15 Best Maryland Lakes

Located between the Allegheny Mountains and the Eastern Shore, Maryland has more than 100 lakes. All of them are man-made, intended as water reservoirs, with many of them being formed after the damming of a nearby river or creek. The largest lake is 4,000-acre Deep Creek Lake, but most are smaller. Very few are swimming lakes but all are well-stocked with fish. To preserve the cleanliness of the lakes and to ensure quiet relaxation, no gas-powered boats are allowed. Many lakes are located in parks, providing a natural focus for the recreation, adding to the beauty of the landscape, and a providing habitat for local wildlife. Photo: jonbilous/Fotolia


»Greenbrier State Park

Greenbrier State Park


Greenbrier is a popular park in the Appalachian Mountains, with a scenic 42-acre man-made lake. The lake has a small yet pleasant beach and is popular with swimmers, boaters, and fishermen. There are numerous hiking trails through the park and hikers can enjoy spotting many species of birds and wildlife. The picnic area has tables, benches, and barbecues as well as kids’ playgrounds. Swimming is safe and there is a lifeguard on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The lake is well-stocked with largemouth bass, trout, and bluegill. Electric boats and paddleboats are allowed on the lake. For those interested in hiking, the Appalachian Trail enters the park on Bartman's Hill.

21843 National Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: schankz/Fotolia

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»Big Pool Lake

Big Pool Lake


Bordering the Potomac River, Fort Frederick State Park has a lot to offer visitors. The 585-acre park features a very well-preserved stone fort that played an important role during the French and Indian War in 1758. For those who prefer natural attractions, there is Big Pool Lake, a natural depression created and filled with water after the construction of the C&O Canal. The lake is great fun for boaters, as long as they do not use gas. There is a boat ramp, also used by kayakers and canoes. Fishermen love Big Pool Lake, which is known for largemouth bass, carp, bluegill, catfish, and many other fish species. There are many hiking trails crossing the park or winding around the lake. One of the most popular is the 3-mile long Beaver Pond Trail, which passes by the wetlands. Hikers can spot birds, turtles, white-tailed deer, and many other animals.

11100 Fort Frederick Rd, Big Pool, MD 21711 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: Michael Mihin/Fotolia

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»Centennial Lake

Centennial Lake


Centennial Lake is a 54-acre scenic man-made reservoir located in the 325-acre Centennial Park near Columbia, Maryland. The lake formed as the result of damming the Little Patuxent River. To the delight of fishermen, in 1985 the Maryland Department of Natural Resources stocked Centennial Lake with largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and bluegill sunfish. The lake is normally clear except after storms, although there are algae blooms, which are caused by agricultural run-off. Invasive submerged vegetation is another problem. The lake is relatively shallow with average depth of 10.2 feet and there are a few coves that are even shallower. The lake is surrounded by a paved trail, providing access to the lake and offering a lovely hiking path. There is a boat ramp that is accessible from March to November. The west end of the lake is a wildlife sanctuary and is off-limits to fishing.

10000 Md-108, Ellicott City, MD 21042 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: beerlogoff/Fotolia

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»Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake is a 3,900-acre lake near Oakland, Maryland. It has 69 miles of shoreline and is the largest of Maryland’s inland bodies of water. The lake is man-made and is the result of the construction of a hydroelectric project on Deep Creek that was completed in the 1920s. The lake is part of Deep Creek Lake State Park and is home to a wide variety of freshwater fish and aquatic birds. It is fishermen’s delight, with plenty of trout, bass, walleye, and yellow perch. There is a boat launch for motorized vessels. About 1 mile of the lake shore is located within the park and there is a nice, small beach and picnic areas. The Wisp Ski Resort is also located nearby.

898 State Park Rd, Oakland, MD 21561 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: walt1957/Fotolia

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»Youghiogheny River Lake

Youghiogheny River Lake


Youghiogheny Rive Lake is a man-made lake created by damming the Youghiogheny River near Confluence, Pennsylvania. The lake spans the Mason-Dixon line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, with a maximum depth of 121 feet and an average depth of 54 feet. The lake is surrounded by mountains and deep valleys and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and enjoying the outdoors. Backwater areas around the lake are full of fish, and anglers consider it a hotspot for smallmouth bass and walleye, while the waters around the dam are rich with trout. The lake and the river are both very popular with boaters. For about 20 miles from the dam, kayakers and canoers can enjoy clear waters and scenic banks.

