Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area

Bear Rock Lakes

Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management area is located in the northern panhandle in Ohio County. Minutes from Wheeling, WV, this WMA offers more than most realize. This West Virginia public land contains four man-made lakes, well manicured trails and a picnic area inside its 242 acre border.

If you live in the northern panhandle of West Virginia or around it and haven’t been to Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area you are missing out. Read on and we will explain why.

Bear Rock Lakes Fishing

As the name suggests, Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area is home to four different man-made lakes. Bear Lake, Rock Lake, Baker Lake and Wood Pond. The four bodies of water total 16 acres in size.

Two dams constructed on Todd Run in 1949 form the two main lakes – Bear Lake and Rock Lake. Todd Run is a tributary to Wheeling Creek, which eventually flows to the Ohio River.

Bear Rock Lakes WMA

Bear Lake is the closest lake to the parking lot, and the biggest at 8 acres in size. A paved walkway lines one side of the lake and the shoreline is easily accessible around its entire perimeter.

If you don’t want to fish from the shoreline, there is a boat ramp near the parking lot. Only electric motors are permitted on the lake. Of the four lakes, this Bear Lake is the biggest and the only one accessible to boating.

Bear Lake is perfect for kayak fishing. It doesn’t take much to paddle to the far shoreline so a motorized boat seems like overkill here.

If you continue on over the dam through the wooded hiking trail, you will come to the Rock Lake.

Rock Lake is 2.1 acres and it will take you almost a half mile walk from the parking lot to get there. This makes it the least crowded lake on the Wildlife Managament Area. Count on Rock Lake to have some vacancy if every spot is already taken when you pull up to fish.

In early 2022, mining activity was taking place hundreds of feet beneath the surface. For the safety of the coal miners, the WVDNR drained the lakes. Because of this, the fish in Bear Lake were relocated to the smallest lake – Wood Pond.

Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area
Fish from the wooden deck or explore the shoreline of Wood Pond for creatures – kids will have fun doing either.

At only .5 acres, it became the only spot to fish at Bear Rocks. It’s one of our favorite though. The wooden deck is great for fishing with the kids, and there are always frogs and minnows off the shoreline. That makes the day interesting, even if the fish aren’t biting.

Unfortunately, later on in the year the water level of Wood Pond began to drop. Because of this, the WVDNR restricted fishing at the Wildlife Management Area altogether.

Thankfully, the water level has risen and fishing returned to Bear Rocks Lake WMA in 2023. While still not completely full, it looks much closer to normal than the big muddy pit did last year.

Because of this, the WVDNR has suspended trout stocking at Bear Rocks Lake. Hopefully, it will resume in 2024. Meanwhile, nearby Castlemans Run Wildlife Management Area has been receiving the trout stocking allocated for Bear Rocks.

WV Class Q Fishing At Baker Lake

WV Class Q Fishing

The final lake that makes up Bear Rocks Lake Wildlife Management area is the 3 acre Baker Lake.

Baker Lake is one of only ten class Q fishing lakes in West Virginia. From March 1 to May 31, only Class Q permit holders and children under 10 can fish at Baker Lake in the Wildlife Management Area.

You can imagine that with only ten Class Q fishing lakes in West Virginia they aren’t in every county. Baker Lake is the most northern Class Q lake in the state and the only one in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. I

Baker Lake WV Class Q Fishing

Improving access to fishing is an important cause in the state of West Virginia. These restricted lakes allow equal opportunities throughout the year for children and people with disabilities.

Money donated by nearby Cabelas allowed for the construction of the dock pictured above on Baker Lake. Partnerships with corporations in the outdoor industry, like Cabelas, enables the WVDNR to increase exposure to hunting and fishing in West Virginia.

In April, a goose laid four eggs next to the Class Q fishing dock at Baker Lake. It was quite adamant we weren’t walking onto that dock during our visit.

It seemed like a poor location to build a nest but we obeyed her request and went to the fishing dock at Wood Pond instead.

If you are considering introducing someone to fishing, a trip to Baker Lake during the WV spring trout stocking should be high on your to-do list. Increasing the odds of success is a surefire way to leave a positive lasting impression.

Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area
A view of Baker Lake from the Class Q fishing dock.

If you haven’t noticed by now, fishing is one of the main attractions of this West Virginia Wildlife Management Area. Despite its small size, the fishing is good year round.

Even in late winter when my primary focus is shed hunting, it’s not uncommon to see people ice fishing on the frozen Bear Lake. That’s not all this Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area has to offer West Virginians though.

Hiking At Bear Rock Lakes

Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area Hiking

Unlike the other nearby West Virginia public land, Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area has a number of well manicured hiking trails.

The WV DNR does an excellent job of maintaining the property and making it attractive for a number of outdoor activities.

If you’ve grown tired of hiking at Oglebay Park and are looking for an alternative nearby, you’ve found it. Plenty of people go to Bear Rock Lakes to hike but this great resource is still underutilized.

When fishing, we always see people out walking their dogs through the wooded trails.

Our favorite hike at Bear Rock Lakes starts in the main parking lot. Follow the paved path along the Bear Lake to the grassy dam at the far end. From there you enter the woods along the mowed trail and travel slightly uphill. This trail loops up and back around to take you out to the entrance road you drove in on.

From start to finish, the total distance is just over a mile and it’s a nice easy walk.

West Virginia Public Hunting Land

Hunters in West Virginia will be interested to learn that the WVDNR plants crops in sections of Bear Rocks Lake Wildlife Management Area.

This gives public land hunters the rare opportunity to go dove hunting in West Virginia in addition to the normal deer, turkey and squirrel hunting.

To be honest, I haven’t encountered many hunters at Bear Rock Lakes. I’ve seen a duck hunter or two and typically on the opening day of West Virginia deer hunting season there will be a dozen people wearing blaze orange.

Aside from that, I’ve had minimal interaction with hunters at Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management area.

Don’t let the thought of hunters nearby deter you from spending time on West Virginia’s public lands. Hikers and hunters are quite capable of coexisting and sharing the space.

There are probably many places where people are hunting and you don’t even realize it.

In fact, when I am hunting at a popular WV hiking destination I will go out of my way to try and avoid people. I can’t speak for every hunter, but I’m sure the majority act and feel the same way.

Final Thoughts

For as great as Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area is for the state of West Virginia, I find it to be very underutilized. There are creeks to explore and fish to catch.

If water doesn’t interest you, you can hike the trails or just have lunch by the lake. Take your pick, you can do it here.

Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area

We love spending time here. Our kids enjoy it and so do our dogs. We’re pretty confident in our recommendation and think that you will love it too.

See what you’ve been missing. Pick an activity and head to Bear Rock Lakes Wildlife Management Area to enjoy West Virginia’s great outdoors.

How to get to Bear Rocks Lake Wildlife Management Area

You can get to Bear Rocks Lake WMA by getting off Interstate 70 at exit # and taking Route 40 east for # miles toward Pennsylvania. It is an easy drive and well marked with signs to follow.

What kind of fish are in Bear Rocks Lake?

You can catch trout, catfish, muskie, large-mouth bass, and bluegill in this WV lake.

Does the WVDNR stock trout here?

Yes, the WVDNR stock trout from March to June at Bear Rocks Lake.

Do you need a fishing license to fish at Bear Rocks Lake?

Yes, everyone age 15 or older needs a valid WV fishing license.

Can I walk my dog at Bear Rocks Lake?

Bear Rocks Lake is an excellent place to take your dog for a walk on the hiking trails.

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