At a Glance

Hours: Sunrise to sunset, year-round.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Prior to Covid, on weekends Loch Raven Drive was closed to vehicles between Providence Road & Dulaney Valley Road. The weekend road closures were suspended during Covid and as of spring 2024, have not been resumed. Until further notice, Loch Raven Drive remains open to vehicles 24/7. Scopes, and sometimes boots, are useful. Open for public hunting; be aware of hunting seasons and plan accordingly.  Obey all “No Entry” and “No Parking’ signs. ■ No restrooms.

Best Seasons: Winter and spring are best, but there is something to see year-round.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks (includes the entire extent of the City watershed property): Hereford SE, Phoenix SW, Cockeysville NE, Towson NW, Towson NE, Towson CW, Towson CE

Local MOS Chapter: Baltimore Bird Club

Loch Raven Reservoir

Morgan Mill Road & Loch Raven Drive, Baltimore, MD 21057
(410) 356-9272

Located north of the City of Baltimore, Loch Raven Reservoir is one of three city-owned reservoirs supplying drinking water to the city and surrounding counties. Loch Raven has been a notable feature of the Baltimore County countryside for well over 140 years. The reservoir was initially formed in 1881 by damming the Big Gunpowder Falls, a major tributary river of the Chesapeake Bay. A larger dam was constructed in 1914, with further improvements over the ensuing years.

The watershed lands surrounding Loch Raven, covering 1,600 acres, are owned by the City of Baltimore and are managed in partnership with the MD Department of Natural Resources as a Cooperative Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). The watershed lands are open to the public for archery hunting (deer), hiking, horseback riding, nature photography, boating, fishing, and bird watching. Although these recreational opportunities are provided, management practices are aimed primarily at protecting the watershed and the quality of drinking water in the reservoir. There are few visitor amenities; for example, no public restrooms.

The wooded areas bordering the reservoir consist of mature, mixed deciduous and coniferous forest and some clear-cut areas, with numerous trails that can be used for birding. Although located in a residential area adjacent to the city, Loch Raven provides a peaceful birding experience and access to prime habitat. The watershed lands are scattered with the remnants of 18th- and 19th-century mills, farmsteads, and villages; often one will come upon an old graveyard or stone building foundations while hiking through the woods.

There are numerous foot-trails and old fire roads surrounding the reservoir. The Trail Map provided at the link at left was prepared by local resident Phil Manger and is available on his website in a jpg version. There is a separate link at left for the City of Baltimore’s Mountain Biking Trail Map.

The network of roads surrounding the reservoir provide access to the foot-trails and to the water; major access roads are

  • Dulaney Valley Road (MD Route 146, in part);
  • Jarrettsville Road (MD Route 146, in part);
  • Merrymans Mill Road;
  • Warren Road;
  • Paper Mill Road (MD Route 145);
  • Loch Raven Drive;
  • Providence Road; and
  • East Seminary Avenue (MD Route 131).

Consult the Parking Locations Map (this is a map produced by DNR for use by hunters) at the link at left for places to park. See directions below for a suggested driving route around the reservoir.


Over 275 species of birds have been reported on eBird from Loch Raven and its surrounding lands, with over 20 eBird hotspots covering parts of the reservoir. Ten of the most productive hotspots are as follows:

Winter brings a selection of waterfowl, loons and grebes. Wood Ducks nest here and can be found in the warm months. Herons can also be found in the warm months; Great Blue is year-round. Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Red-tailed Hawks are also found year-round. Other hawks pass through during spring and fall migration. Ospreys are present spring through fall. A selection of shorebirds may be present, particularly in the Paper Mills Flats area at the north end of the reservoir. Swallows are present near the water  in the summer. Flycatchers, vireos, and warblers are present in migration and some stay through the breeding season. Woodpeckers may be found year-round. Pine and Prairie Warblers are common in the spring, as are Chipping Sparrow, Veery, and Cedar Waxwing.

Wheelchair Access:

The trails at Loch Raven are not wheelchair-accessible, but there is fairly good birding at the parking areas and at the roadside pull-offs. There are good views from roadside parking spots along Loch Raven Drive just south of the intersection with Morgan Mill Road (Loch Raven Point area). No restrooms.

Pet Policy:

Pets are allowed on leash; pick up after your pet and take the pet waste with you when you leave.

Special Features:

Baltimore County Parks and Recreation operates a fishing center off Dulaney Valley Road just east of the bridge over the reservoir; the fishing center provides boat rentals and a launch area. Rentals includes canoes, kayaks, and jon boats with electric-motor boats; personal boats of these types may also be launched here, with a required permit. are permitted. Fishing is also allowed (requires state non-tidal fishing license).

The forests of the Loch Raven Watershed are managed by the City of Baltimore to ensure the quality of drinking water from the reservoir. The diversity of the watershed’s plant life is detailed in The Vascular Flora of Loch Raven Watershed, Baltimore County, Maryland, a study by D. Earl Redmond (2004), made available online by the Maryland Native Plant Society.

Local MOS Chapter:

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.


