Growing up, many of us had the splendid experience of camping at the lake with the family. Some of my favorite memories revolve around camping with cousins, riding bikes and just being kids while the family gathered for some semblance of a Griswold family reunion. Slipping away to a tranquil tent town is my idea of a relaxing vacation where real bonding occurs and magical memories are made. When my girlfriend’s family decided they wanted to do a camping trip to Summersville Lake Retreat in August, I couldn’t wait to get back to those roots.
The overdue weekend finally came and we caravanned down with the RV, kayaks, and bikes in tow. Full of giddiness and child-like exuberance, we pulled in and immediately recognized the only lighthouse in WV from afar like it was Big Ben (not the QB). The lighthouse itself has a great history and Steve and Donna, the owners, suggest taking a tour while visiting to get the full scoop.
When our party arrived, we were greeted with nothing but smiles, wagging tails and a welcoming kinship to our nomadic village. As we drove around the camp headed to find our perfect site, kids darted around on bikes and people waved as if they knew the memories flooding my mind and were welcoming me back. Settling in to our new home, I couldn’t help but feel better as we began to build a fire to mesmerize us all.
Not only does Summersville Lake Retreat offer paddle board, kayak and canoe rentals, they have two beautiful pontoon boats as well. Having my boating license since I was a kid, I couldn’t help but offer to drive the group as Captain of our fine vessel. After getting the run down on boating safety and etiquette from Paul our rental guide, he graciously pointed out the mooring buoys and rock climbing ledges. Fully loaded and ready for our maiden voyage, we hooked up the boat and put in down near the damn in the Army Core of Engineers boat launch. As we disembarked from land, our journey onto one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen, was blessed by golden rays and warm breezes.
We slowly made our way through the lake’s meandering waters and marveled at all the scenery and recounted the last time that I had seen the lake was right after the 2016 Flood in which the water level crested around 20 ft higher than it was on our day. This time around, the cliffs were more pronounced and the trees were happy to have back their rightful space in the ground instead of the muddy waters that surrounded them.
As we moored off in Pirate Cove, we slipped into the clear waters to float our cares away. After adventuring around this area, we packed up and moved to watch some rock climbers send a few routes above the water with grace and cheered them on from below. As our day came to a close we finalized the day in the no wake zone near Battle Run reflecting on all laughs in preparation of some exquisite camp fire cuisine. Back at camp, the last of the s’mores were being cooked and we laughed as a joke was made about enjoying another vacation without cousin Eddy showing up unannounced.
For all our enjoyment, Summersville Lake Retreat indeed lived up to its reputation “where incredible scenery and warm hospitality meet!”. As we prepared to leave our oasis in the woods, the only thought on my mind was coming back next year. We all agreed that our dollars were well spent in delivering us a nostalgic respite from our daily grind. The new memories made will be added to those from childhood and always keep us coming back for family camping at the lake.
2017 Lighthouse Festival
Join Summersville Lake Retreat for the 4th Annual Summersville Lake Lighthouse Festival on Saturday, August 26th, 2017 from 10am to 6pm on the Lighthouse grounds. Cabela’s is the Official Sponsor of the Event and will be on hand all afternoon teaching archery this year. Tamarack Artisans and Crafters from throughout the state will be showcasing their skills along with live Appalachian music, great food, entertainment, raffles and a Classic Car Show. Live entertainment at the Gazebo includes EmmaLea Deal from 11am to 2pm who is headlining for “Rudy Elvis” performing from 3pm to 5pm. The Humane Society and the Nicholas County Animal Shelter will have kittens and puppies available for adoption. All Lighthouse Tours will be $5 per person on the day of the Festival. New this Year will be Gotcha! Archery Games which features Archery Tag, $5 per player per game or $15 for unlimited.
Don’t forget to stop at the booth to sign a card for a soldier from WV Ambassadors for Adopt A US Soldier and sign up for a membership with the Air Evac Life Team who will have their 16′ Air Evac Helicopter on display. New this year for the kids is Face Painting, Balloon Animals and Henna Tattoos by Paint MisBehavin’. Also Woodbine Jams & Jellies, Girl Scouts Bake Sale, Hackworths Wood & Steel, Moss Scroll Works, Saw Dust & Festhers and CJH Outdoor Creations are just a few of the booths you must stop to see. At the Food Court is the Almost Heaven Sunset Slush, Dickies BBQ and the Rolling Stove, along with the Lemon Lemonade Booth, Kettle Corn & Funnel Cakes.