canonsburg lake sign

If you live south of Pittsburgh, you have fewer lakes nearby than you would north of the city. Fortunately, there is at least one lake that makes for a decent paddle, and that is Canonsburg Lake.

It’s a fairly small lake, with a surface area of about 76 acres and a maximum depth of 12-18 feet. But it has an interesting shape where it’s long and narrow, winding away from the dam more like a river, minus a current.

Directions and Getting There

The lake is easy to find. It’s right off of Route 19, across from a Giant Eagle.

It’s about a 10 minute drive from downtown Canonsburg, 15 minutes from Bridgeville, and 25 minutes from South Park (which does not have a lake).

Address:

Canonsburg Lake
108 McDowell Ln
Canonsburg, PA 15317

GPS coordinates:

40.269879, -80.130702

The address and coordinates will take you to the main parking lot that includes a boat launch.

Parking:

The main parking lot is claimed to hold “at least 10 cars.” That’s true, but I think they could have done a better job estimating. It’s a big lot, and I’d say it accommodates 50 cars.

There are two smaller lots on nearby roads that may hold 3-10 cars each, but all are within walking distance.

Even on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I’ve never seen a full parking lot.

kayaking canonsburg lake

Paddling Canonsburg Lake

The lake is easy to find, not crowded, offers a public boat launch, and is totally free to enjoy.

Keep in mind there are no kayak rentals and no amenities other than a Port-a-John.

The water is very calm, and is quite a bit like North Park Lake, just smaller. While the max depth is estimated at 18′, that’s right near the dam. Once you get away from the dam, where the lake starts to look like a river, I believe the depth is around 3-4′.

You have to be careful in some areas because the depth is only 6″ or so! You will be fine as long as you pay attention and stay in the main channels.

Early in the season, when the water is high enough, you can actually paddle up Little Chartiers Creek which feeds into the lake.

It’s a great place to explore on your own. It can be quite peaceful once you paddle away from the dam.

You’ll see lots of wildlife. I see tons of ducks and geese, quite a few blue herons, and some other waterfowl that I have no idea what they are.

waterfowl at canonsburg lake

Also, if you float near the dam (at your own risk since it says “boats keep back 200 feet”), there is a cool wildlife hangout spot right there.

Swimming in Canonsburg Lake

While the lake can be enjoyed from within a kayak, it’s not my first choice swimming destination!

Around the dam might be fairly enjoyable, but anywhere else, it’s a little muddy. And in some areas, it smells bad, too.

canonsburg lake

Fishing at Canonsburg Lake

The lake is home to largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, channel catfish, bullhead catfish, carp, and bluegill, among others.

The Fish & Boat Commission says you’re allowed to fish from the shore or from an electric-motor power boat (or your kayak).

If you were going to fish from the shore, I would recommend going below the spillway. I’ve heard that’s a good location for channel cats and smallmouth bass.

If you have a kayak, though, you can avoid the crowds. The far side of the lake is great because it cannot be fished from the shore. I see bass jump there all the time.

You can also fish the lower, river-like portion of the lake, where the birds do the majority of their fishing. There are lots of logs and tree branches in the water, so I assume there are bass hiding there.

There are large carp throughout the shallow sections. Enough of them that I routinely hit or scare them with my paddle!

I would suggest taking rooster tails and spinners as your lures.

 

As far as kayaking goes, if you live within 15 minutes, it’s great. Otherwise it’s not really worth the trip. It’s a small lake and gets low in a hurry once you head away from the dam.

If you are going to paddle and fish, I believe it would make for a very fun outing.

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