The 3,201-acre Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area ranges across a forest of oak and hickory in a wide cove between Packs and Haystack mountains in western Fayette County. The area is a drive of approximately eight miles from the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
Though established as a public hunting and fishing area, the state-managed preserve may best be known as the location of 202-acre Plum Orchard Lake, a notably popular destination for flat-water kayaking. The lake has been outfitted with four boat launches and accommodates fishing for bluegill, crappie, sunfish, largemouth bass, and channel catfish.
Game traditionally hunted in the management area includes deer, squirrel, turkey, raccoon, and waterfowl. Hiking trails, a 100-yard shooting range, and rustic campsites have been developed on the property. Plum Orchard Lake was created by impounding Plum Orchard Creek, a tributary of Paint Creek. The creek was named for an orchard of plum trees located near its mouth.
The lake was built in 1962 and attains a maximum depth of 40 feet and an average depth of 15 feet. Boat rentals and a concrete boat ramp are available at the lake. Unlimited horsepower boat motors are permitted, and special boating regulations are posted at the area entrance. The use of live minnows as bait is prohibited.
Two campgrounds provide 25 rustic combination trailer- and tent-camping sites, rented on a first-come,-first-served basis. The camping season runs nearly year-round; however, recreational facilities operate from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Large bluegill are abundant and can be caught easily on worms and small spinners. Fishing for channel catfish has been excellent after dark using natural baits. Largemouth bass are taken as early as the end of March on worms, spinners, and deep-running lures. The lake often remains clear when most impoundments in the state are muddy.
Directions: The Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area is located in western Fayette County, five miles north of Pax, WV, and nine miles southwest of Oak Hill, WV. The area is accessible from the Pax or Mossy exits of expressway I-77/I-64 (the West Virginia Turnpike).
From either exit, follow Paint Creek Road (WV-23) north or south to Plum Orchard Road (CR-23/1). From Oak Hill, WV, follow Scarbro Road (CR-1/5) south to Old Plum Orchard Road at Scarbro, WV. Follow the latter, a gravel road for much of its length, three miles into the management area.
The Plum Orchard WMA is managed by the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources. It was formerly known as the Plum Orchard Lake Public Hunting & Fishing Area.
Hotels near Plum Orchard Lake WMA
Further information on lodging, dining, and recreation near the Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area may be found in our guide to travel in the New River Gorge Region in southern West Virginia, in which the management area is located.