Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mill Creek Lake - August 2008


Mill Creek Lake is a 189 acre lake just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Amherst County, Virginia. It's one of the largest public access lakes in the region with a concrete boat ramp, dock, picnic facilities, playground, bathroom, and plenty of parking. It's also one of the most scenic lakes in the region, sporting sweeping views of 4000 foot peaks along the Blue Ridge.

I arrived on a Saturday afternoon after a 32 mile drive from the southern Shenandoah Valley over the mountains and into the piedmont where the lake is located. This lake allows small fishing boats in addition to paddlecraft, and there were about half a dozen fishing boats in the lake. A husband and wife with two SINKs arrived as I was pushing back from the dock.

The lake has four 'arms' to explore with lots of little coves and secluded spots. To do one complete circuit of the lake would probably take a couple of hours or more. I tend to explore one of two of the arms, which takes about an hour, before packing it up and heading back home. This lake is also large enough to kick it into overdrive and get some good exercise, something my 17' Heritage is only too happy to accommodate. I need to bring along a GPS receiver for one of these cruises to see how fast this boat can go, but I estimate at least 5 knots, perhaps more. This boat is 4 inches narrower and 3 1/2 feet longer than the 14' Sea Dart, and while that make it slightly harder to turn, the payoff is increased speed and the ability to cover much more ground in your allotted time. Stability seem to be about the same as the 14' Heritage.

I happened upon one of the largest Beaver lodges I've ever seen in one of the secluded coves. Notice how it continues back up into the trees:

Mill Creek is near Lynchburg, VA. This part of Virginia has been very dry this summer, with Lynchburg recording its driest June and July on record, and only recording a trace of rainfall for the entire month of August so far. Water levels in the lake were the lowest I've seen, easily a good 1-2 feet lower than they were earlier this summer. Watch and listen to a short (15 seconds) video of lake water cascading down the spillway pipe on its way out of the lake beneath the dam:

video

Mill Creek Lake makes for a very pleasant afternoon cruise. View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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