At a Glance
Hours: Grounds: sunrise to sunset, all year. Sunset time is posted and gates are locked at sunset. Office Hours: Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 3 pm. Nature Center Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm.
Cost: Free. Donations are appreciated, especially to offset the cost of the recent construction of the Nature Center.
Tips: Don’t miss the boardwalk! ◾ Restrooms are located in the Nature Center and near the playground. ◾ The Nature Center is wheelchair accessible, some paved paths are accessible, and the fishing pier is now wheelchair-accessible, following a recent renovation.
Best Seasons: Year-round, but especially good during spring and fall migration.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Cockeysville SE
Local MOS Chapter: Baltimore Bird Club
1000 Lakeside Drive, Baltimore, MD 21210
Lake Roland (formerly known as Robert E. Lee Park) is a 500-acre park located in the Jones Falls Valley, just north of the City of Baltimore boundary and inside the Baltimore Beltway. The park is managed by Baltimore County in partnership with the Lake Roland Nature Council (https://lakeroland.org/). Parts of the park are designated as National Historic Districts. The park is treasured as a rare slice of nature within the highly urbanized Baltimore metropolitan area.
The park hosts multiple types of habitat including a freshwater marsh accessed by a short boardwalk, deciduous forests with numerous trails, Lake Roland itself (a man-made reservoir that covers 100 acres), a dam, and streams. It also offers an opportunity to explore a serpentine barrens, a rare geologic formation that results in a sparse, shrubby grassland habitat punctuated with rock outcroppings and with many species of rare plants. The park also features a pollinator garden near the dam. There is a special nature trail for children.
For a suggested walking route, see the description of Lake Roland from the out-of-print Birder’s Guide to Baltimore, published by the Baltimore Bird Club.
The Lake Roland Nature Center, located near the dam, is a green-focused project using renewable construction materials and a minimal environmental footprint. The Nature Center has won the Associated Builders & Contractors Award of Merit. The Nature Center provides year-round education, arts and crafts, and event programming with access for special needs and handicapped participants. Its proximity to the boardwalk means that it is directly accessible from the Falls Road Light Rail Station — the first of its kind in the Baltimore metro area. One key design feature of the Center is that the front elevation facing the dam is comprised of a series of glass doors allowing activities to extend onto the deck that provides year-round views of the Lake Roland.
Other amenities in the park include a members-only dog park, canoe and kayak launch, a fishing pier, two covered pavilions, and a playground.
Over 210 bird species have been reported on eBird from Lake Roland Park. During migration, a rich diversity of species can be seen, including many types of warblers, vireos, other passerines, shorebirds, ducks, and raptors. The park hosts nesting Baltimore and Orchard Orioles and many other species, including herons, swallows, woodpeckers, and flycatchers. The water attracts a variety of ducks, herons, and occasional shorebirds.
The Nature Center is wheelchair accessible, some paved paths are accessible, and the fishing pier is now wheelchair-accessible, following a recent renovation. ◾ The Nature Center has classroom, educational and meeting space with audio/visual capabilities, plus support space. ◾ The Lake Roland Nature Council sponsors a full calendar of programs and events: see https://lakeroland.org/calendar/. ◾ Paw Point is Lake Roland’s membership-only off-leash dog park. ◾ Canoeing and kayaking are allowed at Lake Roland. A permit is not required. All boaters must wear a life preserver at all times while on the water and children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Please note that trailers and sailboats are not allowed. Visitors boat at their own risk. ◾ The park has a memorial tree and a memorial bench program. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Baltimore Bird Club. The Baltimore Bird Club is the founding chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and remains an important hub of birding activity in the state. The club offers monthly meetings with informative presentations and a full schedule of field trips and bird walks, all free and open to the public. ◾ Fun Fact: Lake Roland was the site of the very first formal bird walk offered by the Baltimore Bird Club/Maryland Ornithological Society in February 1945.
Falls Road Light Rail parking, just off Falls Road at 29 Railroad Avenue, Baltimore, MD, 21209; or paved parking lot at the end of Lakeside Drive inside the park, just past the Nature Center building on the left. ◾ A boardwalk across a marshy area joins the Nature Center with the Light Rail parking lot.
From the Baltimore Beltway/I-695, take Exit 23 and head south on the Jones Falls Expressway/I-83 south. Take the Northern Parkway exit, and go east (left) to the next traffic light at Falls Road. Go left (north) on Falls Road. After the third light (Lake Avenue), take the next right onto Lakeside Drive. Follow Lakeside Drive to its end at a parking area just past the Nature Center on the left. ,
Alternative Parking: If you wish to park at the Light Rail parking lot, follow the directions above, but instead of turning right onto Lakeside Drive, continue a short distance to the sign on the right for Light Rail parking. Follow the curve left and go straight over a small bridge, continuing to following signs to Light Rail Parking. As you enter the parking lot, go right and drive to the far end of the lot, and park near the park’s boardwalk entrance. Take the boardwalk to the Nature Center.
By Light Rail: The Falls Road Light Rail Station is located adjacent to the park, providing Light Rail access from downtown and suburban Baltimore. See https://www.mta.maryland.gov/schedule/stops/lightrail?direction=1.
By Bus: Take the #34 bus to the Falls Road Light Rail Station stop.
Cylburn Arboretum; Irvine Nature Center; North Central Rail Trail; Loch Raven Reservoir; Milford Mill Park; Soldier’s Delight NEA; Holt Park; Druid Hill Park; Patterson Park; Fort McHenry NM.
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumUrban or Small Town Landscape Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams
Features:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:County ParksNature CentersPonds, Lakes, and Reservoirs