15 Best Things to Do in Deep Creek Lake, MD

Deep Creek Lake, MD
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The Deep Creek area in Maryland includes regions surrounding Deep Creek Lake.

The lake itself is in the City of McHenry in Garrett County.

The region is known for its outdoor activities, no matter the season.

Go fishing or boating on the lake in the summer; join the festivities at the Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland, or ski on the slopes of Wisp Resort in the winter.

Deep Creek Lake is artificial and covers approximately 3,900 acres with 69 miles of shoreline.

It resulted from the construction of the Deep Creek Dam in the 1920s.

The state of Maryland took charge of the lake in the 1980s, then bought it from the Pennsylvania Electric Company in 2000 to establish the Deep Creek Lake State Park.

Today, the lake is a popular site for anglers to catch largemouth bass, brown trout, bluegill, and many more.

Here are the best things to do in Deep Creek, Maryland:

Go Fishing at Deep Creek Lake State Park

The waters of Deep Creek Lake State Park
Nicolas Raymond from Bethesda, Maryland, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Deep Creek Lake State Park is a popular fishing spot among anglers located on State Park Road in Swanton, Maryland.

Its waters sustain a wide variety of game fish, but the most common are the brown and rainbow trout, walleye, and yellow perch.

Try fly fishing in the Youghiogheny, Casselman, Potomac, and Savage Rivers, stocked with quality trout.

The best time to fish in Deep Creek is from April through June when fish swim to shallow waters to spawn.

If you’re not into fishing, the state park has numerous campgrounds, two swimming beaches, and 20 miles of biking and hiking trails.

There are occasional sightings of American black bears in some campgrounds, so you might spot one if you’re lucky.

Learn about the local flora and fauna at the 6,000-square-foot Discovery Center.

Visit the Deep Creek Lake State Park for some great angling action.

Ride a Horse at Circle R Ranch

Located on Sand Flat Road in Oakland, Maryland, Circle R Ranch is a family-run ranch where you can learn the basics of horseback riding.

They have well-trained horses that include several breeds like American Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses, Draft Horses, and the “Heinz 57 Variety.”

Personalize your riding experience with your guide and follow the trails leading to the hillsides and into a forest filled with mature maples and oaks.

The trail rides last for around 45 minutes.

There are also pony rides for the kids!

In the winter, the ranch offers open sleigh rides with their Clydesdale crosses and Percherons, where you can snuggle under a warm sleigh blanket while admiring the beautiful scenery.

Visit Circle R Ranch to learn basic horseback riding.

Try Ziplining at Monkey Business Adventure Park

The name may be funny, but there’s no monkey business at Monkey Business Adventure Park.

Located on Deep Creek Drive in McHenry, it’s an aerial adventure park where you can try ziplining, free-falling, and obstacle courses.

The obstacle course is divided into three tiers: Tier 1, the easiest, includes 21 elements suitable for ages seven years and up and will take around 45 to 50 minutes to complete.

Tier 2 includes the Tier 1 obstacle and another set of 21 elements recommended for ages 12 and up, while Tier 3 combines the two tiers.

If you want more thrill, try Free Falling or Ziplining.

All attractions come with safety gear, so you don’t have to worry about the kids’ safety.

Pump up your adrenaline and try the obstacles at Monkey Business Adventure Park.

Try Snow Tubing at Wisp Resort

Exterior of Wisp Resort
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Wisp Resort on March Hill Road in McHenry is a four-season resort that offers mountain adventures, whitewater rafting and kayaking, zip lines, and winter activities.

Hop on a chairlift ride and have scenic views of Deep Creek Lake and its surrounding areas.

Newbies and experienced paddlers alike will enjoy the world’s only mountaintop recirculating whitewater course, which has gentle rapids in a controlled environment.

Take a unique tour of Wisp Mountain via the Mountain Coaster, which boasts 1,300 feet of uphill tracks that will take you on a 3,500-foot downhill ride over 350 vertical feet on its eastern side.

A snowboarder at Wisp Resort
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

During winter, try snow tubing without the long hike up the hill.

The resort has two conveyor carpets that will take you up the 750-foot-long tubing chutes.

Thanks to their snowmaking and grooming activities, you can always be assured of perfect tubing conditions.

Whether summer or winter, Wisp Resort has something in store for you.

