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.

1. Greenbrier State Park

Greenbrier State Park
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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, Maryland 21713

2. Big Pool Lake

Big Pool Lake
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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, Maryland 21711

3. Centennial Lake, Maryland

Centennial Lake, Maryland
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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

4. Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
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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

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5. Youghiogheny River Lake, Maryland

Youghiogheny River Lake, Maryland
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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.

6. Herrington Manor State Park, MD

Herrington Manor State Park, MD
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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

7. Hunting Creek Lake, Maryland

Hunting Creek Lake, Maryland
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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

8. Lake Artemesia, MD

Lake Artemesia, MD
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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

9. Lake Habeeb, Maryland

Lake Habeeb, Maryland
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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

10. Lake Needwood, Maryland

Lake Needwood, Maryland
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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

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11. Liberty Reservoir, Maryland

Liberty Reservoir, Maryland
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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

12. Little Seneca Lake, MD

Little Seneca Lake, MD
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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.

13. MD Lakes: Loch Raven Reservoir

MD Lakes: Loch Raven Reservoir
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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

14. Maryland Lakes, Prettyboy Reservoir

Maryland Lakes, Prettyboy Reservoir
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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. Tuckahoe Creek, Maryland

Tuckahoe Creek, Maryland
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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.

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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.

Permanent Attractions

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.

Educational Opportunities

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

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

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