Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Trekker - 2/21

Lake Frank - Montgomery County, MD
Miles of trails, wildlife, and a beautiful lake await you!

Lake Frank in autumn 2012. Photo by Kenny Lorber
Despite the vicinity to the bustling metro area, there are relatively large "islands" of wilderness nestled into the urban and suburban surroundings. Lake Frank, located in Rockville, MD is one of these islands. Access to the park is off of Avery Road or from the Meadowside Nature Center off of Muncaster Mill Road. The address for the nature center is 5100 Meadowside Lane Rockville, MD 20855. The nature center boasts a variety of educational activities (many geared towards younger visitors).

The flagship trail at Lake Frank is the "Lakeside Trail," which runs along the shoreline of the lake and a connected creek. About a third of the trail is paved, while the other two-thirds weave through the woods with occasionally steep terrain. For those wanting a bit of a more challenging trail, the "Old Nasty" trail connects with the Lakeside trail along the northern shore. Old Nasty is short but quite steep. There are various other trails that vary in difficulty within the park.

Visitors who park at the trailhead off of Avery Road are greeted by a steep incline that descends towards the dam. You will have a choice whether to start with the wilderness portion of the trail or the paved portion of the trail. Cross the dam first for the paved section, or take a left at a wooden post for the wilderness portion. If you complete the entire 3.23 mile circuit, you will have to cross a stream in the northern part of the park. This crossing may be difficult or impossible during times of high water. Overall, this walk is a bit challenging for people not accustomed to hiking, but an easy 3+ mile trail for seasoned hikers.

The road noise from nearby Norbeck Road is almost undetectable from within the park, and visitors are treated to a true wilderness setting while at Lake Frank. Weekdays provide the quietest park experience while weekends tend to show a spike in hikers and dog walkers. Just remember your trail manners!

Lake Frank pops out into brilliant color in the fall when the leaves begin to change. The water creates a wonderful foreground for photographers and casual observers alike. Once the leaves have fallen in winter, the lake itself is easily visible from almost all points on the trail (except where the trail follows the creek instead). Spring will feature flowers and trees blooming with an abundance of animals to observe as well.

Lake Frank in autumn 2012 from the southern shore. Photo by Kenny Lorber
It is strongly recommended that disabled and handicapped visitors access the park via Meadowside Nature Center due to the prohibiting terrain on the Avery Road side of the park.

Bikers can also access the trails at Lake Frank via the Rock Creek Hiker/Biker trail connector in the southern portion of the park. Using this connection, visitors can also access the Rock Creek trail system.

Lake Frank trail map available at

All in all, Lake Frank provides an incredible oasis away from the urban setting of the Washington area. It is a quiet place where everyone can enjoy the sound of running water, and the wind rustling through the trees. Make sure to pack water as there is only water available at Meadowside Nature Center. Pack light, though so you can fully enjoy the park and all it has to offer. Although locations like Sugarloaf Mountain in Comus, MD and the mountainous terrain of western Maryland are fairly close, Lake Frank provides a more easily accessible wilderness experience. The park is a good fit for people of all ages and lifestyles.

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