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. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Greenbrier State Park
2.Big Pool Lake
4.Deep Creek Lake
5.Youghiogheny River Lake
6.Herrington Manor State Park
7.Hunting Creek Lake
12.Little Seneca Lake
13.Loch Raven Reservoir
15 Best Maryland Lakes
- Greenbrier State Park, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- Big Pool Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Michael Mihin - Fotolia.com
- Centennial Lake, Photo: Courtesy of beerlogoff - Fotolia.com
- Deep Creek Lake, Photo: Courtesy of walt1957 - Fotolia.com
- Youghiogheny River Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Keifer - Fotolia.com
- Herrington Manor State Park, Photo: Courtesy of flownaksala - Fotolia.com
- Hunting Creek Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Azaliya (Elya Vatel) - Fotolia.com
- Lake Artemesia, Photo: Courtesy of flownaksala - Fotolia.com
- Lake Habeeb, Photo: Courtesy of Subtropicals - Fotolia.com
- Lake Needwood, Photo: Courtesy of 2207918 - Fotolia.com
- Liberty Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of tauhavladi - Fotolia.com
- Little Seneca Lake, Photo: Courtesy of xascanio - Fotolia.com
- Loch Raven Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Prettyboy Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Tuckahoe Creek, Photo: Courtesy of Subtropicals - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
More Ideas in MD: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (commonly called the C&O Canal) in Maryland, features over 180 miles of fun and adventure. Make sure to check out the variety of fun opportunities - boat rides, hiking, biking - as well as hitting a visitor center for information on the history of the canal. The canal has been in operation for around 100 years, and was originally built as a way to connect the communities that existed on the Potomac River as they traded lumber, agricultural products, and coal.
Over time, the canal found itself in the center of transportation’s race towards technology, leading to a decline in the communities along the canal with newer options for transporting materials making the need for the canal basically obsolete. It now exists only for nature, education, and recreation as it is no longer used as a transportation canal.
Visitor Center - As the canal encompasses a large area, there are multiple visitor centers along the path. Most are open seasonal hours and dates, although some are open all year round. The visitor centers exist to provide guests with information about the canal, overviews of hiking trails, and other history. It is highly recommended for guests to check at least one out during their journey.
Boat Rides - Take a ride in one of the canal boats designed as replicas of some of the originals that graced the canal years ago. The boats are mule driven, just like they were in the mid to late 1800s. The period clothed park rangers describe life back then as well. Canal boat tours last around an hour and have a capacity of 65 people on a first come first serve basis (reservations can be made for groups of more than 10). There is a fee associated, with discounts for seniors and children (children under 3 ride for free).
Billy Goat Trail - One of the most fun (and challenging) hiking opportunities along the canal is the Billy Goat Trail. This trail is divided into three different segments with beautiful scenery around the Great Falls area. The sections all involve varying degrees of rock climbing, so hikers must plan ahead and wear appropriate shoes. Be aware that the river is dangerous so wading, swimming, etc is strictly prohibited for safety reasons (fines will apply). Dogs are also only allowed on part B and C of the trail. Section A is the most challenging and it is also recommended that guests bring plenty of water as the dehydration risk is very real.
Hiking - Besides the challenging Billy Goat, the C&O Canal has many other hiking trails that are more accessible for beginning hikers. There are maps available online as well as at the visitor’s center.
Biking - Make sure to check ahead for accessibility for biking, as it is only allowed on the towpath due to its harder surface. Bike rental is available as well. Pay attention to restrictions that apply: speed limit of 15 MPH, single file riding, bikes must stay on the right and yield to mules, horses, and pedestrians, and bicyclists must make people aware that they are coming.
National Parks make great learning opportunities and three different sites on the C&O Canal provide field trip opportunities. The education programs offered are curriculum based and have been developed with the help of local teachers to focus on STEM based subjects. They were created to make sure to align with Maryland state educational standards. They are offered in the spring and in the fall. Contact the canal at their dedicated education line for reservations and additional information. For classrooms that are unable to make it out, there are also options for lessons that can be done in school. These lessons involve a park ranger coming to the school (which makes for a lively and interactive experience for students) and are available in the winter. Teachers should make sure to check out the large curriculum section on the parks website which feature an up to date compendium of the many learning opportunities offered in detail.
There are bookstores offered in many of the visitor’s centers along the C&O Canal. Their hours and open days vary by location, so check with the specific bookstore prior to a visit to verify. All bookstores are operated by Eastern National and a portion of the proceeds goes back into maintaining the canal and park.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD, 21740, Phone: 301-739-4200
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More Ideas in MD: The Capital Wheel
The Capital Wheel opened to the public on May 23 of 2014 at National Harbor in Maryland. This giant ferris wheel is situated just outside of Washington, D.C. Using the Roue de Paris as inspiration, the ferris wheel idea was conceived by Milton Peterson, a developer in National Harbor. It sits on a pier with a length of 770 feet, extending out over the Potomac River. The Capital Wheel can easily be seen by passenger aboard flights from or to National Airport.
The Capital Wheel ferris wheel features a diameter of 165 feets, and transports forty-two climate-controlled gondolas in a circle. Each gondola can fit up to eight passengers. A VIP gondola can even be rented for celebrations and weddings. The giant wheel also features programmable special-effects lighting. As passengers soar up to 180 feet in the sky above the ground, they can take in the unmatched views of the surrounding sights, including Prince George’s County, lush parks throughout the region, the Masonic Temple, the National Cathedral, and the City of Alexandria.
