Diving into Deep Creek

by: Kit Waskom Pollard

Adventure Sports Center International


Deep Creek Lake might be the best year-round vacation destination in the country. Winter ski trips, springtime strolls, summer boat cruises and autumn hikes under the changing leaves. Every season offers a new and exciting reason to visit.

Located in Garrett County, in the westernmost part of Maryland, Deep Creek Lake covers nearly 4,000 acres and has 69 miles of shoreline. The oddly-shaped lake, with numerous inlets, meanders from the town of McHenry in the north to Swanton in the southeast and is surrounded by mountains and state parks with ample opportunities to enjoy nature.

Activities around Deep Creek cater to guests of all ages, from families with young kids to couples or solo travelers. The lake is, of course, the center of it all, with boating, kayaking and standup paddle boarding in the summer and ice fishing or skating in the winter. Wisp Resort, with slopes for skiing and snowboarding and adventurous mountain activities year-round, is also a big draw.

Nearby Swallow Falls State Park is home to miles of hiking and biking trails as well as Muddy Creek Falls, the highest waterfall in the state. In the winter, the park is often snow-covered and peaceful; it’s chilly, but still welcoming. In spring and summer, the hiking is terrific and during the fall, when the leaves are at their peak, it’s gorgeous.

Nature might be Deep Creek’s headlining act, but the dining, drinking and shopping options are worth a trip on their own. There’s never been a better time to eat and quaff your way around the lake, as local restaurants and bars take advantage of bounty from the many farms in the area.

“There’s been a big surge in farm to table,” says Kristin Skeweris, media and marketing director at Railey Real Estate, a McHenry-based realty company. “Garrett County is very agricultural, with a lot of farms. A lot of local restaurants have picked up on that.”

In addition to the restaurants and stores right on the water, downtown Oakland, just south of the lake, has a thriving scene.

No matter when you plan a trip, there’s a lot to do, see and try in the Deep Creek area, and there are plenty of places to stay while you’re there. Here are some of the best places to stay, sample and explore during your visit.


Harbor Bar at Dutch’s at Silver Tree dutchsatsilvertree.com, Oakland l One of the best lakefront views on Deep Creek Lake.

Honi-Honi Bar honi-honi.com, Deep Creek Lake l Arrive by boat and tie up to the dock, or in January take part in the Deep Creek Dunk fundraiser by plunging into the icy lake.

Deep Creek Cellars

deepcreekcellars.com, Friendsville l This off-the-beaten-path winery has been making its natural wine since 1997.

Mountain State Brewing Co.

mountainstatebrewing.com, McHenry l The Maryland branch of the West Virginia brewing company also has flatbreads to die for.

Sipside Lounge facebook.com/sipsidelounge, Oakland l This brand new lounge serves wine, craft beer and sophisticated cocktails accompanied by live music.


Archie’s Barbeque archiesbbq.com, Deep Creek Lake l Award winning barbeque and generously stacked sandwiches.

Canoe on the Run facebook.com/canoeotr, McHenry l The handwritten chalkboard menu changes with the season.

Lakeside Creamery

lakesidecreamery.com, Oakland l Lines for this award-winning ice cream often persist into the night during the summer season.

Manor Steakhouse

themanorsteakhouse.com, Oakland l Fine dining from an era when Garrett County was the summer vacation retreat area for wealthy Baltimoreans and Washingtonians, who came by train.

Trader’s Coffee House

traderscoffeehouse.com, Oakland l An eco-conscious café with fresh baked pastries that hosts meetings for the local knitting group.


Adventure Sports Center International

adventuresportscenter.com, McHenry l The only mountain top closed whitewater rafting course in the United States has adjustable water levels from class 1 to 5.

Aquatic Center aquatic-center.com, McHenry l A wide variety of boats, including kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent and purchase.

Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park discoverycenterdcl.com, Swanton l A nature center with permanent exhibits detailing the natural history of the area.

Swallow Falls State Park

dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/western/swallowfalls.aspx, Oakland l Unwind with a hike to Muddy Creek falls, the highest waterfall in Maryland.

Pleasant Valley Dream Rides

visitdeepcreek.com/list/member/pleasant-valley-dream-rides-418, Oakland l Enjoy a tractor-drawn hayride or horse-drawn sleigh ride.

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