Lake Roland Park and Playground
1000 Lakeside Drive, Baltimore, MD, 21210
Dawn-Dusk; Nature Center: Tue.-Sun., 9am-5pm; closed Mondays
playground, run, hike, outdoor-adventures
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Lake Roland Park, Just Outside North Baltimore City
Lake Roland Park Baltimore is rich with history - Encompassing 500 acres of what was the nation's first "planned streetcar suburb" developed by the Roland Park Company along with the Olmstead brothers, sons of world famous landscape architect Frederick Olmstead (of Central Park, Prospect Park, Biltmore Estate fame), between 1890 and 1920. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974.
Lake Roland itself is a now defunct man-made reservoir that served as the first municipal water supply for the city of Baltimore. Currently, Baltimore County, in partnership with the Lake Roland Nature Council, maintains this beautiful and unique park. The area now includes numerous hiking trails, a playground, a canoe and kayak launch, a nature center, and a dog park.
Upon arriving at the park, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking views of the dam while crossing the pedestrian bridge to the Lake Roland Nature Center. Once inside the building, you’ll get to meet the center’s animal residents and pick up a trail map from the rangers, who also provide year-round educational, and nature and environmental programs.
Exit the building and take a walk up the hill to spend some time at Acorn Hill Playground. Kids can play in the mud kitchen, pretend to be a train conductor in the railroad section, and climb up the leaf ladders, just to name a few of the many play structures in the play area space.
If you’ve brought Fido along, walk just a bit further to enjoy Paw Point Dog Park. (Dogs are not permitted in the playground area or nature center, so be sure to have an extra adult to take care of any pooches in the party). All of these areas are accessible via a paved loop that is stroller accessible but, be warned, very hilly.
When you’re ready to hike, you’ve got plenty of options as there are numerous trails. The Red Trail is great for families with younger children or jogging strollers. The path is wide and the terrain is relatively easy. Biking is also permitted on this trail, as well as a few other in the park.
The slightly more challenging Yellow Trail provides visitors access to the serpentine barrens – a unique ecosystem that affords hikers the opportunity to see rare flora and fauna not typical of other Maryland hikes. No bikes are permitted on the Yellow Trail.
The rangers at the Lake Roland Nature Center are very friendly and can easily direct you to the hike that will be the best fit for your family.
An elevated boardwalk is provided between the light rail parking lot and Lake Roland. Even if you aren’t accessing the alternate lot, the boardwalk is a great spot for birdwatching (as well as train watching) and is worth checking out.
The Lake Roland Nature Council occasionally hosts events for visitors.
Check the website before you go to see what is on the calendar. The park can be busy on nice days, but its expansive nature means that it doesn’t often feel overcrowded.
You’ll find a bathroom with a changing table in the Lake Roland Nature Center as well as portable toilets throughout the grounds.
Picnic tables are provided near the playground, dog park, and on a patio overlooking the reservoir. You’ll definitely want to pack a lunch because Lake Roland Park with kids is a spot where you can all happily spend all day!