Similar to London, England’s London Eye, the Capital Wheel of National Harbor offers visitors a new, more exciting way to see the capital of the country. The observation ferris wheel transports passengers 180 feet above the ground, over the Potomac River and the National Harbor. The wheel provides views of many of the signature attractions of Washington, D.C., such as the Capitol Building, Arlington Cemetery, the National Mall, and much more. Guests also get amazing views of the National Harbor Boardwalk, as well as views of the Washington Monument and the Masonic Temple of Alexandria, Virginia.
A full rotation of the Capital Wheel in National Harbor takes approximately two minutes in duration, and each ride on the ferris wheel consists of a few rotations. Six gondolas of the wheel can be loaded at once, meaning passengers won’t have to deal with that much starting and stopping once they are onboard their gondola. Each one of the gondolas of the Capital Wheel is air-conditioned and allow passengers to freely enjoy the ride either standing or sitting. The gondolas also feature two-way communication in case something happens or passengers need to talk to an attendant on the ground below. Guests can also enjoy music during their ride from the onboard speakers, and even have their own little dance party in the sky if they so wish.
The newest feature of the Capital Wheel is the outdoor lounge area known as the Flight Deck. The new lounge offers both passengers of the ferris wheel, and those just visiting the National Harbor Boardwalk a variety of drinks, including wine, beer, speciality drinks, and champagne. The outdoor lounge is great for a drink with friends, date night, or a celebration. People can also enjoy a drink as they take a ride aboard the Capital Wheel, taking happy hour to a new height. The Flight Deck offers a commemorative cup just for the occasion. Passengers are sure to love enjoying a drink while taking in the amazing views of the Potomac River and the sights of the Washington, D.C. area.
141 American Way, National Harbor, Maryland, Phone: 301-842-8650
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More Ideas in MD: Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
The Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, MD, occupies over 500 acres along the scenic Patuxent River. Here, over 65 archeological sites document close to 12,000 years of human history. The visitor center at the park and museum houses the Discovery Room, in which children can play with colonial toys, dress up in colonial costumes, and participate in interactive educational games, such as matching birds with their nests. Permanent Collection
Exhibit galleries at the visitor center display artifacts in exhibits that educate guests on the history of the site, each county in Maryland, and the people who have lived there. FAQ Archeology is an interactive exhibit that highlights the site’s archeological discoveries. The Louis L. Goldstein Gallery recreates the office of Goldstein, who was the longest-serving elected state official in Maryland, having served 10 terms as state comptroller. The Pattersons exhibit traces the history of the Patterson family and their life on Point Farm through photographs, artifacts, and displays. The visitor center itself was once a show barn for Black Angus cattle, and has been renovated to host the galleries, gift shop, and a theater. Additional exhibits are housed in the Exhibit Barn. Farmers, Patriots, and Traitors displays the history of the War of 1812 from several points of view. A short film in the exhibit is accompanied by artifacts such as historical uniforms, muskets, and antique farm equipment.
A variety of hiking trails are located throughout the park. Interpretive signage lines each pathway and educates visitors on local flora and fauna as well as the history of the area. Hikes take guests alongside the Patuxent River, and past several archeological sites. The War of 1812 trail leads to the mouth of the St. Leonard Creek, where one of the war’s significant battles occurred. A free canoe and kayak launch allows guests to explore the St. Leonard Creek in their own vessels. The Village Trail is ADA accessible and takes guests to a recreation of a Woodland Indian village. The Point Trail ends at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, or MAC Lab, which is a state-of-the-art archeological conservation and research facility run in partnership with the park and museum and southern Maryland’s State Museum of Archaeology. The lab hosts several archeological exhibits.
The Patterson home and farm was donated to the state of Maryland in 1983 by Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson. The donation was the largest gift of land ever received by the state, and spans one of the most important archeological sites in the Chesapeake Bay region. Museum archeologists have explored less than one percent of the property’s potential sites. Archeological finds date back to 7500 BC and trace a timeline of occupation by Native American tribes as far back as 12,000 years ago, up through colonial times with the arrival of Europeans in the 1600s. The farm was purchased by U.S. Diplomat Jefferson Patterson in the 1930s, who named it Point Farm. He raised black Angus cattle on the farm and married journalist and filmmaker Mary Marvin Breckinridge in 1940. After Jefferson’s death in 1977, Mary had the site surveyed by archeologists when a tenant found an Indian artifact. In honor of her husband and his love for Point Farm, she decided to donate the site and assisted in the development of the MAC Lab, Exhibit Barn, and visitor center. Mary passed in 2002. Today, the site is managed by the Maryland Historical Trust and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Guided tours at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum are available for the grounds as well as the MAC Lab. The Patterson House, a colonial revival brick home built in 1933, is closed to tours due to renovations through 2021. Self-guided audio tours are available via cell phone for many of the hiking trails, while two themed audio tours begin at the visitor center. One explores the history of the War of 1812, the other the lives and culture of colonial residents.
Workshops focus on teaching the skills and crafts of those living in the area in the 1800s. Classes include hide tanning, basket weaving, soap and candle making, yarn dying with natural dyes, clay pot firing, and fire making without matches. Annual events include the family-friendly Discovering Archeology Day in April. June offers Children’s Day on the Farm as well as the Patuxent River Wade In. American Indian Heritage Day takes place each November.
10515 Mackall Road, St. Leonard, MD 20685, Phone: 410-586-8501
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