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11 Popular Recreational Lakes near Baltimore, MD

Although the selection of lakes around Baltimore is big, most of the options restrict gas boating and water contact activities like swimming. Instead, fishing, paddling, and hiking are the most popular activities.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Baltimore MD

The selection of lakes surrounding Baltimore is large. However, many of the options are water supply reservoirs that restrict gas boating and water contact activities like swimming.

Still, there are options that are quiet and perfectly suited for fishing, kayaking, and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city.

The most versatile choice on the list is Lake Marburg in Pennsylvania, 40 miles from Baltimore. It allows camping and boating (up to 20hp) and has a swimming pool for cooling off in summer.

Discover the rest of the options and learn more about the Baltimore area!

Lakes near Baltimore:

  1. Loch Raven Reservoir
  2. Lake Roland
  3. Liberty Reservoir
  4. Piney Run Lake
  5. Triadelphia Reservoir
  6. Centennial Lake
  7. Rocky Gorge Reservoir
  8. Prettyboy Reservoir
  9. Lake Marburg
  10. Lake Elkhorn
  11. Wilde Lake
Lakes near Baltimore Maryland Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Loch Raven Reservoir

Loch Raven Reservoir Maryland
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Loch Raven Reservoir
  • Distance from Baltimore: 15 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Located 15 miles north of downtown Baltimore, Loch Raven Reservoir serves as one of three reservoirs that provide drinking water for the City of Baltimore and the County of Baltimore. 

The original impoundment of Big Gunpowder Falls River occurred in 1881, with a new dam constructed in 1914 that submerged a former settlement known as Warren. 

The Gunpowder River is the outflow for any water not removed by the utility.

This 1,600-acre reservoir also provides recreation opportunities. The Loch Raven Reservoir Cooperative Wildlife Management Area offers visitors a chance to enjoy hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, boating, fishing, archery, rowing, paddle boating, and nature photography. 

Swimming and other types of direct water contact are not permitted at Loch Raven Reservoir.

Amenities include boat ramps, boat rentals, shoreline fishing, and picnic areas. The Loch Raven Fishing Center provides rental opportunities for canoes and small boats. 

Those who fish in Loch Raven Reservoir will find an abundant number of fish. 

Species commonly found here include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, northern pike, black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, and walleye. 

The state record white perch, weighing 1.9 lbs., was caught here in 2017. 

2. Lake Roland

Lake Roland in Baltimore
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Roland
  • Distance from Baltimore: 8 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Eight miles north of downtown, Lake Roland was created in the late 1850s, where Gunpowder works existed in the early 1800s. 

The City of Baltimore acquired the water rights of the area in 1857, and construction of the impoundment began the following year. 

Water began to fill Lake Roland in 1861 from Jones Falls and Roland Run so it could serve as an early city water supply. 

By the late 1800s, officials looked into impounding the Gunpowder River as a better source. 

Lake Roland is presently a 100-acre body of water within Baltimore County, north of the city. The lake and the park surrounding it are popular recreation destinations. 

The Lake Roland Historic District, formed in 1992, includes the lake, park, and sections of the Roland Run and Jones Fall streambeds.

Those who fish in Lake Roland will find largemouth bass as this body of water’s most prominent species. 

Other fish found in this reservoir include carp, spotted bass, pumpkinseed, and smallmouth bass. 

3. Liberty Reservoir

Liberty Reservoir in Maryland
Source: wikimedia/CC BY 4.0
  • Website: Liberty Reservoir
  • Distance from Baltimore: 19 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Approximately 19 miles northwest of Baltimore, Liberty Reservoir was created in an area where the town of Oakland Mill once existed. 

Plans to build a reservoir took shape in the 1940s, with crews cutting low-lying timber before the end of the decade. 

People were moved from the area in 1951, as workers made plans to create an impoundment along the North Branch of the Patapsco River and other smaller tributaries. 

The Liberty Dam was completed in 1954, and a 9,200-acre reservoir took shape as water filled the area. 

Liberty Reservoir provides water to the City of Baltimore through a 12.7-mile pipeline that uses gravity to channel the flow into a treatment plant. 

In addition to serving this important purpose, the reservoir offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy hiking, boating, bird watching, and fishing. 

