In Virginia’s Shenandoah County, 44-acre Lake Laura is a dream and it’s the perfect destination for an easy-going walk on a Saturday morning.
This dam-fed lake in Basye is owned by Bryce Resort, but it is open to the public. The rectangular lake is filled by the headwaters of nearby Big Stony Creek.
As you circumnavigate the lake you’ll see cabins steps off the trail. Honestly, if I had any bars of cell service, I might have bought a cabin during my hike.
This well-shaded hike is ideal when all you want is a quiet walk in nature. I imagine this lake gets quite busy with kayaks and canoes, so go early in the day if you can.
|Elevation Gain||223 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly dirt & gravel trails|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
The large gravel parking lot for Lake Laura is situated at the north end of the lake, just below the dam. At least a couple dozen cars can comfortably park in this lot.
The lot is below the lake, so you won’t see Lake Laura until you walk up a short gravel path. In season, colorful kayaks and canoes sit on the shore.
Since this is a loop hike, you can go in either direction, but I think the better option is to circumnavigate pristine Lake Laura counter-clockwise.
Lake Laura Trail
Once you walk up to the lake from the parking area, stay to your right to walk over the dam. At the .2-mile mark, turn left into the forest at the brown trail sign.
From here, you’ll walk south along the lake’s west shores. Along the Lake Laura Trail, you’ll see wooden cabins peeking through the trees, enjoying the lake views.
On this side of Lake Laura, you’re above the lake and there are no boat docks. You won’t get close to the water until the 1.2-mile mark, at the public boat landing.
You may see anglers putting in their human-powered and electric motor boats for a day of fishing on the lake. Lake Laura is well-known for its largemouth bass.
Enjoy your first views north to the lower end of the lake, including scenic mountain views. There are plenty of spots to step right out to the water, too.
As you proceed, the lake trail continues to the left of the gravel road. You’ll round the lake on a grassy trail, then cross a cement bridge.
Lake Laura is now on your left. You’ll notice wooden docks as well as more cabins close to the trail. Also, you’ll enjoy more lake views.
The final steps are very enjoyable with so many spots to step out to the lake. Be wary and courteous when it comes to private property, like private docks.
Lake Laura Beach
At the 2.4-mile mark, you will arrive at the fenced-in private grassy beach and beach shack with picnic tables and lounge chairs.
Bring your swimsuit. There are no lifeguards on duty, but the grassy beach area at the lower end of Lake Laura is a swimming beach.
Access to the beach is free for Bryce Resort members and children under three. For everyone else, the fee is $10/person for the whole day.
Plan to enjoy a day of swimming and tubing at Lake Laura. Bring your own tubes or rent one for the day at the Lake Laura Beach Shack for $10/tube.
At Lake Laura, you can also rent canoes, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks for $20/hour. The beach shack rents life jackets for $5/day.
The beach is only a few steps from the start of the hike. The parking area is just down the gravel path. There is also a porta-potty in the parking area.
From the parking area, this hike on the Lake Laura Trail took me one hour, including time spent ogling refreshing lake views.
Before you leave Shenandoah County, pay a visit to the nearby village of Orkney Springs. This charming town boasts a historic hotel and scenic hiking trails.
Also, plan to come back in the winter, not just for hiking but to get on the slopes. If you want to go snowshoeing in Virginia, Bryce Resort is the place.