Lake Elkhorn Park in Columbia, Maryland

October 15, 2022

Lake Elkhorn is located in Columbia's village Owen Brown. The 37-acre reservoir was built in 1974 by the Columbia Association with around 2,500 acres of watershed. Lake Elkhorn is the largest lake in Columbia that features a 3-km walking path surrounding the lake, a 23-acre park with pavilions perfect for picnics, and a small dam. The serviceable boat dock provides quiet relaxation for the visitors of the lake. The path that surrounds the townhouses and park was built in 1982. The depth of the lake averages 8 feet and its deepest point is at 15 feet. During the spring season, trout stocks the Lake Elkhorn and the area becomes more attractive due to the migrant passerines. Associated with Forebay Pond, Lake Elkhorn attracts numerous variety of shorebirds, waterfowl, and waterbirds. Here are more details about Lake Elkhorn and Forebay Pond in Columbia, Maryland.


The lake comprises both submergent and emergent vegetation and amounts vary depending on the season. Groups of mature trees are dispersed with a few mown grass and shrubby vegetation. There are small numbers of streams that enter the lake. The water amount changes depending on the beaver activity and annual precipitation.

Best Time to Visit

Early evening and early morning, during migration, are the times when the birds are most active. The number of visitors that use the path increases through the day together with noise from vehicles and mowers hence, morning is the perfect option. After the first hours in the morning, hawks, gulls, and terns are more likely to be seen. Dusk is the best time to visit the lake during summer since night-herons appear briefly. For winter waterfowl, any time of the day is good. Remember that the lake's north side is more open compared to its south side which gives the best sky view. Due to the path which is closer to the lake water on the north side, birds that are resting on the water are easier to see.

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A paved path of 2 miles encircles the lake. Below the transition lines, a paved path stretches east where wetlands extend to the Oakland Mills Road. Paths that intersect to the developments nearby are marked and identified with street names. On the lake's south side, Ivory Hand is one of the most dynamic paths. Moreover, located in the southeast area of the lake, an unnamed path exceeds way beyond the Forebay Pond.

Parking and Amenities

The lake's west end features two parking lots. Through the Broken Land Parkway, the sky and open water is the perfect view following the south shore. Along the lake's south side a Fitness Circuit Trail with 16-station is located near the parking lot of Broken Land Parkway. There are also numerous picnic tables and a small picnic pavilion below the dam. A 150-person picnic pavilion is available for rent on the lake's southwest end.

Notable Birds

During migration, the lake's wooden side is the best spot to view passerines. A total of 36 species of warblers is recorded at the lake. Along the stream that headed south from the Ivory Hand Place path nests a Red-shouldered Hawk. during colder months, Winter Wrens should be watched for. During fall and spring, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Palm Warblers may sometimes appear in fair numbers. Moreover, during the first half of May, a variety of passerines may also appear.

Nearby Sites

Lake Elkhorn's nearby sites are Jackson Pond, Elkhorn Garden Plot, Patuxent Branch Trail, and Sewell's Orchard Community Park.

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