Centennial Park – Lake loop – 2.7 miles

1/18/2020Lake loop

Elevation gain: 128ft.


“When snow falls nature listens.” – Antoinette Van Kleeff


Location: 4651 Centennial Ln. Ellicott City, MD 21042 – West parking area

For more info click here:


We always park in the West area since we approach from Route 40 through Centennial lane. All of the 5 parking lots (pic on the bottom of this post) around the lake are very spacious and easy to find.

Aerial view of the West parking area

After arriving at 11:25 am and getting ready for our stroll – it’s 30F so wearing 5 layers is a must for me – it starts snowing. Mag has to smell all the evergreen trees next to the tennis courts, then we are ready to follow the sign towards Lake loop.

Centennial park has amazing amenities on 337 acres! Perfect for families, to keep those little energizer bunnies busy. The 54 acre lake is actually man-made to attract wildlife.

At the West area there are 5 Tennis courts, 1 playground, a sandy volleyball court, 2 basketball courts, 2 Soccer fields and 3 baseball fields.

The South area actually has 3 separate parking areas which I call Southwest, South-middle and South (main). There are 2 more volleyball courts at the Southwest area along with a big playground. At South middle is the boathouse. South – main – has another volleyball court up on the hill.

The East area has 2 additional tennis courts, yet another volleyball court, a baseball field and a small paved court.

At the North area 2 more tennis courts, 2 baseball fields, a small playground and 3 pitching areas?

There are also 12 picnic pavilions around the lake.

I’ve never seen a park like this! I think it’s amazing! No wonder it’s hugely popular among people living around here and beyond.

The West amenities

Following the Lake loop sign, walking between the tennis courts, next to the basketball courts on the left, we turn onto the curve that leads us down to the lake. And bammmm! We would have proceeded to cross the bridge on the left at the end of the lake but it’s closed for maintenance!

Detour map: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=TufSbZpYE60%3d&tabid=1797&portalid=0

Thankfully people coming from the other direction say we can bypass the temporary closure if we climb up onto Centennial lane. (If we would’ve known this when in parking area we could’ve just walk out to Centennial lane and turn right onto the small path after the bridge.) After the bridge we take the small path back to Lake loop.

The path around the lake is paved so no off roading here 😉. Right now the soil is also frozen meaning I don’t have to be worried about Mag getting muddy.

Snowflakes visible on this picture

I find it interesting that there are help locators here even though I’ve never seen these at any other remote location we’ve visited. Good reason could be the presence of the bigger body of water. Safety first….

Since it’s cold and snowing there are very few people around.

We walk comfortably as the view of the Lake expands on the shores of a small beach. The surface water is mostly frozen. There is a huge flock of Canadian Geese stationed closer to the other side, lazily floating on the still liquid surface.

We have to keep moving because Mag seems to be cold.

There is another wonderful idea in this park….almost all the benches and lots of trees are dedicated to people who have passed on. They all marked with memory plaques with their families loving words.

Continuing our snowy walk alongside the lake we first reach the F. Leonard Dunn amphitheater which is naked right now, missing it’s cover for the winter season. They hold concerts here periodically.

To check the schedule, click here: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/sunsetserenades

I love this idea to have the trash cans covered. Since the lake’s open surface I think channels winds throughout, this little house makes sure that trash is not picked up and carried all over the park and beyond.

Across from the “concert hall” on a small hill there are some more benches, positioned to enjoy the performances or just the serene view of the lake. There is also plenty of green space to sit and maybe enjoy a picnic as well.

From here we can also see the “boathouse”, where in season we can rent kayaks and water bikes. From late spring through early fall, Adventure Shack & Rentals (410-313-7303) is open for concessions, boat rentals and general store items.

Wonderful view from the wooden pier

After rounding the corner beyond the boathouse we arrive to Centennial South. Just before the boat dock there is a wonderful little beach, where now a small flock of Canadian Geese floats around a Great Blue Heron. He is sitting on a rock trying to conserve as much heat as he possible can.

We walk out to the wooden pier and take some beautiful photographs of the stretched out lake in from of us. In nice weather we could sit here on covered, inviting benches. Some of the pavilions on the hill are also overlooking this serene panorama.

I took a video of these Canadian Geese at this spot.

While waiting for Mag to finish his rolling session I noticed some pink on trees framing the path. Getting closer I didn’t want to believe my eyes! Cherry blossoms.

After getting over my disbelief, we continue or walk up the hill where Mag sits on one of benches….

….while I am being entertained by Blue Jays having an argument up on some tall trees. Mag takes the opportunity to get into trouble, rolling into thistle berries.

Cleaning his hoodie takes a minute, then we are off towards the dam. I love how this panorama came out while kneeling under a lone tree overlooking the embankment and the East area.

Curious George

Crossing the dam’s embankment leads us back into the woods on the North side. We are getting closer to the Lake’s arboretum and so the tree information plaques begin. This specimen American Beech tree is full of tattoos.

I feel solitude walking on the empty path slowly reaching towards the end of our walk.

I am actually not sure why this area is called the Arboretum since it doesn’t look any different than any other spot in the park. Maybe this small lagoon makes this stretch unreachable to the crowds since the path stays away from the shore. Somehow I’ve deleted the picture of the small bridge over the lagoon but I have these two images.

Mag has been acting a bit weird so we use the shortcut through the woods to make the final quarter of a mile even shorter. I think he is cold.

Even though we are approaching the parking lot there are still some pretty views to admire. One is of the boathouse the other is a small island in the middle of the lake.

We quickly climb up below the tennis courts passing by the volleyball court. Running through between the high fences we can already spot our car. It’s pretty easy since she almost looks lonely sitting there among just a handful of other vehicles.

Here is the conclusion to our walk. As always the length differs between the two apps.i end up titling it 2.7 mile, dab in the middle.

Here is a pick of the different parking areas to help visualize the locations. Addresses as follows.

West area – 4651 Centennial Ln. Ellicott City, MD 21042

South area (main) – 10000 Clarksville pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

East area – 4800 Woodland Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042

North area – 9801 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042


We revisited on the 25th and walked the extended path, stretching the length to 3.5 miles. We could have done more if walking all the way up to the North area. I am planning to park there next time and start our walk from that spot.

East area was closed without explanation so I guess it’s good to check the park’s website for more info before heading here. Not that it’s a biggie to just drive down to the next area to park if closure would happen.

Weather was absolutely beautiful! Here are some of the pictures I’ve taken.

The floodgate
On top of the dam
Serenity from the North side
Tiny muddy lake beyond the lagoon on the North side. Great Blue Heron sitting in the middle on the shore.

Well be back here! You all should follow suit. Such a wonderful place!

Have an unforgettable weekend!

Published by magzilla44

Magzilla, our AMSTAFF has rescued us in 2017 on a rainy day in May. It was a rough start because we didn’t know anything about him after him walking up on our property. But he has showed us what an amazing person he is and things became happily ever after pretty quick. He is very social, both with people and other pets. He loves his cat sisters and brothers and off course walking.

3 thoughts on “Centennial Park – Lake loop – 2.7 miles

  1. What a great place! I love the cherry blossoms and (as usual) the trees 🙂 the beech was really impressive.
    You have to walk there in spring, summer and in autumn. Maybe you can see then the different types of Trees in the Arboretum when the leaves are different.


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