Seneca Creek State Park

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Seneca Creek State Park
Wea02110 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Clopper Lake
Map showing the location of Seneca Creek State Park
Map showing the location of Seneca Creek State Park
Location in Maryland
LocationMontgomery County, Maryland, United States
Nearest cityGaithersburg, Maryland
Coordinates39°08′42″N 77°15′23″W / 39.14500°N 77.25639°W / 39.14500; -77.25639Coordinates: 39°08′42″N 77°15′23″W / 39.14500°N 77.25639°W / 39.14500; -77.25639
Area6,313 acres (25.55 km2)[1]
Elevation223 ft (68 m)[2]
DesignationMaryland state park
AdministratorMaryland Department of Natural Resources
WebsiteSeneca Creek State Park
Remains of Black Rock Mill

Seneca Creek State Park is a public recreation area encompassing more than 6,300 acres (2,500 ha) along 14 miles of Seneca Creek in its run to the Potomac River in Montgomery County, Maryland. The park features facilities for boating and fishing as well as trails for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. It is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.[3]


The park opened as Seneca State Park in 1958.[4] The Maryland General Assembly authorized funds for land purchases in each year from 1965 to 1968. The park saw "Stage A" development when, in the 1966, the General Assembly authorized funds for camping and picnicking sites, roads, utilities, buildings, and other features.[5] In 1975, Clopper Lake was created for recreational use and flood control by damming Long Draught Creek, a tributary of Seneca Creek.[6]

Activities and amenities[edit]

Clopper Lake

The developed portion of the state park centers on 90-acre (36 ha) Clopper Lake[7] and the Clopper Lake Day Use Area which 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 in Gaithersburg.[8] Clopper Lake averages a depth of 18 feet (5.5 m), has shallow enclaves, is stocked with largemouth bass, tiger muskie, channel catfish, sunfish, bluegill, and pumpkinseed sunfish, and allows boating.[6]


The park contains 50 miles (80 km) of trails, some in the CLDUA, and 12 miles (19 km) in the Schaeffer Farm Trails Area. Trails are used for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. The Lake Shore Trail loops around Clopper Lake.[8] 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][9]


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

The park has picnicking facilities, a tire playground, a 27-hole disc golf course, and a restored 19th-century cabin. Hunting is permitted in several areas of the park.[3]


Since 1995, the annual Winter Lights Festival has featured a drive-through holiday light show at year's end in the Clopper Lake Day Use Area.[10]

Historic sites[edit]

The remains of Seneca Quarry, built in 1837, is off Tschiffely Mill Road just west of where Seneca Creek empties into the Potomac. The mill cut the red sandstone for the Smithsonian Castle.[11] The restored quarry masters house stands above the quarry site. Both are part of the state park.[12]

The partially restored Black Rock Mill 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 area near the Clopper Lake Day Use Area commemorates the Clopper family with a self-guided trail that offers a look into life in the 19th century.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

The Blair Witch Project was partially filmed in the Seneca Creek State Park in 1999,[13] and the rock band O.A.R. referenced the park in the song "Black Rock" on their 1997 album The Wanderer.[14]


  1. ^ "DNR Lands Acreage" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. p. 9. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  2. ^ "Seneca Creek State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  3. ^ a b c d "Seneca Creek State Park". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "Maryland State Park History". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Historical Summary of Capital Improvements Authorized by General Assembly 1964 through 1978 (Report). State of Maryland Department of State Planning. 1978. pp. 53–54. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Inland Fishing, Clopper Lake". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  7. ^ "Clopper Lake". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  8. ^ a b "Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek State Park Map" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. July 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  9. ^ "Seneca Creek State Park Map" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. September 2016. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  10. ^ "Winter Lights Festival". City of Gaithersburg. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Peck, Garrett (2012). The Potomac River: A History and Guide. Charleston, SC: The History Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-1609496005.
  13. ^ "The Blair Witch Project: Filming Locations". IMDB. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "Black Rock by O.A.R." Songfacts. Retrieved May 18, 2016.

External links[edit]