Episode 3202 – Blue Ribbon River: This special episode of Outdoors Maryland from Maryland Public Television explores the rich beauty and natural diversity of the Gunpowder Falls watershed in Baltimore County. Some of the footage focuses on the role of controlled water releases from Loch Raven in maintaining optimal downstream water temperatures for trout. There is also footage from Prettyboy Reservoir in the northern part of Baltimore County.


Parking for many trailheads is generally on the shoulder of  the road and it may be difficult to find an open spot where you want to go, as many of the road shoulder parking areas accommodate only one or two cars. Illegally parked cars are ticketed.

There are a few spots with well-defined parking areas; these include (click on links to go to Google Maps):

Additional suggestions for parking are in the Directions below. The DNR Deer Management Area map shows some locations of additional legal roadside parking areas.


The trails & access points described here are birders’ favorites and are good starting points, but the watershed lands around the Reservoir contain hundreds of miles of foot-trails winding through the mostly forested hillsides. The driving route described below will take you on an S-shaped tour of the reservoir, starting at the southeast end and ending at the northwest corner. See the Parking Locations Map and Trail Map at the links at left for details. A good printed road map or an app on your cell phone may also be helpful.

To reach the starting point from the Baltimore Beltway/I-695: take Exit 29 to MD Route 567/Cromwell Bridge Road & follow northeast to the intersection with Loch Raven Drive.

Secondary Dam: Good spot for shorebirds when water is low; also dabblers. From northbound Cromwell Bridge Road, turn left (northwest) onto Loch Raven Drive and look for safe spot to park near secondary dam on right. There is a small paved lot near main dam, about 0.8 miles farther north. Otherwise, park at Willow Grove Farm area of Cromwell Valley Park and use hiking trails to reach secondary dam. See trail map at link below.

Northampton Furnace Trail: From the main dam on Loch Raven Drive, go north to Providence Road & turn left (southwest). Follow Providence Road to East Seminary Avenue & turn right (west). Take Seminary to MD Route 146/Dulaney Valley Road & turn right (north). There is shoulder parking for two or three cars on the east side of Dulaney Valley Road, directly across from the intersection with Chapelwood Lane. The trailhead is marked by a large Loch Raven Watershed sign; the trail goes east along a peninsula to end near the water.

Dulaney Valley Road Bridge: From Chapelwood Drive, go north on MD Route 146/Dulaney Valley Road to the bridge that crosses an arm of the reservoir. The south side of the bridge  has a a pedestrian footbridge that includes a couple of small viewing platforms. The pedestrian bridge is a favorite spot for fishing. There is a small parking area on the north side of the road at the west end of the bridge, and shoulder parking on the south side of the road at the east end of the bridge. The parking spot at the south end of the bridge also has a trailhead for the Merryman’s Mill Trail, which winds through the woods for about 9 miles along the west side of the reservoir, with additional access points on Pot Springs Road and Warren Road.

• Old Picnic Grounds: From the Dulaney Valley Road bridge, continue north and east on MD Route 146/Dulaney Valley Road. After the bridge, bear right to stay on Dulaney Valley Road (Route 146 goes to the left here). Pass the turn for the Loch Raven Fishing Center on the right & turn right at the next road to reach the Old Picnic Ground trailhead. The trail leads south along a peninsula to reach the reservoir; good for waterfowl.

Loch Raven Skeet & Trap Club: From the Old Picnic Grounds, turn right (east) onto Dulaney Valley Road & go a short distance to paved road into Skeet Club on the right. Parking is allowed near the turnoff from Dulaney Valley Road. Past the club building are trails that criss-cross the peninsula. Good for sparrows, other passerines & waterfowl.

Paper Mill Flats: The most productive part of the reservoir with more than 230 species seen, both waterfowl and landbirds. From the Skeet Club, turn left (west) onto Dulaney Valley Road & just before the bridge, make a sharp right (north) onto MD Route 146/Jarrettsville Pike. Follow Jarrettsville Pike to MD Route 145/Paper Mill Road & turn left (west). Just after passing the intersection with Poplar Hill Road on the left, and before going up the hill to the bridge, watch for a pull-off on the right side of the road. Park here. A short trail will take you to the Flats. Watch for tripping hazards such as roots and vines on the trail.

Nearby Sites:

Baltimore County: Cromwell Valley Park ■ Fort Howard Park ■ Gunpowder Falls State Park – Hammerman Area & Dundee Creek Marina ■ Hart-Miller Island State Park ■ Holt Park ■ Irvine Nature Center ■ Lake RolandLiberty Reservoir – Baltimore County ■  Marshy Point Nature Center ■ Milford Mill aka Villa Nova Park ■ North Point State Park ■ Northern Central Rail Trail (NCRT)Oregon Ridge Park ■ Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area

Baltimore City: Cylburn Arboretum ■ Druid Hill Park ■ Fort McHenry National Monument ■ Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center ■ Patterson Park


Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Suburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams


Bicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Boat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingPets AllowedWater View


Hunting AreasPonds, Lakes, and ReservoirsThe Rivers of the Western Shore