Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Elkhorn Lake - May 2009

Deep inside George Washington National Forest northwest of Staunton, Virginia lies Elkhorn Lake, a 54-acre impoundment used mostly as a fishing lake. I arrived on a cloudy and muggy afternoon with the threat of showers to explore this lake on my 14' Heritage Sea Dart. Access to the lake is provided by a gravel boat launch with room to park several vehicles. Restrooms are also provided, but there are no other facilities.

The lake itself is squarish in shape and framed by high peaks on all sides. Being 54 acres, it only takes five or ten minutes to power from one side of the lake to the other, so I mostly explored the shoreline by doing one circuit around the lake.

Several people were bank fishing this afternoon, and there was one small bass boat fishing on the lake, but for the most part, the lake was smooth and quiet during my time on the water.

It was tempting to just float in the middle of the lake and watch the low-hanging cloud deck pass over the surrounding peaks.

Rock ledges are visible on one side of the lake. Closer inspection revealed these outcrops to consist of interbedded fine- to coarse-grained siliclastic rocks (i.e., sands & muds) with about a 30-degree dip.

One layer exhibited a fine conglomerate with rounded quartz nodules showing nice differential weathering. Notice in the picture below how the fine-grained matrix material has weathered away relative to the resistant quartz nodules:

This side of the lake also shows evidence of a recent forest fire. Perhaps in the past year or two during severe drought:

One downside to this lake is the amount of trash along the shoreline. While trash is, unfortunately, a reality almost everywhere these days, the shoreline along this lake had more trash than I've seen at any of my other locations in the region. It's second only to West Point Lake, Georgia - a location I paddled this past March, and I was surprised by the amount of trash in the coves on West Point Lake.

Elkhorn Lake is a fine location for local paddlers looking for an hour's paddle. View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.


Jay Heath said...

What great photos, Steve. I dragged my wife downstairs to see the composition and resolution. These little spots you find must be local treasures for paddlers with an appreciation for solitude and natural beauty. The heavily wooded shoreline and hills are quite a contrast to the lakes of eastern South Dakota.


Steve said...

Thanks, Jay! Marindahl Lake has a similar feel to some of the mountain lakes around here, but the biggest difference for me is the absence of silt in the rivers. I remember the constant battles I fought with mud on the Big Sioux and Vermillion Rivers.