Skiing at Wisp Resort
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See Master Artisans at Work at Simon Pearce Factory Store/Glassblowing

Located on Glass Drive in Mountain Lake Park, the Simon Pearce Factory Store/Glassblowing is a store and workshop of renowned glassblowing and pottery master Simon Pearce.

The factory has a platform where you can stand and watch artisans create handmade glassware sold in their shop.

If you’re interested in shopping, you can check out the Apprentice collection, creations of those new to glassmaking.

Some items in this collection may have imperfections, but they are sold cheaper than Grade 1 glassware.

If you have some money to spend, their dinnerware sets are investment pieces that would look nice on anyone’s dining table.

Drop by Simon Pearce Factory Store/Glassblowing and have an appreciation of glassmaking.

Appreciate Appalachian Tradition at the Spruce Forest Artisan Village

Located on Casselman Road in Grantsville, Maryland, the Spruce Forest Artisan Village was founded in 1957 by Alta Shrock.

She was a biology professor, activist, and the first Mennonite woman in the country to earn a Ph.D.

The arts and heritage center aims to preserve and promote the Appalachian traditions developed by the Mennonites, Amish, and Native Americans that once lived in the region.

The village has resident and visiting artisans who showcase crafts like blacksmithing, weaving, woodturning, and wheel-thrown pottery in restored log cabins.

These cabins came from various locations across Western Maryland, transported piece by piece, and rebuilt on site.

Most cabins are from the 1830s; one predates the American Revolution, while another was constructed during the Revolution.

Workshops conducted by guest artists are regularly hosted in the cabins.

Join a quilling workshop in a restored log cabin at the Spruce Forest Artisan Village.

Hike the Old Growth Forests of Swallow Falls State Park

Aerial view of Swallow Falls State Park
KhanIM / Shutterstock.com

Located on Maple Glade Road in Oakland, Swallow Falls State Park is home to the state’s highest free-falling waterfall, the 53-foot-tall Muddy Creek Falls.

The park’s land belonged to the 1,917-acre donation by John and Robert Garrett in 1906, which later became the Garrett State Forest.

The Civilian Conservation Corps developed the Swallow Falls State Park in the 1930s and the Herrington Manor State Park.

Hiking trail at Swallow Falls State Park
johnnyraff / Shutterstock.com

Take the mile-long hiking trail and explore the park’s old-growth forest composed of white pines and hemlock trees, some more than 300 years old.

An 1 1/4 -mile-long trail will take you to some of the best views in Western Maryland, while a 5.5-mile multi-use trail connects the park to Herrington Manor.

The waters of Swallow Falls State Park
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Blow off Steam at the Deep Creek Axe Throwing Company

Located within the Monkey Business Adventure Park in McHenry, Maryland, the Deep Creek Axe Throwing Company offers an unusual activity that you’ll surely enjoy.

Learn the art of axe throwing from an “Axpert” who will lead you through a throwing tournament session for 30 minutes.

You can join the hourlong open session with no instructions other than a safety briefing.

The aim is to be able to throw the axe and pierce as close to the bullseye as possible, much like darts, but with axes!

Join the fun and learn how to handle an axe properly at the Deep Creek Axe Throwing Company.

Enjoy NY-Style Pizza at Brenda’s Pizzeria

Located on Garrett Highway #2 in Oakland, Brenda’s Pizzeria is a family-style Italian restaurant serving New York-style pizzas and pasta.

Brenda’s opened its doors in 2001 and has become a local favorite ever since.

Their dough is made from scratch daily, and they only use authentic Italian cheeses for their toppings.

Try their Pizza Margherita, made with fresh mozzarella and basil, or their Sei Cosi, which has pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and extra cheese.

If you think NY-style pizza is big, wait until you see Brenda’s Abbondanza, a 26-inch pizza topped with only the best ingredients.

Drive by Brenda’s Pizzeria if you’re craving some good New York-style pizza.

Observe the Waters of Muddy Creek Falls

Scenic view of Muddy Creek Falls
Kenneth Keifer / Shutterstock.com

Located within the Swallow Falls State Park on Maple Glade Road in Oakland, the Muddy Creek Falls is the state’s highest free-falling waterfall at 53 feet.

It results from the Muddy Creek flowing into the gorge created by the Youghiogheny River.

The fall is surrounded by beautiful foliage and is best visited during autumn when the trees turn into a palette of orange, red, and brown.

Aerial view of Muddy Creek Falls
Kenneth Keifer / Shutterstock.com

It’s easy to reach with a short gravel walk, and a stairway allows you to see it from different perspectives.

