After being emptied for several years; Leaser Lake is back. Located in Lynn Township near New Tripoli in northwestern Lehigh County the lake re-opened this past spring after being drained in 2008-09 in order to rebuild the dam and spillway. The $3.5 million project which began in the fall of 2010 was completed in June of 2012, when the lake slowly began to fill.
Water levels at the lake are slowly rising as planned and are still about 5 feet below the normal pool. The present depth of the lake at the dam as of late June is around 47 feet. When the lake depth reaches 52 feet by this November it will be full, covering 117-acres with 4.6 miles of shoreline.
Leaser Lake was built by the PFBC in 1971, but shortly after the lake was filled seepage through the earthen dam was observed. Erosion from this continuous seepage had created voids in the dam and undermined the spillway. In 1991, concerns over seepage through the earthen dam prompted the PFBC to drain the lake for repairs. Unfortunately, those repairs were insufficient and in 1999 the lake’s water level was lowered by 20 feet to minimize the risk of a dam failure.
The lake does feature two separate boat ramps, and a third parking area providing access to the lake and the spillway. Although the lake has reopened, since it is not yet at its full level trailered boats cannot be launched at this time; but car-top boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched. Only boats with electric motors and non-powered boats are allowed.
Also, shoreline fishing is available, though the lake is only open to trout fishing. All species, except trout, are catch and release. It is unlawful to take, kill or possess any fish, except trout. All fish caught, other than trout, must immediately be returned unharmed. This regulation will remain in effect until June 18, 2016. Signage is missing by the PFBC alerting fishermen about these rules but they are still in effect.
It is an excellent place to go for a paddle, as is evident by the number of kayakers seen on the lake recently and especially now with the limited number of fishermen and the large volume of trees being submerged in the water of the lake. Some of those trees are over a decade old. You can easily spend 2-3 hours paddling around the lake exploring all the coves and paddling through the flooded trees. Also, you can paddle all the way to the new spillway, a magnificent structure.
One important note: it is a PFBC lake; therefore, some type of boat registration is needed for all kinds of boats, including kayaks and canoes. (Unpowered boats using Commission lakes and access areas must be registered OR display a Commission use permit OR display a State Parks launch or mooring permit.) Plus, PFD’s are mandatory whether you decide to wear one or not.
The scenery is great with Blue Mountain visible to the north of the lake, where the Appalachian Trail, state game lands and the famous Hawk Mountain are located, all within several miles. There is also, plenty of wildlife in and around the lake. You’ll hear frogs, see dragonflies and butterflies and if lucky see an occasional deer or fox or even a black bear.
Bird viewing is also excellent with numerous species available and with occasional hawks soaring down from the mountain. Blackbirds, including red-winged ones are numerous along the shores edge. Flycatchers, swallows, Eastern Kingbirds, cardinals, Gray Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Great Blue and Green Herons are all visible. Various ducks can be seen with little or no geese available. Hopefully, the geese will stay away!
There are also several trails around the lake, which can be used for bird watching throughout the year. Some of them can become overgrown by summer.
The lake is named after Frederick Leaser, an American patriot who transported the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to Allentown in 1777 for protection during the Revolutionary War. His home was about a mile from the lake.
Leaser Lake is owned by the Commonwealth, managed by the PFBC and is part of the Lehigh County Park System. The lake and surrounding state and county land cover approximately 536 acres. Picnic facilities and restrooms are located adjacent to each of the parking lots. Swimming is not allowed! This facility is opened daily to the public from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
PFBC biologists plan to restore the lake’s fishery over the next several years by stocking fingerlings from various warm-water species, like bass, crappie, blue-gills and yellow perch; allowing those fish to grow over the next several years into a sustainable fishery.
The PFBC constructed and installed various structures which will help restore the fishery by providing cover for various game fish, panfish and forage fish. Many of these structures are still visible along shorelines as water levels rise.
To reach Leaser Lake from Allentown, go north on Route 309. About a mile past Northwestern Lehigh High School, turn left onto Route 143 South. Go for 4.7 miles and turn right at Ontelaunee Road for the North Boat Launch, or continue a little further and turn right onto Pleasure Court for the East Side Boat Launch, or continue a little farther and turn right onto Leaser Road then right onto Follweiler Court.