497 Flanigan Rd, Confluence, PA 15424 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: Kenneth Keifer/Fotolia

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»Herrington Manor State Park

Herrington Manor State Park


Herrington Manor State Park is a 365-acre park located in Garrett State Forest. It was created in 1964, and contains a 53-acre lake that was formed by damming Herrington Creek. Ten wooden cabins were added on a forested knoll above the lake and 20 more have been added since. The visitors to the park enjoy swimming, kayaking and canoeing on the lake, picnicking, hiking, and playing tennis and volleyball. The lake has a boat ramp, but no gas-powered boats are allowed. There is a lifeguard on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day. More than 12 miles of hiking trails run through the forest and around the lake.

222 Herrington Ln, Oakland, MD 21550 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: flownaksala/Fotolia

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»Hunting Creek Lake

Hunting Creek Lake


Cunningham Falls State Park is located in the scenic Catoctin Mountains, about 3 miles from Thurmont. Most of activities in the park revolve around lovely Hunting Creek Lake. Visitors enjoy swimming, fishing and canoeing on the lake, and hiking through the park or on the lake banks. There are several campsites and cabins for longer stays. Swimming is permitted in three areas of the lake, and there is lifeguard on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Fishermen come to the lake for bass, bluegill, crappie, sunfish, and catfish, and there is a fishing pier is located next to the boat ramp just off Catoctin Hollow Road. Hiking through the park is fun and the trails vary from easy to steep, rocky, and challenging.

Hunting Creek Lake, Maryland 21788 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: Azaliya (Elya Vatel)/Fotolia

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»Lake Artemesia

Lake Artemesia


Lake Artemesia is a 38-acre man-made lake in College Park and Berwyn Heights in the Lake Artemesia Natural Area, between Indian Run Creek and Paint Branch Creek. The lake was constructed as the result of the completion of the Washington Metro Green Line, which today runs alongside the lake. While the metro runs along one bank of the lake, the other bank is forested and the Indian Run Creek runs through it. The lake is stocked with trout. There is a popular 1.3-mile paved trail around the lake, used for walking, hiking, running, biking, and in-line skating. The trail is surrounded by shady trees and the area is full of birds, such as ibis, orioles, and finches. All trails near the park are part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System.

Berwyn Rd And 55th Ave Berwyn Heights, MD 20740 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: flownaksala/Fotolia

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»Lake Habeeb

Lake Habeeb


Rocky Gap State Park is a 3,000-acre public park located in Western Maryland’s Allegany County, surrounded by rugged mountains with the 243-acre Lake Habeeb at its heart. The lake is supplied by water of the Rocky Gap Run, as it runs through a mile-long gorge, past sheer cliffs and overlooks, surrounded by a hemlock forest, dense rhododendron bushes, and mountain laurel. The lake is popular with boaters using electric motors as well as kayakers and canoers. There is a public boat ramp off Pleasant Valley Road. The lake is stocked with trout, panfish, catfish, and largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Cumberland, MD 21530 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: Subtropicals/Fotolia

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»Lake Needwood

Lake Needwood


Lake Needwood is a 75-acre lake within Rock Creek Regional Park, just outside Rockville, Maryland, with an average depth of only 8 feet. The lake was created in 1965 along Rock Creek, when a dam was built on the creek to assist in flood control and storm water run-off. Rock Creek Regional Park was built around the lake. Swimming is not allowed in the lake but boating is very popular and there is a concession where visitors can rent kayaks or canoes or join a tour of the lake. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and trout. The parkland around the lake offers picnic areas, a kids’ playground, an archery range, a snack bar, a golf course, and a network of hiking and biking trails. The Meadowside Nature Center has a range of interesting exhibits, including an aviary with live birds such owls, hawks, and an American bald eagle.

