Philpott Lake, situated in south Franklin County, is famed for its first-rate fishing. In fact, this 3,000-acre lake with 100 miles of unspoiled shoreland offers some of, if not Virginia's best, smallmouth bass and trout lake fishing.
All it takes is one visit to Philpott to become enamored with the area's timeless beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Use this informative guide to discover the best areas of the lake and all they have to offer.
Before you visit Philpott Lake, it's important to familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace 7 Principles. Philpott Lake and Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains are natural treasures. By following these principles, you play your part in minimizing your impact on these enchanting areas so future generations can enjoy them.
Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between the late 1940s and early 1950s, Philpott Lake opened to the public in 1953. In addition to nine boat launches, eight campgrounds (check for seasonality and availability), and six beach areas, Philpott provides visitors with a wide-ranging menu of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, biking, swimming, boating, hunting, and even a special summer concert series.
Philpott Dam: After the area experienced severe flooding for years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam to help control the Smith River and create Philpott Lake. It is a mighty sight to behold while appreciating the human race's ingenuity.
Philpott Marina: On the southernmost edge of the lake, you’ll find Philpott Marina. Among its long list of amenities are a fueling station, 58 boat slips, a campground overlooking the marina with a bathhouse facility, and a store with drinks, snacks, fishing supplies, bagged ice, drinks, food, and ice cream.
Jamison Mill Park: Tucked away from the bustling city life, this park is a hidden gem with its lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere. Jamison Mill Park boasts a range of activities, from hiking trails to birdwatching spots, making it an ideal destination for those seeking tranquility. Jamison Mill Park also features a campground for an overnight stay within close proximity to the lake.
Dogwood Glen Trail: Dogwood Glen Trail beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its enchanting beauty and diverse ecosystems. This trail is a nature lover's paradise, offering a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The trail's meandering route reveals scenic vistas and hidden alcoves, making it a perfect destination for hikers and photographers alike.
Concerts by Canoe: This special summer concert series is one of the most fun ways to experience the fun of live music and the outdoors in Virginia's Blue Ridge. Each show features a local band performing on a floating stage at the water's edge, and attendees are invited to bring their own canoes, kayaks, boats, and tubes to float their way around the stage and enjoy the music.
Swimming Beaches: Few things compare to lake swimming on a summer's day. The expansive Philpott Lake provides sandy beaches where you and yours can swim the day away, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Among the six beach areas to explore are Bowens Creek Recreation Area, Salthouse Branch Recreation Area, Horseshoe Point Park, and Goose Point Recreation Area.
Fishing: This is, without a doubt, one of the largest draws of the area. Anglers love casting their line for largemouth bass, walleye, black crappie, and others. Whether on the water or shoreline, feeling that exciting tug on your line is not far off with Philpott Lake fishing.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding: With scenery straight out of a painting, the lake is a highly popular place for stand-up paddleboarding.
Fairy Stone State Park: Sprawling along the lake’s southwestern edge is Fairy Stone State Park. This park has cabin rentals, group camping, an equestrian campground, hiking trails, lake swimming, a conference center, two playgrounds, paddleboats, rowboats, canoes, and kayaks.
Deer Island: Only accessible by boat, Deer Island is a breathtaking getaway offering ample opportunity for paddle-in camping, fishing, and more. If you seek seclusion, check out Philpott Lake’s Deer Island.
Photos courtesy of Matt Ross - Franklin County Parks & Recreation, Jennifer Griffin, & Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation