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Lake Shenandoah

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWT: Be Safe While OutdoorsDWR encourages you to be safe while outdoors. Before heading out, first check with individual sites on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail for any COVID-19 policies or closures. This information is typically posted on a site's own website. Remember to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines while enjoying the outdoors.

Important Notices For This Site

Lake Shenandoah Water Level DrawdownUpdated March 11, 2020 — A flood occurred at Lake Shenandoah and during this event the emergency spillway (north side of dam) on the dam was damaged and is going to require extensive repair. The Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) engineering staff inspected the damage and due to the severity we are required by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Dam Safety to lower the lake approximately 5 feet from full pool and remain at that level until the emergency spillway is repaired. We have recently lowered the lake to stay in compliance with DCR and our engineering staff and to reduce the threat of the dam failing during a high water event. Additional improvements to the dam are necessary to be in compliance with the Virginia Dam Safety Program. As owners of the dam, DWR is required to make these improvements to eliminate any safety concerns. The requirements are enforced by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Currently the plan is to make the repairs to the emergency spillway at the same time the improvements are made to the dam. Contractors will be onsite this summer to construct a road and replace the culvert over the stream entering from the golf course (north bay). This is necessary to get the heavy equipment to the dam for repairs. The repairs for the dam are not yet scheduled and will likely not be in 2020. DWR understands this is going to impair the use of the lake. DWR staff have already begun discussing temporary improvements so anglers and boaters can access the lake. DWR plans to improve access where feasible once the lake is lowered to a safe level for the summer. We also plan to seed the newly-exposed areas around the perimeter of the lake to reduce potential turbidity in the lake and to improve the overall appearance of the property. During these unfortunate circumstances we will strive to do our best to eliminate any inconveniences.


Elevation: 1303 ft.

Lake Shenandoah is known locally for the spectacular waterfowl it can attract during migration and in winter. However, the rich diversity of resident birds makes a visit worthwhile any time of year. A trail hugs the perimeter of the lake, providing easy access to the entire area (a small portion crosses private property). Species to look for during the spring and summer include green and great blue herons, black-crowned night-heron, mallard, wood and ruddy duck, and belted kingfisher. The scrubby bushes and vines, around the lake are good places to search for indigo bunting, gray catbird and song sparrow, while fish crow may appear anywhere along the bank. Barn swallow and tree swallow nest nearby and hunt over the lake. Also, be on the lookout for red-tailed and -shouldered hawk overhead. In addition to birds, the lake provides habitat for several species of dragonflies, including eastern amberwing, widow skimmer, common whitetail, and common green darner, as well as an abundance of painted turtles. Various butterflies species found in the maintained pollinator gardens around the lake include eastern tiger, spicebush, pipevine, and red-spotted purple swallowtail, silver-spotted skipper, monarch, pearl crescent and various duskywings.

A visit to the meadow along the western arm of Lake Shenandoah is encouraged for those who want to learn more about meadow habitats, pollinator species like honey bees and Monarch butterflies, the importance of controlled fires, and other wildlife living in the area. This area was restored by the Virginia DWR and partners, who transformed it from mowed parklands into a meadow habitat suitable for pollinator conservation. Beginning in the spring of 2015, DWR staff and volunteers prepared the area and planted wildflowers and grasses attractive to pollinators. Wildflower species include bee balm, smooth beardtongue, Brown Eyed Susan, lance-leaved coreopsis, purple coneflower, and swamp milkweed. Continued maintenance in conjunction with the Virginia Master Naturalists and the Lake Pointe Homeowners Association has lead to the success of this project. Other restoration efforts have included prescribed burns to control woody vegetation and stimulate growth of native plants. Additionally, interpretive signs, outreach programs, and community meetings have been supported by a number of organizations and groups: the Rockingham-Harrisonburg chapter of the Izaak Walton League, the Shenandoah Valley Beekeepers Association, the Virginia Master Naturalists, the Grassland Working Group of the Fire Learning Network, Rockingham County, the city of Harrisonburg, and teachers from local schools.

Note: To access the site, a Restore the Wild Membership, Virginia hunting license, freshwater fishing license, boat registration, or an access permit is required.


Location: Just south of 1922 Massanetta Springs Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Coordinates: 38.38185, -78.83929

From I-81 near Harrisonburg, take exit 247A and merge onto US 33 E/E Market St toward Elkton and continue for 2.6 miles. Turn right onto SR 687/Massanetta Springs Rd. In 1.9 miles, turn left and proceed to the parking area overlooking the lake.

From the Previous Site on the Lost Shoe Loop of the VBWT:

Leaving Lake Campbell, turn right on Rt. 687 and continue south 0.7 miles to the stop sign at the intersection of Shenandoah Lake Road. Continue straight 0.4 miles to lake parking on the left.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources - Jason Hallacher: (540) 248-9360, jason.hallacher@dwr.virginia.gov
  • Website
  • Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; Restore the Wild Membership, hunting license, freshwater fishing license, boat registration, or an access permit is required.

Birds Recently Seen at Lake Shenandoah (as reported to eBird)

  • Killdeer
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Field Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Canada Goose

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Environmental Study Area
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Interpretive Nature Program
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Kayak/Canoe Launch
  • Canoe/Kayak Rentals
  • Boat Ramp