Cheat Lake: The Complete Visitors’ Guide
About Cheat Lake
Cheat Lake is a 1,730-acre man-made reservoir located in the northern part of Monongalia County, about 10 miles east of downtown Morgantown and West Virginia University’s Main Campus.
Some areas of the lake are a perfect getaway with calm and shady waters where you can drop your anchor, turn on the radio, and crack open a cool drink. These areas are known by the locals as “the backwaters” and are the spots for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Other parts of the lake cater to more adventurous spirits. Power-boaters, inner-tubers, jet skiers and water skiers can be found along the main drag of Cheat Lake.
For an almost heavenly outdoor adventure, plan your visit to Cheat Lake during leaf peeping season in the fall. Schedule your trip with our guide to the Top Spots for Leaf Peeping in Mountaineer Country.
Water Activities on Cheat Lake
Swimming is available for families and boaters alike at multiple locations along Cheat Lake. Walk right up to the water from Cheat Lake Park or Sunset Beach, or drop-anchor and dive right in when boating on the lake. Visitors should note that there is no lifeguard on duty for Cheat Lake and that personal safety precautions are encouraged.
Kayaking and Canoeing
The calm, steady waters of Cheat Lake are surrounded by forested hillsides and picturesque banks. Cast-off from Ice’s Ferry Bridge and float northward with the current until you reach Cheat Lake Park for an easy day out on the water. Kayak and canoe rentals are available at Sunset Beach Marina, along with select retailers in Mountaineer Country.
Thanks to local fisheries and conservation efforts, Cheat Lake is home to several species of bass, walleye, catfish, pike, and trout. Fishermen can steer their boat into the calm backwaters of Cheat Lake for early morning fishing, or cast from the pier along the Cheat Lake Trail. For more information on the type of fishing you can enjoy, click here.
Public and paid launch sites are available to visitors looking to get their boat out onto the waters of Cheat Lake. The launch sites at Edgewater Marina are paid but offer additional services such as gasoline refueling, supplies, and first-come-first-served boat-slip rentals. Free launch sites at Sunset Beach Marina and Cheat Lake Park are open to the public and offer smaller ramps for walk-up or drive-up watercraft.
Visitors to Cheat Lake can choose between a lazy day tubing down the backwaters or high-speed adventure being pulled around the headwaters. Have your own fun or join a group led tubing tour down the Cheat River with Cheat River Outfitters.
Jet skiing is permitted in the headwaters of Cheat Lake, with drop-off points and refueling stations available at Sunset Beach Marina and Edgewater Marina. Jet ski rentals are also available at Sunset Beach Marina, along with water skis, wakeboarding, and other equipment.
Cheat Lake Water-Safety Tips
- Wear a portable flotation device (PFD) while participating in water activities. Have enough PFDs for everyone with you.
- Summer weekends on Cheat Lake get busy. Choose when and where you go based on the crowd. Be mindful of boat traffic and make sure you know how to fully operate your vehicle.
- Account for how long you will be on the water. Make sure you have enough gas and motor oil to get you through the day. (You can purchase both at Sunset Beach Marina and Edgewater Marina.)
- Leave the lake better than how you found it. Take out your own trash if you accumulate any.
- Know the difference between public and private property. Be mindful that you do not trespass.
Whatever your pace, Cheat Lake is the place. The following are the four public access points to Cheat Lake so you can get in on the fun.
Cheat Lake Park
Cheat Lake Park, located off Morgans Run Road, is at a no-wake part of the lake, so it’s great for those who want to stay away from fast motorboats. This spot along the Cheat Lake Trail is equipped with family-friendly amenities such as a playground, beach, swimming access, and restrooms. It’s a hit for fishermen, too, with an on-site fish cleaning station.
Sunset Beach Marina
Sunset Beach Marina is perhaps the largest of the four entry points. Its gravel parking lot offers 200 spots for those interested in ramp access to Cheat Lake. Nearby is Lakehouse on the Cheat, a popular dockside restaurant spot with sunset views, and a stocked marine shop for all of your boating needs.