You can even hike atop the waterfall and admire the views below, but wear shoes with excellent traction as the rocks get slippery.

Take a detour and admire the beauty of Muddy Creek Falls.

Try Lakeside Creamery’s Waffle Cones

Located on Garrett Highway in Oakland, Lakeside Creamery is a waterfront ice cream parlor that has been serving Garrett County since 1995.

The entrepreneur Bill Meagher founded the creamery, which quickly became a favorite among locals and tourists.

Enjoy homemade ice cream and sherbets with a lakefront view.

Lakeside Creamery has a whopping 90 flavors on the menu, so there is something for everyone!

Classic flavors like cookies n cream, cake batter, chocolate chip, and peanut butter Fudge are always available in their front case daily.

In contrast, a rotating menu of unique flavors is available throughout the week.

They’re also known for their waffle cones that are creamy and soft, unlike the usual ones you get elsewhere.

The peanut butter cup, brown cow sundae, and banana split are other must-tries.

Feast on Lakeside Creamery’s delicious ice cream while enjoying a view of Deep Creek Lake.

Experience Lodge-Style Dining at Dutch’s at Silver Tree Restaurant

Located on Glendale Road in Oakland, Dutch’s At Silver Tree Restaurant is a fine-dining restaurant in a lodge setting.

It’s known for its premium selection of seafood and steaks.

Besides the food, it’s also famous for its expansive view of Deep Creek Lake and its surrounding mountains, giving diners a more romantic feel.

Try the twice-baked potatoes slathered in cheese and the creamy Crab Imperial.

Other must-tries are crab cakes and calamari with crab dip.

You’ll also never go wrong with their hand-cut steaks seasoned to perfection.

Experience fine dining at Dutch’s At Silver Tree Restaurant.

Take on the Rapids of Youghiogheny River

Rapids of Youghiogheny River
Gerry Bishop / Shutterstock.com

Youghiogheny River, or Yough for short, is a 134-mile-long river traversing the states of Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

It’s known for its many rapids that thrill-seekers will surely enjoy.

Yough’s rapids are divided into three parts.

The Upper River Rafting is reserved for advanced rafters with 22 continuous Class V+ rapids.

The upper part of the river drops around 120 feet per mile and is not for the fainthearted.

On the other hand, Middle River Rafting is excellent for beginners with ten Class I-II rapids.

Rafting on Youghiogheny River
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

You can use an inflatable kayak and admire the beautiful scenery along the 11-mile-long section of the river.

Meanwhile, the Lower River Rafting is for intermediate rafters and is the most popular section with gorgeous scenery, wildlife, and Class III-IV rapids.

Bring out your paddles and take on the rapids of the Youghiogheny River.

Try World-Class Whitewater Rafting at Adventure Sports Center International

Aerial view of Adventure Sports Center International
Adventure Sports Center International (copyright owner), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Adventure Sports Way in McHenry, Adventure Sports Center International is a sports complex that boasts the only mountaintop whitewater course in the world.

It’s strategically located above the Wisp Ski Resort and offers guided raft trips, kayak rentals, and riverboard rentals.

It’s also a top-notch canoe/kayak slalom center, having hosted the IFC Canoe Slalom World Championships in 2014.

Built in 2007, the complex is the third artificial whitewater facility in the country.

Natural boulders blasted from the mountaintop direct the water flow.

Experience world-class whitewater rafting at Adventure Sports Center International.

Discover the Town of Accident

Yes, it’s the town’s name, and its residents are called “Accidentals.”

The origin of Accident’s name remains unclear.

A famous story is that in 1786, Brooke Beall and William Deakins, Jr. were conducting separate land surveys in the area, and Deakins “by accident” claimed land already surveyed by Beall.

Visit the James Drane House on Old Cemetery Road, a long rectangular log structure built in 1789 by the town’s first permanent settler James Drane.

The Kaese Mill, which Henry August Kaese built in 1868, is the state’s only fully operational water-powered grist mill.

Whether by Accident or not, take a detour to the town of Accident and discover what it offers.

Final Thoughts

Deep Creek is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who want to see action in all seasons.

Whether it’s summer or winter, you’ll never run out of things to do on this side of Maryland.

If you’re not the outdoorsy type, there are artistic escapades and gastronomic adventures that you can try.

Pack your bags to experience the best things to do in Deep Creek, Maryland.

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