Maryland has a diverse topography and is hence rightly referred to as ‘America in miniature.’ With over 100 lakes flowing in every part of it, none being natural, it is a paradise for those who love outdoor recreation. Though you won’t get permission to swim or ride motorboats in many, you can enjoy other water activities. Most of them sit in a park or forest reserve area, where you can experience the lush greenery, rolling hills, and a wide range of wildlife alongside the lake’s unspoiled beauty.
Deep Creek Lake, flowing in the Allegany Mountains, is Maryland’s largest inland water body. The lake excels in watersports, from paddling to water-skiing, tubing, to wakeboarding, it has all of it.
The Deep Creek Lake State Park, lying to the lake’s northeast part is well-equipped with a lot of things from campsites to hiking trails, to boat ramps. In addition, nature enthusiasts can head to the Discovery Center within the park premises to garner knowledge about the lake’s surrounding flora and fauna.
Get your cameras ready to click the wildlife such as great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, opossum, chipmunks, raccoons, skunk, and squirrels as you stroll around the lake area.
Fishing: Spend merry time fishing for ]smallmouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, northern pike, largemouth bass, walleye, pumpkinseed sunfish, and yellow perch.
Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, water skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating
Flowing along the North Branch Potomac River, this scenic lake occupies Maryland’s Garrett County and West Virginia’s Mineral County. The glistening water amidst the picturesque hills creates a charm that is sure to leave you speechless.
If you are carrying your picnic baskets along, do walk till the Howell Run Picnic Area for a fun-filled experience. The wonderful backdrop of the lake and greenery that you get from here would for sure give you complete visual retreat. Do not miss out carrying your binocular if you do not wish to miss out sighting the bald eagles that call this lake and its surroundings their home.
For an enjoyable sunbathing session, do make your way to the Shaw Beach about 20-minutes from the lake.
Fishing: The lake has an excellent stock of walleye, trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, saugeye, channel catfish, and white crappie.
Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, kayaking, camping, bird watching, hiking, hunting
Blairs Valley Lake is a part of the Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area, formed during the construction of the Blairs Valley Dam. Dense forests of oak and hardwood trees along with steep hills provide a stunning setting to the lake.
Boat rentals are not available, and gas motors are not permissible. But don’t be disappointed as you can bring your boat and access the lake from the free boat launch. Absorb in the lake’s serene beauty and the charms of the Fairview Mountain in the background.
Fishing: Anglers can expect to catch several fish species like largemouth bass, tiger muskie, bluegill, black crappie, redear sunfish, yellow perch, brown bullhead, and carp.
Other Activities: Swimming, boating, nature gazing, picnicking, wildlife viewing, bird watching
Located within the Rocky Gap State Park in northwestern Maryland, you will find Lake Habeeb nestled against the Evitts Mountains. You will be appalled to see the scenic beauty of the dense hemlock forests lined with rhododendron and mountain linen, as well as the towering cliffs all around.
Its USP lies in its sparkling blue waters, making it the state’s clearest, thus perfectly apt for swimming. You could head towards any of the two beaches to take a plunge. Your dogs could tag along, too, since both have designated sections for your pooches.
Camping at the campgrounds along the lake after a tiring yet eventful day wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
Fishing: You will find an excellent opportunity to fish different fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, and trout.
Other Activities: Swimming, boating, paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, camping, hiking
You will find Loch Raven Reservoir a few miles north of Baltimore. Its unspoiled beauty and the glorious flora and fauna produce an enchanting atmosphere that you will indeed not forget.
You cannot swim or use gas motors in the waters as it serves for drinking purposes for the people of Baltimore. But, don’t worry, you can rent a boat and enjoy the calm waters.
If you love hiking explore the several trails here to get a magnificent view of the lake and meanders through the lush green forests. You would also come across a satisfying numbers of beautiful oaks, maples, poplars, raspberries, and wild roses on your way. Keep your binoculars handy to witness several birds, including ravens, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, and bald eagles.
Fishing: Anglers will find plentiful fish such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, white perch, and walleye.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, hiking, nature gazing, wildlife viewing, biking
Lake Needwood flows on Rock Creek in the eastern part of Montgomery County. Rock Creek Regional Park, a part of the lake, has many recreational amenities to keep you entertained.
