversity, Loyalhanna Lake provides a mixture of scenery and recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites you to visit the lake and enjoy its natural settings. Visitors to the lake will discover rolling foothills of the Laurel Highlands, from which the headwaters of Loyalhanna Creek flow, the steep, wooded hillsides and ravines found in the vicinity of the dam. Amid these surroundings, visitors to Loyalhanna Lake can enjoy many outdoor activities.
Fishing is popular at Loyalhanna with an abundance of inlets, coves and backwater areas. Plentiful in the lake are largemouth bass, crappie, bullhead, and bluegill. There are also large populations of muskellunge established and occasionally trout from the headwaters are caught in the lake. Fishing is particularly good in the area where Serviceberry Run flows into the lake and in the waters of the stilling basin and outflow area below the dam.
For boaters, the lake offers many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. A three-lane boat launching ramp is provided for power boaters and water-ski enthusiasts. Canoeists can float Loyalhanna Creek as it meanders on its course toward the lake, providing beautiful scenery and a chance to observe nature. Boaters at Loyalhanna also can venture along the Black Willow Water Trail. This unique trail is a self-guided boating trail with designated stations marking many natural and man-made features. A trail brochure provides additional information and is available at the boat launch area and the lake office.
If a quiet spot for an afternoon picnic with family and friends is what you are looking for, Loyalhanna has it. The Damsite Picnic Area, with its panoramic view of the dam and surrounding areas, is popular with visitors. Another picnic area is in the Bush Recreation Area. Pavilions are available for rental. Please call the park office with inquiries.
Loyalhanna also offers facilities for camping at the Bush Recreation Area. There are 44 campsites, each with a picnic table and fire ring. Electric and water sites are also available. The campground also has restroom facilities and a sanitary dump station. A primitive group campground, located at the Kiski Area, is available for organized groups by contacting the lake office. Camp sites cannot be reserved. They are registered on a first come first serve basis.
The Corps of Engineers leases 3,200 acres of project lands to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for wildlife management purposes and public hunting. Hunters will discover that the lake's surrounding area holds a variety of different game, such as deer, rabbit and squirrel. There are also many types of game birds including turkey, grouse, pheasants, and doves. Several parking lots have also been developed to provide access to hunting areas.
Boat with caution! Be especially aware of the existence of underwater obstructions. In addition, floating debris may be at or near the lake surface as a result of fluctuating lake levels. Boaters and skiers should be watchful for these hazards; because of these floating and underwater hazards, diving is discouraged.
When boating, the best protection against drowning is to wear your PFD. U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs are required, by regulation, if you are less than 13 years of age, a non-swimmer, are on a boat less than 16 feet in length or are in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Know the rules before you go out on the water.
The fire potential is generally high during the recreation season. Help prevent forest fires by obeying the No Open Fire regulation in effect.
Be considerate of those in canoes or fishing at anchor. There are several shallow areas upstream of the boat launch. Please use caution. Alcohol and Boating Don't Mix! Don't drink while operating a boat. Alcohol is involved in at least 50 percent of all drownings and a major cause of death in recreational boating accidents.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on all Corps of Engineers lake lands and waters! Be alert to changing weather/ lake conditions storms can come on very quickly. If lightning is spotted, head for shore immediately and seek out a safe location.
Use a wading stick to check for sudden drop-offs in the water and for extra balance. Federal rules and regulations concerning the use of this lake are set forth in Title 36, Chapter III, of the Code of Federal Regulations and are on display in public areas of this lake.