Ices Ferry Bridge
The Ices Ferry Bridge access point is the newest addition to this list. It appeared at the east end of the new Ices Ferry Bridge following its construction in 2013. If you’re a paddle sports enthusiast, this access point is for you. The carry-down access ramp opens up to the upper part of Cheat Lake and is perfect for canoes and kayaks while offering a rocky shore for fishermen to enjoy.
The Edgewater Marina is the last access point on Cheat Lake, located just a few miles south of Ice’s Ferry Bridge on the opposite shore. The Marina offers summer dock rentals, winter storage, refueling, and supplies to help you get out on the water. The Whippoorwill Bar & Grill is an on-site restaurant that serves up burgers and beer during boating season.
Explore Around Cheat Lake
The Cheat Lake Trail is a 4.5-mile trail following the north-eastern shoreline of the lake. The Trail stretches from just below the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border, all the way to the middle of Cheat Lake, with visitor access at Cheat Lake Park. The trail is open walkers and cyclists, offering 12-foot wide paved paths that are handicap accessible. Docks and pavilions along the trail are perfect for picnics and fishing.
Coopers Rock State Forest, located just 10-miles east from Cheat Lake, is a regional favorite for hiking, bouldering, camping, and enjoying the great outdoors. When Coopers Rock was still an active mining site, Cheat River would serve as a mode of transportation for supplies and materials. Today, the river can be seen from the Coopers Rock Overlook, a popular spot for photos and taking in the surrounding area.
Places to Stay Near Cheat Lake
Visitors to Cheat Lake can choose between a range of overnight accommodations, all available within a 10-minute drive. Find familiar comforts at Holiday Inn Express and Super 8 By Wyndham, both located just off I-68 in the Pierpont Centre. Make the most of your trip with a stay at The Cranberry, Ascend Collection Hotel. Finally, embrace your weekend-warrior spirit with true outdoor adventure at Mountain Creek Cabins and campgrounds at Coopers Rock State Forest.
Restaurants Near Cheat Lake
After a day on the water, relax with great food and good times! All of the restaurants listed below are local favorites, each offering unique menus and atmospheres.
- Tropics – Hawaiian-themed restaurant with authentic recipes and inspired drinks.
- Walzzy’s Hotdogs – Specialty hotdogs and sandwiches, made-to-order, and full of flavor.
- Ruby & Ketchy’s Restaurant – Family-owned and operated diner serving home-style favorites.
- Fat Angelos – Colossal pizzas with tons of toppings, perfect for any party or gathering.
- Fujiyama – Hibachi grill experience with drink and sushi specials.
- Apple Annies – Freshly-baked goods and pastries along with family favorites.
- The Lakehouse – Leisurely bar and grill on Cheat Lake, serving seafood, soups and salads, pizza, and more.
- Dockside Grille – Family-owned American grill on Cheat Lake featuring an extensive menu variety of the land & sea.
- Almost Heaven Desserts & Coffee Shop – Trendy and delicious, this fun coffee shop serves milkshakes, food, specialty desserts, and more!
Cheat Lake Gallery
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you swim in Cheat Lake?
Swimming is welcome at Cheat Lake at the Beach and in designated swimming areas. However, visitors should be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty.
Why is it called Cheat Lake?
Cheat Lake was originally named Lake Lynn, after the president for West Penn Power, the electrical company responsible for the planning and development of the dam on Cheat River. However, locals referred to the lake as “Cheat Lake” after the Cheat River. Eventually, the lake was officially renamed as Cheat Lake.
Is Cheat Lake WV man-made?
Cheat Lake was built by West Penn Power as part of 1910 construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Cheat River.
How far is Cheat Lake from Morgantown?
Cheat Lake is 18-miles—a 25-minute drive from Morgantown WV.
What kind of fish are in Cheat Lake?
Cheat Lake is home to different species of bass, walleye, pike, catfish, and trout.