If an avid birdwatcher do visit Meadowside Nature Center, where you will see owls, hawks, vultures, and an American bald eagle. In addition, there are many more exciting activities to do here, both for adults and children.
You can also hike the nature trails beside the shoreline and witness the lush greenery along your way.
Swimming and gasoline motors are not permissible due to the detection of blue green algae in its waters, but you can move around the lake in a paddle boat, while admiring its beauty. A 5-minute walk from here would take you to another waterbody Lake Frank.
Fishing: Largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and trout dwell here.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, picnicking, nature gazing, bird watching, hiking, biking
Lake Centennial, a stunning human-made lake, flows in Howard County. The Centennial Park encompassing it, providing a myriad of recreational opportunities. Walk or cycle along the 2.5 miles long paved path to experience the peaceful lake on one side and beautiful native and exotic trees on the other. Each season will give you a different yet splendid view of the place. If you enjoy wildlife watching, then do visit the wildlife sanctuary at the lake’s western end.
Whether you want to picnic, go boating, or watch a lovely sunset, this lake is a perfect place to do so. However, swimming is not permissible here.
Don’t leave your dogs at home. Instead, leash them up and let them enjoy the place to their glory.
Fishing: Stocks of largemouth bass, bluegill, trout, and sunfish are abundant in the lake.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, jogging, picnicking, nature gazing, wildlife viewing
Clopper Lake, located within Seneca Creek State Park, spans 90 acres and has an average of 18 feet of depth. Lush green vegetation abounds the lake, making it look more scenic. You can even see a deer or two peeking from behind the trees now and then.
Boating in the flat water is the best way to spend some peaceful time with nature. However, like many other Maryland lakes, swimming is not permissible here.
You can easily spot an alert blue heron along the shores, waiting patiently to catch a fish or a little turtle that has come to bask in the sun.
Hike along the Lake Shore Trail to get a panoramic view of the lake and its surroundings. You can also explore the other nearby trails for added adventure.
Fishing: The common catches include largemouth bass, tiger muskie, sunfish, channel catfish, bluegill, and pumpkinseed sunfish.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, nature gazing, biking, hunting, horseback riding, cross country skiing, picnicking
Lake Elkhorn, a 37-acre reservoir, flows in the Owen Brown Area of Columbia. A paved path of about 1.7 miles circles the lake where you can walk, hike or cycle. If you bring kids along, don’t worry about their entertainment, as the playground adjacent to the lake will keep them hooked for sure. From different birds to turtles, you will love the sight of wildlife prevailing here.
Fishing: Anglers will have a good time catching many fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, and rainbow trout.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, jogging, picnicking, wildlife watching, nature gazing
Lake Kittamaqundi is a human-made lake in Columbia Town Center. On the lake’s western shore, you will find a boathouse with a wooden pier and a launching ramp. Boat to the Nomanizan Island and enjoy a lazy afternoon there. Many exciting events like the Columbia Lakefront Summer Festival take place here. So don’t miss being a part of it.
A peaceful walk on the one-mile loop, Lake Kittamaqundi pathway that meanders through scenic areas, and Kennedy Gardens are sure to make you feel refreshed.
Fishing: You will be able to catch largemouth bass, common carp, and bluegill mostly.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, nature gazing, picnicking
Lake Bernard Frank, named after the wildlife activist Bernard Frank, is a little reservoir flowing beside Lake Needwood. Rock Creek Regional Park houses both the lakes and provides ample recreational opportunities. A quarter-mile walk from the parking lot will lead you to the secluded lake. Hikers can explore few adventurous trails like the Lakeside Trail and Meadowside Trails meandering through the forests and passing through creeks. Enjoy the serene atmosphere and the picturesque view from the shoreline. In fact, the lake does not permit swimming, boating, ice skating, and other activities that require direct contact with water, primarily because of the algae present there.
Fishing: Largemouth bass, black crappie, and bluegill are available in the lake.
Other Activities: Hiking, biking, rollerblading, picnicking, nature gazing
Triadelphia Reservoir, with an 800-acre area created by the construction of the Brighton Dam, sits on the Patuxent River. It gets its name after the Triadelphia down, majorly washed away by the 1868 flood.
