One of the best car camp/day trip spot in the George Washington National Forest. Right on the border Virginia/West Virginia boarder, just under 30 miles off of Interstate 81.

Directly off of Interstate 81, headed toward West Virginia on Rt 33 is a beautiful lake only known by the locals. Switzer Lake, named because Switzer Dam was placed on the Dry River years ago to aid Harrisonburg and the surrounding area with its increased need for drinking water. The lake is seldom visited by fishermen but more often by locals who just want to get away. There are several awesome lake front camping spots, but if you don't score one of these campsites, there are plenty off to your right as you drive down Skidmore Fork Rd.

Starting from the beginning, drive down Rt. 33 through the GW Forest, take a right on Switzer Lake Rd right as you reach the top of the mountain and follow the dirt road for about half a mile. You have the option to take a left into a parking lot which leads you to the (kind of iffy) boat ramp, or continue straight to the multiple pull offs where the majority of the camp spots are. My favorite spot is about a quarter of a mile down to left, there is a pull of on the lake side of the road. Walk (or drive of you have a car that can handle it) about 100yds down the path towards the lake and it widens into a very large area with a decent fire pit (we have fit 15 ppl comfortably). The only picture I have of this site is the one looking through the trees out toward the lake, this is the view from the path as you walk down away from Skidmorefork Rd. If this spot is taken there are plenty more further down the road. With regards to wildlife, I have seen Black Bear, Deer, Bald Eagles and caught a few Bass and Sun Fish.

Pack List

  • No permit or campsite reservation needed
  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag
  • Food supplies
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RT Distance 2 Miles
Activities Stand Up Paddle, Hunting, Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Camping here is beautiful, no more swimming though

We’ve been camping here for almost 20 years. It is a beautiful location, but can get very crowded in the fall and spring, making it difficult to find a place to camp. Most established camping spots are large enough for group camping. Unfortunately, its illegal to swim here because this is a Harrisonburg city reservoir. And FYI - we’ve seen a park ranger or sheriff every time we’ve been out there.

Beautiful But No Camping

An amazing area that takes some easy off-roading to get to. The lake is amazing however camping is not allowed on the lake anymore and there's plenty of signs that say so. Further down the road there may be camping but we decided to turn back.

Bucket List!

My boyfriend and I go at least four times a year. We have camped in a tent when our modestly converted utility trailer can't make it to the more secluded spots; i.e., when our favorite spot is already taken. Our three dogs love it also!


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