Lakeside Trail and Muncaster Mill Trail is a 3.4 mile loop trail located near Derwood, Maryland that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, birding, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Scenic Lake and Stream, Easy Hike The trail follows the shoreline of the lake for the most part. From the parking lot, locate a trail to the left of the nature center. It starts right by the information sign, where you may be able to pick up a trail map of all trails in the park. Follow the short trail down the hill to the stream bed and turn right on the Sleepy Hollow trail. Follow this trail along the stream and after it leaves the stream, turn left on the Big Pines trail. Follow this a short distance to the Lakeside trail. Follow the lakeside trail until in meets an asphalt trail. Turn left and cross the dam. Follow the asphalt until in comes into and old parking area. Tranverse this to a unused road at the far end. Follow the road, bearing left, where another road runs off to the right. The road will end at another old parking a and the dirt trail picks up at the back. Follow the trail until you see the stream crossing with a sign for the nature center. Cross and return to start.
It was a nice, quiet, scenic walk. The trails are well blazed. The trail varies from a natural dirt trail to a paved trail. Not rough on dog's paws, no boots needed. We stayed on the trail, which was an easy hike, but there were a lot of places to go off trail if someone is looking for a slightly more difficult hike. Due to high algae levels, water access was not permitted (though the lake & river still look beautiful).
We hiked this trail with our 5 kids (ages 1-9) and our whole family enjoyed it. The kids loved crossing over the water where lakeside trail and muncaster intercepted on the north side of the park. It was only knee high deep that they were able to play in the water there. We were able to hike the trail with our double bob....it wasn't easy but if you're up for the challenge it's definitely doable! We will be back :)
I consider this my home hiking area. Have done it to many times to count due to ease of access to it. Walking briskly you can do the loop in about an hour. There is one stream crossing that has to be done to complete the loop. it is a decent hike considering you are in the middle of a very suburban area.
Lake Frank is a gem in this area. The one thing to use caution with is that this lake has on several occasions been infested with microcystin. On these occasions it is heavily posted with signs indicating the dangerous conditions. If you are simply here to hike, however you will always be fine.
The trail(s) here are beautiful and well maintained. If you are doing the full trail system most of it is quite secluded in that on less busy days you might not run into many people at all. I come here to do a lot of solo walks when I want to clear my head. Occasionally when you are closer to the Muncaster Mill side or the north side of the lake there may be some teenaged troublemakers. But they shouldn't be TOO much of a nuisance most of the time.
M-NCPPC does a really good job with this trail system. There is also a nature center in this area that is excellent for nature education. My school used to bring me here on field trips and it was always a blast. None of the trails here are super difficult and thus are really good for kids and adults alike. However, there are some steeper sections on the Avery Road side that would not be good for people with injuries or disabling conditions.
The scenery is beautiful. During the fall this is my go-to place for fall color photography if I can't make it down to Skyline Drive. You will NOT be disappointed with this parkland.
Just know that on very nice days it can get quite crowded. All dogs should be on a leash. Park Police and their volunteers (I am one of them) patrol here frequently.
Nice joke around the lake side trail loop, it now fairly well marked. I was disappointed that a good section of the trail is along a road or paved walkway.