Outdoor enthusiasts will find lots of things to do in Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland. There are over 3,000 acres of rugged mountains and solitude in the park and the 243-acre Lake Habeeb provides recreational activities year around. There is electric motor boating, fishing, swimming, and wonderful hiking trails through mile-long gorges that have sheer cliffs and overlooks. The park has a hiking trail through a hemlock forest that is full of rhododendron. Evitt’s Mountain also overlooks the lake. The mountain was named for an early European settler in Allegany County, Maryland.
Fun Activities in Rocky Gap State Park
The park hosts many activities for people who love the outdoors. One of the main attractions of the park is the magnificent views and trails through the mountains. The pristine views of nature in its most elemental state are breathtaking.
There are many trails for hiking through the park. Lakeside Trail is a 4.5 mile trail circling Lake Habeeb that offers one of the most scenic trails in the park. The trail crosses foot bridges along the shoreline and winds through woodlands.
Hiking the Canyon Overlook’s one-quarter mile long trail will lead the hiker to an overlook of the mile long mountain gorge. The view is absolutely stunning. There is another quarter-mile long Touch of Nature Trail that has a paved trail with benches that line the trail and leads to fishing docks. This hemlock-lined trail connects to the Lakeside Trail.
Evitt’s Homesite Trail is five miles long. The trail is surrounded by hemlock, rhododendron, and mountain laurel. This challenging trail rises 1,000 feet in elevation. Bring a camera and plan on being on the trail for a couple of hours. It is not for the faint of heart!
Fishing and Boating
Maryland provides some of the best fishing on the eastern seaboard. Lake Habeeb offers fishing all day, every day. All boats on the lake must be powered boats, and navigational lights must be used after dark. Fish in the lake include panfish, catfish, large and small mouth bass, and trout. Artificial fish habitats are maintained in the park stocked with brown and rainbow trout through the year. Fishing licenses are required for fishing in Maryland for anyone age 16 or older.
There is a public boat ramp in the park, and people can canoe and kayak on the lake. Rental boats are available. Pontoon boat tours are available and can be chartered.
What would any great state park be without camping? Rocky Gap State Park has 278 campsites; 30 campsites have electric hook-ups. Campgrounds have centrally located bath houses, there are youth camping areas, laundry facilities, game room, a camp store, and a private swimming beach. For campers without recreational vehicles there are fourteen mini cabins. The cabins all have bunk beds and a double bed, and electricity. They are available for rent.
There is even a family group camp site where up to 40 people can camp out together. Two-story cabins have balconies, porches, electricity, and access to nearby bath houses.
The Easter Hill Chalet sleeps up to eight people, and the two-story chalet has a furnished kitchen, fireplace, outdoor campfire and grilling area, and a wonderful wrap-around deck. The location is private, away from the hustle of the park and it overlooks the lake. The chalet is available for seven-day minimum stays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. What a wonderful family vacation that would be. During off-season, the chalet can be rented for a two-night minimum.
There is swimming on the lake at one of the two beaches in the park. There are lifeguards on duty at designated times, and the beaches have bath houses.
The park schedules seasonal events and recreational programs including hikes, tours to the Aviary where raptors and reptiles can be viewed, nature crafts, and even bonfires.
Pavilions with electricity are available for rent, and can accommodate up to 125 people. Rates are reasonable for renting the pavilions.
Rocky Gap State Park has a liberal pet policy that allows pets in certain areas along the trails, in campgrounds, and along the lake. Pets can be in the day-use areas during the off-seasons after Labor Day and before Memorial Day.
For more information about the Rocky Gap State Park, view their website at 222.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/rockygap.asp