Youghiogheny River Lake
Guide

Introduction

The Youghiogheny River Lake, U.S. Corps of Engineers project, was completed in 1942 to provide flood control on the Youghiogheny River, Upper Ohio River, and Lower Monongahela River Valley. Since its creation, it is estimated that the COE project has prevented flood damages of over $569 million. The Corps dam also improves downstream water quality. Water can be released during low water periods to dilute polluted water that accumulates from municipalities and industry at downstream locations.

A town that once existed in the valley was abandoned and flooded when the project was created, and the stone Great Crossings Bridge which crossed the river at the town of Somerfield is still visible when water levels are very low. The river lake which formed in 1944 after the project was complete spans the Mason Dixon line between Pennsylvania and Maryland and extends for 16 miles, with multiple channels that are up to ½ mile wide.

The dam itself is located upstream from Confluence Pennsylvania and is a 184 foot high, earth structure, that is 1610 feet long at its peak. The reservoir has 4.4 square miles of surface and a maximum capacity of 300 000 acre-feet with an average storage level of 149 300 acre-feet. This makes the lake excellent for power boating, water skiing, watersports, and fishing.

There are 22 recreation sites on the lake operated by various private and state agencies, and five Corps-managed sites currently in operation with amenities. COE-managed sites include Jockey Hollow Recreation Area, which has a group picnic area; Mill Run Recreation Area, which has a campground, boat ramp, playground, and swimming beach; and Outflow Recreation Area, where a campground, fishing pier, playground, picnic area, and multi-use trails are located.

There's also Somerfield North Recreation Area, which has a boat ramp and picnic area, and Youghiogheny Recreation Area, where a boat ramp, picnic area, and swim beach can be found. Both Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania and Big Run State Park in Maryland are just over a ½ hour drive from COE sites at Youghiogheny River Lake.

RV Rentals in Youghiogheny River Lake

Transportation

Driving

From Confluence, Pennsylvania, head west for .5 miles on PA 281 and turn south on the well-marked access roads to access the Youghiogheny River Lake Dam area. A recreation area is located at the spillway site with a paved parking area.
For overnight camping, visit the Outflow Recreation Area which can be reached via Route 281 from Confluence. Follow the highway over the Cassleman and Youghiogheny Rivers which have paved bridges, and no issues with overhead clearance, and turn left to head south immediately after crossing the Youghiogheny River Bridge, to reach the campground loops. The campground loops are paved, as are back-in sites with open areas so you can negotiate the winding campground loops with your RV or travel trailer with plenty of room and good sightlines.
To reach Mill Run Recreation Area in Maryland, take route 40 east and turn right at Friendsville Addison Road. Continue for three miles, then turn right onto Mill Run Road to reach the campground.
During the winter months, area highways and access roads can experience inclement winter weather, making for hazardous icy conditions. Please note that RVs and tow vehicles are particularly susceptible to losing traction in these conditions. Take care to execute braking and turns at reduced speeds, leave plenty of room, and use winter tires to improve traction.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Youghiogheny River Lake

Campsites in Youghiogheny River Lake

Reservations camping

Mill Run Recreation Area

Located in Maryland, Mill Run is a Corps managed campground. There are 30 reservable back-in sites at the Mill Run Campground, where the Corps of Engineers provides a recreation area. Amenities include flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station, boat launch, playground, and swim beach. Sites are non-electric and can accommodate moderate-sized RVs and tow vehicles. There are ADA accessible sites and pets are permitted in the campground. Lakefront sites are available, and the campground area is well forested, with lots of cool shady spots and privacy.
Because of the proximity to the water, and the heavy forest, insect repellent is recommended. Fire rings, grills, picnic tables, and fire pits are available at campsites, which are gravel surfaced. The lake provides excellent fishing opportunities, and the natural surrounding area is a nature lover's paradise, with plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. The swim beach is dependent on water quality and is not supervised, so check water quality reports and swim at your own risk.

Outflow Recreation Area

This Corps of Engineers managed campground is easily accessible from nearby Confluence, Pennsylvania, where services and amenities can be accessed. This campground is a relatively open campground, with some shade trees located on the west side of the Youghiogheny River. The access roads and campsites are paved for easy access.
There are 65 sites, which include RV sites, walk-in group sites, and tent-only sites. Many of the RV sites have electric hookups available, and some have water hookups as well. Amenities include flush toilets, drinking water supplies, and an RV dump station. There is also a playground for little ones to enjoy, and an amphitheater where local events can be held. A fishing pier allows for sport fishing along the river, and a fantastic multi-use hiking trail runs through the campground, extending for miles in either direction. Enjoy the beautiful natural areas along the river and the Corps Project dam nearby.

Seasonal activities in Youghiogheny River Lake

In-Season

Fishing

Plenty of coves and backwater areas provide excellent fishing grounds along the Youghiogheny River Lake, and there are boat ramps on COE and in other recreation areas along the waterway. The Outflow recreation area has a fishing pier, and the tailwaters at the Youghiogheny River Lake dam are open for trout fishing all year, with the exception of two weeks prior to the start of the season. They are stocked by the Fish and Boat Commission regularly in the spring and summer months. Walleye and smallmouth bass hotspot locations are also available at the lake. You will need a state fishing license for Maryland or Pennsylvania depending on your location.

Boating

The Corps of Engineers sites at Mill Run, Outflow Recreation Area, Summerfield North Recreation Area, and Youghiogheny Recreation Area, provide boat ramps to access the lake for motorboats and car top watercraft. With a 16 mile length, the Youghiogheny River Lake is considered to be one of the best watersport lakes in the region.

If you prefer to paddle the river, the area below Ohiopyle has whitewater, with rapids and boulders, where kayaking competitions are regularly held.

Swimming

The Youghiogheny River Lake has swimming areas located at the Corps of Engineers Recreation sites. Mill Run Recreation area in Maryland has a swim beach as does the Youghiogheny Recreation Area. Swim beach areas have facilities like restrooms and change areas. However, there is no lifeguard on duty.

Do not swim alone, stay in an area appropriate to your swimming ability, wear a life jacket if necessary, and keep children within easy reach. When water quality is poor, swim beach areas may be closed.

Cross Country Skiing

Hiking trails can be used as cross country ski trails when snowfall is sufficient, although tracks are not necessarily set and may require you to create your own.

If you are looking for some great, groomed, cross country ski trails in the area, check out the Ohiopyle State Park, just a short distance away, under a 10 minute drive, from Confluence, where the flat, easy section of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail is ideal for cross country skiing, and is usually groomed with cross country ski tracks when there is enough snow.

Off-Season

Cycling

If you love to explore nature on two wheels, you will find a great cycling trail on the Youghiogheny River Hiking-Biking Trail South which extends from Confluence, Pennsylvania to Ohiopyle State Park. The entire multi-use trail stretches for 71 miles and has a crushed limestone surface. There are many scenic lookouts and recreation areas and amenities along the trail. A cycling helmet is recommended for safety when cycling on this multi-use nature trail. During the fall when the leaves are changing colors, the trail provides spectacular scenery.

Hiking

The Youghiogheny River Lake region is famous for its wonderful hiking trails. The multi-use Youghiogheny River Hiking-Biking trail winds from Confluence and the dam recreation area, along the river, to the state park to the west on the Great Allegheny Passage. It extends for miles with a crushed limestone surface to prevent excessive muddy conditions.

This is a multi-use trail so watch for cyclists. Early in the year, and in late fall, temperatures are cooler for strenuous hiking, and biting insect populations are reduced or nonexistent. An added bonus in the fall is the colorful autumn foliage!