Monday, August 25, 2008

Lake Douthat - August 2008

A cold front and the approaching remnants of Tropical Storm Fay provided a canopy of clouds plus the threat of showers & storms during an afternoon outing today at Lake Douthat, a 40 acre impoundment in Douthat State Park in Bath County, Virginia. Calm winds allowed for a glassy smooth water surface on this small, oval shaped lake.

Lake Douthat is a full facility state park in Virginia, meaning that it offers a public beach with bathhouse, camping, a camping store, boat dock with ramp, restaurant, hiking trails, playgrounds, and more. I paid a $2 daily access fee to park my vehicle at the boat ramp for a couple of hours of paddling (fee required from Memorial Day through Labor Day). It was relatively quiet for a Monday afternoon in August, although there were a couple of small fishing boats on the lake, hikers on the surrounding trails, and several families with kids on the beach.

I spent about 50 minutes on the lake today, which consisted of one complete lap of the perimeter and one roundtrip down the center of the lake in my 17' Heritage Expedition. Tucked in a narrow, scenic valley, this lake is about 40 minutes from my home and is a good destination for a quick afternoon paddle, and a great spot to bring the kids and the tandem. Any beginner kayaker would feel safe on this lake, and, in fact, one of the local outfitters holds Kayaking 101 lessons in this very spot.

The lake is surrounded on two sides by steep mountains, with a concrete and rock dam on one end, and inflow stream on the other. It's possible to paddle right up to the dam and look over, thanks to a concrete lip preventing boats from going over the edge - at least when water levels are low, as they are now.

Water is backed up about 25 yards into the inflow stream before it gets too rocky to proceed any farther upstream:

Bedrock in this area of the world consists of folded shales, sandstones, and limestones, all part of an ancient continental shelf folded, faulted, and thrust up into the atmosphere during the formation of the Appalachian Mountains some 400 million years ago. Erosion has now exposed the very core of this ancient mountain range.

Douthat is a small, but pleasant lake. Perfect for a quick paddle or family getaway.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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