Seneca Creek State Park

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Coordinates: 39°08′42″N 77°15′23″W / 39.14500°N 77.25639°W / 39.14500; -77.25639
Seneca Creek State Park
Maryland State Park
Remains of the Black Rock Mill in Seneca Creek State Park MD.jpg
The remains of the Black Rock Mill in November 2006.
Country U.S.
State Maryland
County Montgomery
Elevation 220 ft (67 m) [1]
Coordinates 39°08′42″N 77°15′23″W / 39.14500°N 77.25639°W / 39.14500; -77.25639 [1]
Area 6,283 acres (2,543 ha) [2]
Established Unspecified
Management Maryland Department of Natural Resources
IUCN category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape
Location in Maryland
Website: Seneca Creek State Park

Seneca Creek State Park encompasses approximately 6,300 acres (2,500 ha) in Montgomery County, Maryland, and extends along 14 miles of Seneca Creek to the Potomac River.[3] The developed portion of the park centers on 90-acre (36 ha) Clopper Lake and the Clopper Lake Day Use Area located in Gaithersburg. The lake was created for recreational use and flood control by damming Long Draught Creek, a tributary of Seneca Creek, in 1975.[4]

Activities and amenities[edit]

Clopper Lake in October 2002.
Built in 1837, the Seneca stone cutting mill cut the stone for the Smithsonian Castle

Clopper Lake[edit]

Clopper Lake averages a depth of 18 feet (5.5 m), has shallow enclaves, and is stocked with largemouth bass, tiger muskie, channel catfish, sunfish, bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish.[4] Boating is available on the lake.[3]

Clopper Lake Day Use Area[edit]

The CLDUA is bounded by Clopper Road (to the north), Longdraft Road (to the east), Great Seneca Highway (to the south), and Riffleford Road (to the west). A service charge is levied per person, on weekends and holidays from the beginning of April through the end of October.[3] Service charge revenues are deposited into the Maryland Park Service's general fund that goes toward operating expenses.


The park contains 50 miles (80 km) of trails, some in the CLDUA, and 12 miles (19 km) in the Schaeffer Farm Trails Area. The trails are used for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The Lake Shore Trail loops around Clopper Lake.[5] The Seneca Creek Greenway Trail follows the entire length of Great Seneca Creek for 16.5 miles (26.6 km) from Route 355 to the Potomac River.[3][5]


Sections of Seneca Creek can be travelled by kayak, especially south of Route 28, Darnestown Road, or further north during periods of high water. North of Route 28, it may be necessary to portage around trees down across the creek.

Other uses[edit]

The park has picnicking facilities, a tire playground, a restored 19th-century cabin, and cross-country skiing. Hunting is also permitted in several areas of the park.[3]


Among the special events held at the park is the annual Winter Lights Festival. Since 1995, the festival has featured a drive-through holiday light show from November through early January in the Clopper Lake Day Use Area.[6]

Historic sites[edit]

Seneca Creek State Park is home to historic landmarks including the partially restored Black Rock Mill which has interpretive exhibits featuring a history of area floods. The Seneca Schoolhouse is a restored 19th-century schoolhouse which was built for the children of local quarry laborers. Parts of the park were once part of an estate owned by the Clopper Family. The Woodlands, near the CLDUA, is an area dedicated to commemorating the life of the Clopper Family. A self-guided trail offers visitors a look into life in the area in the 19th century.[3]

Just west of where Seneca Creek empties into the Potomac is the Seneca Quarry. Remains of the stone cutting mill, built in 1837, still stand off Tschiffely Mill Road, though there are no interpretive signs. The mill cut the red sandstone for the Smithsonian Castle.[7] Above the quarry site is the restored quarry masters house. Both are part of the state park.[8]


The park is managed by the Maryland Park Service,[9] a unit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Currently, the staff consists of 2 LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) Rangers, and a mix of civilian permanent and seasonal employees.[citation needed] These employees perform either maintenance or operations work. In addition, the park relies heavily on volunteers and volunteer groups, who perform a variety of services ranging from maintenance to operations to trail work. Most trails are maintained by volunteers, not staff.

In popular culture[edit]

The 1999 film The Blair Witch Project was partially filmed in the Seneca Creek State Park.[10]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Seneca Creek State Park
  2. ^ "FY2013 DNR Owned Lands Acreage Report". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Seneca Creek State Park". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Inland Fishing, Clopper Lake". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Seneca Creek State Park Map". Maryland DNR. October 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Winter Lights Festival". City of Gaithersburg. 
  7. ^ Sheir, Rebecca (March 30, 2012). "From Stone to Bright Red Structure: A Tour of the Seneca Quarry". WAMU 88.5 FM Metro Connection. American University Radio. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ Peck, Garrett (2012). The Potomac River: A History and Guide. Charleston, SC: The History Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-1609496005. 
  9. ^ Maryland Park Service
  10. ^ "The Blair Witch Project: Filming Locations". IMDB. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 

External links[edit]