Since this reservoir provides drinking water, swimming and other direct body contact are not permitted.

Anglers who come here will find an environment that is welcoming to cold, cool, and warmer water fish. Species found here include bluegill, crappie, white perch, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. 

Maryland state records for smallmouth bass, weighing 8.2 lbs., and striped bass, weighing 47.1 lbs., were caught here in 1974 and 2000, respectively. 

4. Piney Run Lake

  • Website: Piney Run Lake
  • Distance from Baltimore: 27 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Piney Run Lake is located 27 miles west of Baltimore, in the Eldersburg area. 

This 300-acre body of water in southern Carroll County took shape after crews impounded a section of Piney Run in 1974. 

Alongside the reservoir, the county developed Piney Run Park, its oldest developed park, during the same year. Popular activities in this forested, 550-acre area include hiking, visiting playgrounds, picnicking, fishing, and boating.

Outdoor nature activities are important for visitors. The Piney Run Park Nature Center provides year-round educational programs for organized groups and schools. 

Fishing is very popular at Piney Run Lake. Shore fishing is common, with floating piers and fishing platforms also available. 

Boats without gasoline engines are permitted. Seasonal rental of canoes and kayaks is also available. 

Piney Run Reservoir is considered one of the best fisheries in Maryland. Yellow perch, channel catfish, black crappie, redear sunfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass are frequently caught in this reservoir.

5. Triadelphia Reservoir

Triadelphia lake in fall. Maryland
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Triadelphia Reservoir
  • Distance from Baltimore: 27 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Picnics

A little more than 25 miles west-southwest of downtown, Triadelphia Reservoir took shape in 1943 with the construction of the Brighton Dam. 

This structure created an 800-acre reservoir along the Patuxent River that offers great opportunities for fishing and non-motorized boating. 

Managed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, this body of water has developed a reputation as a location for anglers to cast their lines, as well as for hiking and picnicking. 

The Patuxent River Trail passes through this area, offering one of the best kayaking adventures in the state.

A popular site near the reservoir is the Brighton Dam Azalea Garden. Created in 1959, this five-acre tract has more than 22,000 azalea bushes, along with dogwood trees. 

Visitors can enjoy seasonal blooms in early May in a beautiful setting. Bald eagle sightings are known to occur in the area around the reservoir, including these gardens. 

Fishing is a popular activity at Triadelphia Reservoir. Anglers will find a wide variety of species here, including northern pike, bass, channel catfish, yellow perch, bluegill, walleye, muskellunge, and white crappie. 

6. Centennial Lake

A pair of fisherman in a boat on a quiet lake at sunrise, at Centennial Lake in Columbia Maryland
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Centennial Lake
  • Distance from Baltimore: 20 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Centennial Lake sits a little more than 18 miles south-southwest of central Baltimore. 

Surrounded by Centennial Park, the land where the lake took shape as an impoundment of Little Patuxent River’s Centennial Branch was acquired by Howard County in the 1970s.

The 50-acre reservoir was formed by an earthen impoundment created for flood control in 1985. 

Centennial Park, a recreation facility with baseball fields, basketball and volleyball courts, and other facilities, later surrounded the lake.

Centennial Lake is well-known for the largemouth bass found within its waters. Anglers will find many excellent areas to cast a line along the loop trail that circles the lake. 

Tiger muskellunge, bluegill, pumpkinseed, redear sunfish, and trout are also found in this reservoir. 

7. Rocky Gorge Reservoir

Morning mist and fall colors reflected on the still water at early morning at Rocky Gorge Reservoir in Howard County, Maryland
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Rocky Gorge Reservoir
  • Distance from Baltimore: 21 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Picnics

The Rocky Gorge Reservoir is a drive of fewer than 21 miles southwest of Baltimore. 

Created by an impoundment constructed along the Patuxent River in 1952, this 770-acre reservoir took shape in 1953. 

The T. Howard Duckett Dam was named in honor of an individual who drafted legislation to establish the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. 

Similar to the Triadelphia Reservoir, this sanitary commission maintains the Rocky Gorge Reservoir as a source of drinking water. 

Non-human contact recreation is possible along the reservoir and includes boating, kayaking, hiking, and picnicking.

