Updates Related to COVID-19 »

Switzer Lake Area

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.


Elevation: 2362 ft.

This colossal lake is a sight to behold. The surrounding forested mountains appear to just drop into the lake, making for scenery reminiscent of majestic paintings by the late Bob Ross. The lake should be checked during migration and winter for waterfowl. At other times of the year, it could host great blue and green herons and, on occasion, a bald eagle or osprey may drop in to pick out a bass for dinner. The neighboring hillsides are heavily wooded and host many woodland birds. Pileated woodpeckers can be heard as their loud raucous call reverberates across the lake. American goldfinch twitter overhead and ruffed grouse and wild turkey stalk the roadsides. Careful exploration is sure to reward the butterfly enthusiast; tiger and spicebush swallowtail, question mark, silver-spotted skipper, and American painted lady have been spotted here. There is little reason to doubt why they frequent this site as Black Eyed Susan, milkweed, wild columbine, and Queen Anne’s lace abound.

Note that because this lake serves as the main water supply for surrounding towns, swimming and gas motorboating are prohibited. Camping is restricted to areas further down Skidmore Fork Rd/Switzer Lake Rd with less accessible sites past the second river crossing. Be sure to secure any food overnight as black bears are known to frequent campsites in this area.


Location: Skidmore Fork Rd/Switzer Lake Rd off of US 33, Hinton, VA 22831

From US-33 in Harrisonburg, travel west for 19.8 miles. Turn left on Skidmore Fork Rd/Switzer Lake Rd. Continue 1.1 miles to a parking area on the left. Further along the road there are also multiple pulloffs. Use caution on this road; during winter months it may be impassable.

From the Previous Site on the North River Loop of the VBWT:

From Paul State Forest, continue north on Rt. 613 for approximately 3.9 miles to US 33. Turn left on US 33 West and follow it 12.1 miles to FR 227. Turn left on FR 227 and continue 1.1 miles to parking area on the left. Use caution on this road; during winter months it may be impassable.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: U.S. Forest Service, North River Ranger District: 540-432-0187
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Birds Recently Seen at Switzer Lake Area (as reported to eBird)

  • Northern Shoveler
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • Blue-headed Vireo

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Camping
  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking
  • Kayak/Canoe Launch
  • Primitive Camping