Pickerel Lake Recreation Area

Quick Facts

Pickerel Lake Recreation Area

South Dakota

(605) 486-4753

Map Directions

Things To Do


Noted for its cool, spring-fed waters, Pickerel Lake is one of the deepest natural lakes in the state. The 955-acre lake bears an American Indian name that translates to "where you spear long fish." Glaciers created the lake and shaped the surrounding landscape. Excursion boats were a common sight on the lake until the early 1900s. In 1929, a fish hatchery was built by the lake. It was abandoned in 1979, when a new facility was built at Blue Dog Lake.

Pickerel Lake offers two campgrounds and access to excellent fishing waters. The swimming beaches are popular spots during hot summer days. A hiking trail in each campground introduces visitors to the park's many plants and animals. The trails are called the Ponderosa Trail and the Glacial Mounds Trail. The trails provide opportunities to see native prairie that has never been plowed, views of the lake, and groves of ponderosa pine trees.

Map of Pickerel Lake Rec. Area (SD)

Latitude, Longitude: 45.502758, -97.285207



  • Boating

    Two boat ramps provide access to the lake. Visitors can rent canoes.

  • Camping

    Pickerel Lake offers 73 campsites in two campgrounds. There are also five cabins (each sleeps four people).

  • Fishing

    With a license, visitors can catch walleye, northern pike, crappie, perch, and bass. There is an accessible fishing dock and a fish cleaning station.

  • Hiking

    There are two trails in the park: the Ponderosa Trail and the Glacial Mounds Trail. The Glacial Mounds Trail, 0.75 miles long, is named because glaciers formed the lake and the surrounding countryside. A walk on the Glacial Mounds trail shows several examples of how the glaciers formed the landscape of this area. The first part of the walk passes through native prairie. It was never plowed because it is very steep and rocky. The trail leads to the top of a hill with a beautiful view of the lake. This is a great place to come in the fall and see the trees with different colors in contrast to the blue of the lake. To the south, a little knoll sticking out from some hills can be seen. That is the highest point in Day County. The benches and granite monument are a tribute to some of the early cabin owners on the lake.

    The Ponderosa Trail is one mile long. The trail surrounds visitors with the sights, sounds, and smells of pine trees. These trees were planted in the 1950s shortly after the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks acquired the land. This trail also passes by a couple sloughs or potholes. Depending on the year, these areas will be full of water and wildlife or they will be dry and full of cattails.

  • Picnicking

    There is a picnic shelter on the west side of the park.

  • RVing

    RVs are welcome in the campground.

  • Water Sports

    There are two swimming beaches but no lifeguard.


The park is open year-round. The swimming beaches are popular spots during hot summer days. The Glacial Mounds Trail provides a beautiful view of the lake and fall foliage.



Located 10 miles N of Waubay off US Hwy. 12.

Phone Numbers


(605) 486-4753

Campground reservations

(800) 710-2267