The Browns Bridge launch site of the Patuxent Water Trail offers access to the area. 

Those who fish in Rocky Gorge will find bass, catfish, walleye, trout, crappie, muskellunge, pike, and sunfish. 

8. Prettyboy Reservoir

View of Prettyboy Dam, in Baltimore County, Maryland
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Prettyboy Reservoir
  • Distance from Baltimore: 30 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

A drive 30 miles north of Baltimore, Prettyboy Reservoir is an impounded area of Gunpowder Falls. 

Some of the water held in this 7,380-acre reservoir then travels along Gunpowder Falls to Loch Haven Reservoir before reaching filtration plants in Baltimore. 

Workers built Prettyboy Dam in 1932 to create this reservoir, a place that offers visitors an opportunity to hike, horseback ride, enjoy nature, and fish throughout the year. Nature photographers enjoy visiting this area.

Seasonal hunting and year-round fishing are permitted. Guests should be aware of active hunting seasons before accessing remote trails. 

Direct water contact is prohibited, though those who enjoy fishing may try their luck at Prettyboy Reservoir. 

Species frequently caught here include channel catfish, white crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, and largemouth and smallmouth bass.

9. Lake Marburg

Rocks and a picnic table in Lake Marburg, at Codorus State Park, Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Marburg
  • Distance from Baltimore: 41 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming (pool), Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, Ice Fishing, Ice Skating, Cross-Country Skiing, Ice Boating, Snowmobiling

Located in Pennsylvania and a little more than 40 miles northwest of the city, Lake Marburg was created as the result of a public-private partnership with the Glatfelter Paper Company of Spring Grove. 

Completed in the late 1960s, this lake serves two purposes: to supply the needs of the paper factory and offer recreation opportunities. 

To create this 1,275-acre reservoir along Codorus Creek, the former town of Marburg was abandoned, and the site now sits under the lake. 

Codorus State Park opened in 1965, and Lake Marburg took its present shape in 1970. This 3,490-acre preserve attracts visitors who enjoy hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, and boating. 

Sailboats and motorboats may use seven launch ramps to access the lake. In addition to 26 miles of shoreline, a seasonal pool and campground welcome guests during warmer months.

Fishing is popular on Lake Marburg. Bow fishing is permitted along the lake’s shallow coves. 

Species here include catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, muskellunge, and yellow perch. 

10. Lake Elkhorn

  • Website: Lake Elkhorn
  • Distance from Baltimore: 19 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Nineteen miles southwest of downtown, Lake Elkhorn was created along a section of the Little Patuxent River’s Elkhorn branch. 

The Columbia Park and Recreation Association, now known as the Columbia Association, designed this 37-acre urban lake in 1974. 

With an average depth of eight feet and a watershed of approximately 2,500 acres, this reservoir has become a popular place for walking, jogging, and fishing in the Owen Brown community of Columbia.

The green space around the lake includes a trail of slightly more than two miles. The 23-acre park also has boardwalks and a picnic pavilion. 

Rainbow trout are introduced into the lake each spring. Along with these stocked fish, anglers on Lake Elkhorn will find bluegill and largemouth bass. 

11. Wilde Lake

Beautiful sky reflecting in Wilde Lake, in Columbia, Maryland
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Wilde Lake
  • Distance from Baltimore: 20 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

In addition to Lake Elkhorn, Wilde Lake is another artificial reservoir created by the Columbia Association. 

A drive of less than 20 miles southwest of Baltimore and approximately four miles north of Lake Elkhorn, this urban body of water once was a low-lying meadow with a stream passing through the area. 

The addition of a poured concrete impoundment in 1967 allowed this 22-acre lake to take shape. 

Water from this lake cascades down this dam and continues its journey into Lake Kittamaqundi, less than a half-mile away.

Visitors to Wilde Lake may enjoy a 1.46-mile trail around the lake, as well as a pavilion and fishing pier at Wilde Lake Park. 

Fishing in this reservoir is catch-and-release only, with shoreline fishing permitted from the impoundment on the lake’s northwestern side, near the stream inlet. 

Largemouth bass is the main species found here. Others include bluegill, black crappie, and green sunfish. 

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