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Though only about 3,900 acres, Deep Creek Lake is the largest inland body of water in Maryland. Like all Maryland lakes, the reservoir is man-made, and is a haven for many freshwater fish, aquatic birds, black bears, and more. The lake was purchased by the State of Maryland in 2000, and has been transformed into a thriving winter tourism locale and growing summer hotspot.
Deep Creek Lake began its life in 1925, when the Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) built a dam on the Youghiogheny River for a hydroelectric project. By 1929, the lake filled to capacity and performed its purpose of small-scale electric generation. Deep Creek Lake has slowly changed into a location most frequented by tourists and pleasure seekers. Today, the State of Maryland owns the lake and buffer zone properties around the lake; the dam, tunnel, and power plant were sold to Sithe Energy.
Visitors spend much of their time at Deep Creek Lake State Park, which hosts classic activities like campfires, cultural talks, and guided hikes of the area. If camping is your pleasure, the park also offers over 100 campsites, all with access to hot showers and some with electric hookups and dump stations for self-contained units. There are also two mini-camper cabins and a rustic Yurt available for rental.
Start your trip with a visit to the Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center, which features please-touch exhibits that educate visitors both young and old on local flora, fauna, history, culture, and the lake's habitat. After a walk through the Discovery Center, head out into the park for a bit of sun and fresh air. Currently, Deep Creek Lake Park is in the process of building an amazing forest canopy walkway, which will allow visitors to travel through the treetops, getting a unique perspective of the forest's wildlife.
Deep Creek Lake is a land of outdoor activity, and hiking is a favorite. Walk through history, walking the same paths as Native American hunters and drinking in the same sights as early settlers. Investigate the historic Brant Coal Mine and homestead, which operated for three years between 1923 and 1926. As you meander over the park's trails, lost in the past, come back to the present every once in awhile to catch glimpses of the park's vast wildlife, especially the awe-inspiring red-tailed hawk and great horned owl. Squirrels, chipmunks, raccoon, skunk, and opossum are frequent forest inhabitants, and black bear, wild turkey, and bobcats are an exciting, but not-as-common sighting.
Trails range from easy to difficult, and travel anywhere from 0.2 miles to 5.5 miles, so whatever your hiking abilities and time constraints, there is a trail for you. Take your camera along, as several trails will provide you with amazing photo ops and great wildlife shots, as well as beautiful lake vistas. In the winter, many local trails convert to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobile trails, so you'll find your day occupied no matter what the weather.
Deep Creek Lake is a great place to drop your fishing line in, and anglers catch their dinners here everyday. Smallmouth bass are the most common fish species, but are joined by bluegill, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed sunfish, walleye, and yellow perch. In fact, the current Maryland records for bluegill (3 lbs 7 oz) and northern pike (24 lbs 12 oz) were caught at Deep Creek Lake.
Getting out onto the lake should be a priority, and the best way to do so is in a boat. Renting a motorboat, canoe, or kayak will open up your exploration opportunities, and give you a look at Deep Creek Lake from the inside out. Take a slow, quiet ride in your canoe along the lake's shores, stopping to watch a deer drink from the reservoir or a puffy cloud go by. Drink in the tranquility around you, appreciating how the area was before development. Or pick up the speed and jog along in a speedboat, exploring the lake in a day, investigating your favorite coves. And when the warm sun has gotten a little too strong, drop anchor and dive into the cool, inviting Deep Creek Lake waters.
The largest Maryland reservoir has much to offer, from summer waterskiing and hiking to winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. An outdoor paradise in the middle of the Maryland mountains, a vacation here is custom-made just the way you like it.
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