To get your boat on the lake, permission is needed, though motorized or self-powered boats are always allowed. However, the lake prohibits swimming mainly due to the high concentration of blue-green algae present here. Picnicking would be an ideal way to spend time with your family. You may also spot some bald eagles making an occasional visit to the lake.
But, alas! You won’t find any accommodation facilities near the lake, so you perhaps need to alter your plan if you wish to spend the night here.
Fishing: The lake is best for fishing largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, white crappie, bluegill, walleye, and northern pike.
Other Activities: Boating, paddling, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, hunting
Liberty Reservoir flows outside Baltimore and mainly gets its source from the Patapsco River. There are several opportunities for you to see the different bird species here, including warblers, flycatchers, thrushes, woodpeckers, swallows, and many more. Though swimming is a no-no here, you can still enjoy rowing or paddling. Spend a nice relaxing day by the lakeside, hearing the sweet chirping of the birds with no sound of the motorboats to disturb you.
Fishing: The lake provides excellent fishing opportunities for anglers to catch a wide variety of fish, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and white perch.
Other Activities: Boating, birdwatching, hiking, biking, nature watching, picnicking
Little Seneca Lake near Boyds is the main center of attraction in the Black Hill Regional Park. If photography or wild life watching is your passion, you are sure to have a busy time here. For the trekking enthusiasts, there are many paved and unpaved trails to tread along. Just above the lake, you can visit the former gold mine active from the 1850s to 1950s. You will also see an old Water Mill dated back to 1810, right at the end of the Black Mill Trail.
With so many events happening each year, such as twilight programs and summer programs, visiting the place for an incredible experience is a must.
Fishing: Largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and tiger muskie are plentiful in this lake.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, hiking, nature gazing, wildlife watching, biking, horseback riding
Lake Artemesia is an artificial lake found within the Lake Artemesia Natural Area in south-central Maryland. Take a walk or cycle along the 1.3-mile long paved and well-maintained trail around the lake lined by shady trees.
If bird watching is your hobby, hike along the nearby Luther Goldman Birding Trail to catch a glimpse of ibis, orioles, and finches frequenting the place. The lake is equipped with plenty of gazebos and benches. So after a tiring adventure, you perhaps sit there and gaze at the sparkling waters in awe.
Fishing: The lake has a fishing pier to fish for trout, largemouth bass, and bluegills.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, skating, birdwatching, nature gazing
An hour’s drive from Annapolis will bring you to Wheatley Lake. It is a part of Gilbert Run Park and its focal point. To get a breathtaking view of the surrounding rolling hills and greenery, do take a boat ride around the lake. There is ample opportunity for you to view wildlife here. So keep your cameras ready for some excellent clicks. Watch a wide variety of fish species in a 150-gallon aquarium positioned at the Nature Center. In addition, there are many more exciting activities for you near the lake, including picnicking, hiking and so on.
Fishing: Species in the lake include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, black crappie, and rainbow trout. If you fish to buy some fishing supplies go right up to the concession stand lying within the park.
Other Activities: Boating, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, nature gazing, wildlife viewing
Lake Tuckahoe, a 19-acre lake, flows within the Tuckahoe State Park. It mainly features flooded woodlands making it home to several fish. A launch ramp is available from where you can canoe in the calm waters and uncover its beauty. Don’t be surprised if a beaver or muskrat swims past you. In addition, bring your binoculars to get a clear view of a blue heron perching near the shoreline or a bald eagle fly overhead. Kids too can keep themselves engaged in the fun activities the park offers, along with a playground for them to play. To know about the native species of trees and shrubs, walk along the 3 mile long paved paths to Adkins Arboretum, which is within the park’s area.
Fishing: The lake supports several fish species like bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, white and black crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, brown bullhead, and carp.
Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, nature gazing, hiking, picnicking, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, camping
Best Lakes for Fishing: Blairs Valley Lake, Liberty Reservoir, Centenniel Lake
Best Lakes for Swimming: Deep Creek Lake, Lake Habeeb, Blairs Valley Lake
Best Lakes for Vacation: Deep Creek Lake, Jennings Randolph Lake, Centenniel Lake
Best Lakes for Camping: Lake Habeeb, Deep Creek Lake, Jennings Randolph Lake
Best Lakes for Boating: Clopper Lake, Wheatley Lake, Deep Creek Lake
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