How To: Deep Creek Lake, Md.

Deep Creek Lake is surrounded by state parks and forests, is home to the humble Wisp Resort, and is a hop, skip, and jump from quality paddling. There’s an eco-friendly community here, and their respect for nature shows in the beauty of Deep Creek Lake’s surrounding areas. It’s a great place to base an adventure weekend around and still have more to come back for later.


On the paddling front, the closest put in is at the Youghiogheny River, right off Sang Run Road. The “Yough” has several different sections with varying difficulty so there’s something for everyone. There is also the Cheat River 50 minutes down the road, home of Cheat River Festival, and some of the most beloved whitewater this side of the Mississippi.

There is plenty of biking to be had. The backroads (try Bittinger Road) have rolling hills and tree canopies for some relaxing road biking. Mountain bikes can be taken to Wisp Resort for some downhill action, Fork Run Recreation Area for some technical trail riding (and climbing!), or Big Bear Lake Trail Center for a satisfying mix. Deep Creek Lake State Park also has a great loop!

Deep Creek Lake has all the classic lake sports. We highly suggest kayaking to the Lakeside Creamery, they even have a dock for you to pull up on while you’re enjoying your cold treat. There’s also plenty of places to paddleboard, wakeboard, waterski, and swim.

Once you’ve got all your biking and paddling in, it’s time to get your two feet on solid ground.  Head to Swallow Falls State park for some relaxing waterfall views and negative ions. For something even more mystical, keep going past Swallow Falls and land at Snaggy Mountain Rock Maze, a large natural rock formation with narrow halls and hidden rooms.  This area is closer to Raiders of the Lost Arc than reality.

Swallow Falls State Park
Rock Maze


This “Truth Window” shows the straw bale insulation of the main building at Blue Moon Rising.

We spent our time in Deep Creek Lake at Blue Moon Rising, a collection of 14 eco-friendly, unique, tiny homes. Each is designed with effect on their environment and minimalism in mind.  Switching from the van to a tiny home for a few nights was luxurious! What we liked most about this community was its emphasis on reducing carbon footprint, creating a community experience, and educating guests on what “living green” can mean for them. When building the cabins, “every material and construction decision [was] weighed against its impact on the earth.” The main building uses straw bale insulation, and both that building and the community meeting space have live, green roofs. They have 120 acres of property, with only 15 of that developed.  The rest is left wild, with trails perfect for hiking and biking, and snowshoeing in the winter.


While Blue Moon Rising was our favorite option for ‘stay’ in DCL, there are other options. There is a classic campground in Deep Creek Lake State Park with 112 campsites, yurts, and even some electric hook ups.  There is lake beach access at your disposal, just make sure to clean your campground before leaving to enjoy the lake.  The black bear population in DCL is extensive, and they’ve been known to visit those who leave them presents. There are also many hotels to suit your fancy if you’re looking for something less rustic—DCL is a lake town after all!


Moon Shadow Cafe is a great option for meat from happy animals, organic veggies, and creative dishes. The eclectic interior makes it a pleasure to dine in and the locals will all have suggestions on where to take your next adventure. They have live music on the weekends, grab a “KRJ” from the cocktail menu and have a relaxed evening. If you’re looking for something faster, try the sister grocery store, Harvest Moon Market. They have a deli counter ready to make any sammie on house-made bread, or grab groceries to make your own grub. Fireside Deli and Wine Shop has some delicious paninis, but make sure to check their hours before venturing over there.  Breakfast is best had at Canoe on the Run, where you can get fueled quickly with caffeine and calories to get out on the lake as early as possible.


Like the gear we’re rockin’ ?  Check out the clothing from La Sportiva,  featured in the images above!

Places to Go, Things to See: