Just a couple of miles from traffic-clogged Rockville Pike sits 75-acre Lake Needwood and its diminutive neighbor Lake Frank (55-acres) in a quiet oasis of untouched scenery and dense woods. Built in the late 1960s as reservoirs to aid in flood control, both lakes have become favorite spot for local runners and home to races like the Lake Needwood Cross Country 10K (September 20, mcrrc.org). Lake Frank, which features a partly-paved path, is named after Bernard Frank, a wilderness activist and a co-founder of The Wilderness Society.
What Makes It Great
Log miles above the perimeter of Lake Frank on Lakeside Trail, a newly-paved, meandering path that cuts through towering oak trees. Hook up with before heading into the woods on a natural surface trail that ebbs along a babbling Rock Creek.
Note: parts of the non-paved trails around the lake are under construction, so watch your footing on the bumpier parts).
From there, you can detour onto the .5-mile (roundtrip) Sunfish Trail to Sunfish Pond and back. In it for the long haul? Jump onto the Rock Creek Hiker Biker Trail, which you can pick up from the south end of Lakeside Trail, and follow it for into DC, where it ends some 20 miles later.
If you head out in the summer months, the air is sweet with the scent of Honey Suckle, which grows voraciously throughout the park. Keep an eye out for wildlife ranging from bunnies to foxes scampering in the woods and hawks flying overhead.
Who is Going to Love It
Active families flock to Frank, especially because the wide, paved path and gently rolling hills are jogger-stroller (and tricycle) friendly. After your run, head down to the lake’s shore edge to dip your toes in the lapping water to skip stones—or ice your legs in the colder months.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to the parking lot from MD 28 South (Norbeck Road), turn left on Avery Road, and follow it until you see the entrance for Rock Creek Regional Park on your right (If you get to the stop sign at Southlawn Drive, you have gone too far.) Turn in and follow it partway up the hill until you see the parking lot. The trailhead begins just beyond the posted map.
There is no parking directly accessing Lake Frank; you must park in the parking lot off of Avery Road and run (or walk) about .25 miles on a wooded path to reach Lakeside Trail.