About the Basin: Rocky Gap State Park

Rocky Gap State Park

Flintstone, MD

Rocky Gap State Park is situated in the cool mountains of Allegany County in western Maryland. It is most well-known for the Rocky Gap Casino and Resort, a privately owned and operated venue that is popular for events and conferences. However, Lake Habeeb is the real jewel of the park. Known as the “bluest water in Maryland,” the 243-acre lake is popular among anglers, kayakers, and hikers.

The five-mile trail around Lake Habeeb is the highlight of the hiking scene at Rocky Gap. The moderate trail follows the perimeter of the lake while winding through forests and over foot bridges. For a more challenging hike, take the 5-mile roundtrip on Evitt’s Homesite Trail which climbs up Evitt’s Mountain. The one-quarter mile Touch of Nature Trail is perfect for a short easy stroll to an accessible fishing pier. Visit the Lemel Bucy Family Cemetery by taking a short stroll from the Touch of Nature parking lot. Here you’ll find a bit of the land’s history with several gravestones from the Civil War era.

The day-use area provides several options for large get togethers and family day trips to the beach. There are picnic tables, playgrounds, and grills, as well as Hawk’s Nest Café and a ranger station. Canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards are available for rent during the season. The park can reach capacity on weekends and holidays, so check their Twitter account before heading out. Don’t forget to bring Fido in on the fun. Pets are permitted in the day-use area and in many of the camping areas.

The nature center provides a variety of activities. Especially noteworthy activities encourage anyone to experience the outdoors—regardless of their background or economic status—by borrowing equipment like boats (during Free Paddle events) and fishing equipment. The “tackle loaner” program lets any kid try their hand at fishing by borrowing all the necessary equipment free-of-charge from the nature center. Other ranger-led activities include birding, yoga, trivia nights, an owl-pellet breakdown, and night sounds. An aviary is available to explore by appointment or during limited open hours. The Friends of Rocky Gap State Park Facebook page lists many of the park’s activities.

Fishing is a 24/7 activity at the park. Anglers at Lake Habeeb go after panfish, trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, pumpkinseed, and more. Artificial habitats have been added to the lake to improve fish habitat.

The campground boasts 278 campsites with a variety of options like tent-camping, RVs, mini-cabins and yurts. If you’re planning a family trip with family or friends who are less-than-excited about camping, check out the Easter Hill Chalet—the fully furnished house accommodates 8 people and provides a large deck, gas fireplaces, and an outdoor campfire area.

The area of Rocky Gap State Park is the ancestral home of the Shawandasse Tula and Massawomeck Peoples.

People play on a sandy beach along Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park.

Photo Credit: Beach at Rocky Gap State Park (MD) July 2016, Ron Cogswell (Flickr)