Seneca Creek State Park, situated in Gaithersburg, Md. just 30 minutes outside of downtown DC has 6,300 acres of beautiful landscape, including fields, forests, creeks, and lakes. The area boasts miles and miles of trails ideal for runners and hikers searching for a quiet, serene place to workout and escape into nature. And if you're a water person, Clopper Lake, the 90-acre body of water in the middle of the park, is tailor-made for paddling. Surrounded by trees, fields and wild flowers paddling this clear, flatwater makes you feel like you're in a remote mountain area. So bring your canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board, and get to it.
What Makes It Great
The elongated lake partially resembles a fish when viewed on a map, with several inlets that are great for exploring. Boats are allowed all year during park hours, and there are docks at the boat center on the northern side of the lake. If you don't have your own boat, rent one at the docks.
Wildlife is great in the park too, with loads of deer going in and out of the trees. On the water, you'll see turtles catching some sun along the shore, blue herons, and a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, tiger muskie, and crappie. The lake has an average depth of 18 feet and has several sections along the shore that are much shallower making it a great spot for fishers. For an added bonus to your day on the water, bring a fishing rod and see what you can catch.
Weekends tend to be crowded at Clopper Lake because of all it has to offer. In addition to the human-powered watersports, there are great spots for picnicking, and a tire playground. If you're able, it’s recommended that you visit the lake during the week—it's free to enter the park except on weekends—to beat the crowds.
Who is Going to Love It
If you are interested in a peaceful paddle on a lake with water as flat as glass (think about the lazy river at your favorite water park growing up, except with no current), Clopper Lake is for you. It’s relaxing, serene waters will provide a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city life you just left behind. Kids will love the lake too, especially if you bring a fishing rod and let them catch some fish. Even the smallest of catches will make them smile. And if you're into competitive rowing or kayaking, the lake is long enough to get in a good workout.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Address: Seneca Creek State Park, 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
The park is open from 8am to sunset from March to October and 10am to sunset November through February.
Directions From Washington, D.C, Virginia and points south, take I-270 north towards Frederick, Maryland. Take Exit 10, Clopper Road (Route 117). Turn right at the light at the bottom of the ramp. The park is approximately 2 miles on the left.
From points north, take I-270 south towards Washington, D.C., take Exit 11 (MD Route 124 west). Turn right at the light at the bottom of the ramp. At the second light, turn right onto Clopper Road (Route 117). The park is approximately 1.5 miles on the left.