From seeking out gorgeous fall foliage to outdoor activities like kayaking and fishing, Deep Creek activities make every season the perfect time to visit. Whether you’re craving aquatic adventure or searching for the next great campsite, you’ll find what you’re after in Deep Creek Lake. Check out these suggestions to kick off your Deep Creek adventure!

1. Leaf Peep on a Deep Creek Lake Hike

Autumn in Deep Creek Lake
Photo courtesy of Katie Campbell

It’s no secret that Maryland’s fall colors are breathtaking. What better way to get your seasonal dose of leaf peeping than on a Deep Creek Lake hike? Gear up in your favorite fall sweater and prepare to spot some stunning foliage.

Indian Turnip Trail is one of the main paths, winding about four miles through colorful trees. Beckman’s Trail branches off of Indian Turnip and eventually leads to the Brant Mine Trail. Continue in that direction and you’ll find Snakeroot Nature Trail. Keep an eye out for deer and other wildlife!

2. Rent a Kayak at the Aquatic Center

Deep Creek kayaking

Deep Creek’s Aquatic Center is your starting point for adventures on the water. Take kayaks to explore the lake’s serene corners, or rent jet skis and feel the forest-lined banks rushing by you. This corner of Maryland welcomes thrill-seekers and quiet paddlers alike.

Groups might opt for a ski boat rental, another option available at the Aquatic Center. Whichever boat you choose, there’s no better way to spend Deep Creek’s warm summer nights than on the water.

3. Race Go Karts at Smiley’s Amusement Park

Go Karts at Smiley’s Amusement Park

A trip to Smiley’s means grins on everybody’s faces! This local amusement park is a hit with kids and families. Try your hand at mini golf on Smiley’s course, where a 30-foot waterfall splashes down in front of lake views.

Drivers of all ages can face off on the go kart tracks. On hot days, retreat into the indoor arcade, or battle it out in the laser tag arena. Round out the day with Smiley’s signature pizza, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

4. Hit the Ski Slopes at Wisp

night skiing at Wisp
Photo courtesy of Matt Capriglione

During the winter, skiers and snowboarders make the trek up to Wisp, where they find powdery slopes, diverse runs, and a great atmosphere.

Novice skiers can glide down Possum or Wisp Trail, two of the mountain’s green slopes, while experts can try out Odin’s Chute. Blue slopes like Bear Paw and Boulder Run are somewhere in the middle, ideal for frequent skiers or snowboarders.

Not interested in skiing or snowboarding? Wisp also has snow tubing, ice skating, and a mountain coaster for all ages. Refuel at the end of the day at one of the resort’s restaurants, like DC’s.

5. Chase Waterfalls at Swallow Falls State Park

waterfalls at Swallow Falls State Park
Muddy Creek Falls | Photo courtesy of Paul Waldo

Swallow Falls boasts some of Maryland’s most scenic hikes, featuring Muddy Creek Falls, a 53-foot waterfall at the heart of the park. The Youghiogheny River borders the park, framing old growth forests and winding trails.

Tolliver Falls near the end of the trail is shallow enough for swimming, as long as you’re prepared for possible chilly water. Pets aren’t permitted on the trails, but you can bring them with you to other parts of the park. Spend some time outdoors in Swallow Falls State Park and come back refreshed.

6. Sample Lakeside Cocktails at Honi-Honi Bar

lakeside cocktail at Honi Honi on Deep Creek Lake
Photo courtesy of The Honi Honi Bar via Yelp

Dock your boat at the Honi-Honi and relax like the locals do—out on the lawn with a frosty beverage. Live bands often set the scene for a summer night at this tiki-themed bar on the lake, and lawn games keep the group entertained while you wait for your burger. The back lawn’s elephant statue tends to attract young climbers. Pull up a chair at this local watering hole’s bar and take in some live music with good company!

7. Try Your Hand at Fishing

deep creek fishing
Photo courtesy of Kiks Balayon

Game fish abound in Deep Creek State Park, and anglers often find their best luck from April to June, during spawning season. Stumpy Point is a local favorite for smallmouth and largemouth bass, pickerel, and northern pike. Explore Deep Creek Lake State Park for hidden spots where the fish might be eager to bite.

Don’t be intimidated to try fly fishing! Savage River Angler offers lessons, and with practice, many fishermen find it to be immensely rewarding. With the right guidance, you’ll attract the coveted brown trout the river is known for.

8. Set Sail at Deep Creek Sailing School

Kids' sailing lessons
Photo courtesy of Jim Sorbie

Maryland summers draw boat lovers of all kinds, but sailing has a particular charm that’s tough to beat. Deep Creek Sailing School offers three-day and five-day adult lessons, as well as kids’ lessons for sailors ages 8-18. You’ll go out on the water in a small Flying Scot sailboat with an instructor, where you’ll learn the basics of boat-handling. You may even get a chance to practice some racing techniques.

Whether sailing lessons is a bucket list item or simply a bonding activity for the family, spend some time on the water and you’ll experience Deep Creek Lake’s magic in a fresh new way.

9. Pick up Some Sweets (or Fresh Fruit) at Candyland

Jars on shelves in a candy store
Photo courtesy of Bart Heird

Step into Candyland, and you’ve entered a world of sugary delight. This quaint shop displays their decadent selections in bins, selling sweets like gummies, chocolate covered fruit, and bubble gum in bulk. The store doubles as a farmers’ market, so pick up some produce to counterbalance your treats.

Kids (and perhaps adults, too) will gawk over the immense piles of candy lining the shelves of Candyland. Let the sweet tooth in your group pick out a few bags and prepare for a sugar rush. Candy makes a great souvenir for the folks back home, too!

10. Feed Your Curious Side at the Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center

Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center exterior

Nature lovers of all ages can get a closer look at native wildlife at Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center. From raptors to pond life, it’s all on display at this interactive nature center. Some indoor activities could make a great option for a rainy day.

Tour guides introduce visitors to the historic Brant Mine during a two-hour hike through the surrounding woods. Come by the center during one of the regularly scheduled aviary encounters for an introduction to the resident rescued birds of prey. Check their calendar for these events and much more.

Deep Creek Lake’s abundance of activities is bound to satisfy everyone in your travel crew. Through every season, visitors find recreation, rest, and nature’s beauty. Plan your Deep Creek vacation around these attractions, and the memories will speak for themselves!

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Author: Katie Wojciechowski

A native Austinite, Katie misses Tex-Mex food, but has fallen in love with Portland. Iceland’s Ring Road, Maui’s Road to Hana, and a horse-trodden trail in Argentina’s wine country are some of her favorite journeys to date, but they fail to top the trip to Marfa and Big Bend she often made during her college years in West Texas.