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Deep Creek Lake is the largest inland body of water in Maryland, covering about 3,900 acres in the Allegheny Mountains of western Maryland. Since its creation in the 1920s, the reservoir has grown into a four-season recreation destination with boating, water sports, swimming, fishing, hiking and whitewater rafting in summer; snow skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice skating and ice fishing in winter.
In 1925 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. Today, the State of Maryland owns the lake bed and buffer zone properties around the lake; Brookfield Renewable Power Company owns and operates the dam, tunnel and power plant. Over the decades since its creation, Deep Creek Lake slowly evolved into a major tourist destination.
Visitors spend much of their time at Deep Creek Lake State Park, which hosts classic activities such as campfires, cultural talks, and guided hikes of the area. The park's Discovery Center features please-touch exhibits that educate visitors both young and old on local flora, fauna, history, culture, and the lake's habitat. If camping is your pleasure, the park offers over 100 campsites, all with access to hot showers and some with electric hookups and dump stations for self-contained units. Two mini-camper cabins and a rustic Yurt are also available for rental. The park operates a boat launch ramp, swimming area with sandy beach, and waterfront picnicking facilities.
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; black bear, wild turkey, and bobcats are an exciting, but not-as-common sighting.
Trails range from easy to difficult with distances ranging 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. Autumn leaf-peeping is spectacular.
Deep Creek Lake is a great place to drop in your fishing line. 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. Drink in the tranquility around you, appreciating how the area was before development. Or pick up the pace by 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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