15700 Needwood Lake Circle, Lake Needwood Boat House, Rockville, MD 20855 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: 2207918/Fotolia

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»Liberty Reservoir

Liberty Reservoir


Liberty Lake, also called Liberty Reservoir, is located in the Patapsco region in Maryland's Baltimore suburbs. Because the reservoir supplies water to the Baltimore suburbs, only rowing, paddling, or battery-powered motors are allowed, which is good news for the fish. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, smallmouth bass, crappie, and white perch. The area around the lake is a habitat for a number of wildlife species, such as white-tailed deer, rabbit, wild turkey, squirrel, and many songbirds, as well as 39 rare and endangered plant species. It is also very popular for bird watching, hiking, and nature photography.

5685 Oakland Rd, Eldersburg, MD 21784 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: tauhavladi/Fotolia

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»Little Seneca Lake

Little Seneca Lake


Little Seneca Lake is located near Boyds, Maryland, and covers about one third of Black Hill Regional Park. The lake was created in 1985 after a drought hit the Washington, D.C., area. The lake is the emergency source of water for Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and serves many other commercial purposes, but is best known as great place to go fishing, kayaking, or bird watching. It is well-stocked with largemouth bass, tiger muskie, bluegill, and channel catfish. There is a network of hiking and biking trails that are also open to horseback riders. Camping is not allowed in Black Hill Regional Park. 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: xascanio/Fotolia

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»Loch Raven Reservoir

Loch Raven Reservoir


The Loch Raven Reservoir, located a few miles from Baltimore, is an unspoiled man-made lake surrounded by dense forests and intersected by a network of hiking trails. The lake was created in 1881 after a dam and water tunnel were built to channel water to Lake Clifton and Lake Montebello, which are located nearby. In time, Loch Raven Reservoir became a cool, fresh place to spend hot summer weekends. It has a network of trails, several picnic areas, a skeet shooting range, and rich stocks of fish such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, and yellow perch. No gas-powered boats are allowed. The lakeside Providence Road and Morgan Mill Road are closed to traffic on weekends, allowing runners, walkers, bikers, and rollerbladers to enjoy the smooth asphalt surface and spectacular views of the lake. Swimming is not allowed in the reservoir.

Morgan Mill Rd & Loch Raven Dr, Baltimore, MD 2105 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: jonbilous/Fotolia

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»Prettyboy Reservoir

Prettyboy Reservoir


Prettyboy Reservoir is a 1,500-acre man-made lake in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. It was created after building the Prettyboy Dam on the Gunpowder River in 1932. It is one of three reservoirs built to improve the Metropolitan Baltimore supply with water. The area in which the lake was created is sparsely populated and is strictly zoned to prevent development. The lake is a fishermen’s delight, well-stocked with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, brown and rainbow trout, white perch, and striped bass. Swimming is not permitted in Prettyboy Reservoir, but boating is allowed. Surrounded with dense forests, the area around the reservoir is full of wildlife and provides exceptionally scenic hike and paddling. It is common to spot white-tailed deer, rabbit, wild turkey, and many species of songbirds. Hiking through the area on the network of trails is very popular; these trails are also open to horseback riding.

Beckleysville Rd, Hampstead, MD 21074 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: jonbilous/Fotolia

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»Tuckahoe Creek

Tuckahoe Creek


Tuckahoe Creek is a small country creek surrounded by lush wooded marshlands located in Tuckahoe State Park on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In the heart of the park is also a 60-acre lake, very popular among fishermen and boaters. The park has a network of 20 miles of scenic hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. There are also two picnic areas, kids playgrounds made of recycled tires, and 54 camping sites. There are also eight cabins for rent. The park is popular for the range of activities it organizes for children, such as canoe trips, day camps, and various presentations. The 500-acre Adkins Arboretum is located within the park and offers a range of native tagged species of trees and shrubs and 3 miles of paved walkways. Gas-powered motorboats are not allowed on the lake, but canoeing is a delight and it is not uncommon to see beavers and muskrats swimming past.

12328 Ridgefield Pkwy, Richmond, VA 23233 15 Best Maryland Lakes - Photo: Subtropicals/Fotolia

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15 Best Maryland Lakes