A common misconception about Rock Creek Park is that it's solely located in Washington, DC. And while much of the park can be found within the nation's capital, there's a lot more to it in the district's northern neighbor, Maryland. Sitting in the northern section of the park is Lake Needwood, a gem in the middle of Montgomery County. The 75-acre lake is in Derwood, a small village between Gaithersburg and Rockville.
The lake, which is technically a reservoir, was created to help with flood control. An earthen dam, constructed in 1965, keeps the water in and prevents overflowing. The fragile Rock Creek emerges from the lake's southern end, and the lake helps to keep those waters clean. It is a prime spot for non-gasoline-powered boating, so if you are interested in paddling without the company of motor boats this is a perfect spot.
What Makes It Great
The man-made lake is crystal clear and flat as a pancake, so paddlers of all skill levels can enjoy everything it has to offer. It is surrounded on all sides by forest and/or trails, save for the far northern piece that is bordered by Needwood Road.
The only boats allowed on the water are those powered by electric motors or humans, so leave your gas-powered boats at home. A trip to Lake Needwood is a trip to a peaceful and clean lake.
The Lake Needwood Boat House offers kayaks, rowboats, canoes, and pedal boats for rent. Another option is to take a cruise on the Needwood Queen, a flat-bottom pontoon boat, during the summer season.
If fishing is your thing, bring your canoe (or rent one) and your fishing gear (or buy it there) and cast some lines for largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and trout.
Who is Going to Love It
Everyone can enjoy Lake Needwood, from families with small children all the way up to experienced paddlers looking to spend a few hours (or more) on the water. Bring your fishing rod and see what you can catch.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are several ways to get to Lake Needwood, including by public transportation. If you have a car and are in Washington, try jumping on the George Washington Memorial Parkway west and then hop onto 495 north. From there, take 270 north and exit at Shady Grove Road. Then take Redland Boulevard to Needwood Road, which brings you right to the park entrance.
Dogs are allowed and entering the park is free. There is a fee for boat rentals.