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Best Places to Boat in Montgomery County

Enjoy scenic views while kayaking down the C&O Canal in Montgomery County, MD.
Kayaking along the C&O Canal | Credit: Paul Graunke

Montgomery County, Maryland has it all — great trails to hike and bike, unbeatable restaurants and bars and even amazing spots to go boating. Here are the best places in the county to enjoy a little time on the water, whether you have your own boat or are looking to rent.

C&O Canal National Historical Park

Take a trip back in time in the Charles F. Mercer Canal Boat, operated by the National Park Service. This mule-drawn packet boat will travel upstream while guides in period clothing describe life in the 1870s and show you what rising eight feet within a lock feels like. These hour-long rides begin and end in the Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center in the C&O Canal National Historic Park.

Potomac River

The Potomac River can be accessed from 24 different boat ramps. Depending on where you enter the river, you can choose to paddle along flat water or soar through white water rapids. Calleva hosts river tours, as well as boating classes on the river to help people begin or continue their kayaking journey.

Washingtonian Lake

Choose from a selection of white swan, dragon, pirate ship and pink flamingo shaped paddleboats at Washingtonian Paddleboats, located near Guapo’s at rio Lakefront. Weather permitting, paddleboat rentals are available every day from noon to 8 pm, and you can even bring your dog!

Paddle Boats at rio | Gaithersburg, MD

Clopper Lake and Great Seneca Creek

Located at Seneca Creek State Park, 90-acre Clopper Lake is the perfect spot for serene, flatwater boating, while Great Seneca Creek presents an ideal stream experience. The Boat Center at Seneca Creek State Park offers guests canoe, rowboat, kayak and four person pedal boat rentals, all of which are $12/hour. Private non-motorized watercrafts are also permitted on the lake and creek.

Little Seneca Lake

Black Hill Boat Rentals presents guests with access to kayaks, canoes, rowboats, stand-up paddleboard and pedal boat rentals, all of which are under $16/hour. They also host private 50-minute pontoon boat group tours, great for families and groups of friends. Renting a vessel or enjoying a tour on the “Kingfisher” pontoon boat will afford you beautiful views of the 505-acre lake and the surrounding wildlife at Black Hill Regional Park.

Lake Needwood

Pontoon tours are also up for grabs on Lake Needwood, which is situated on Rock Creek Regional Park. For just $5 a person, you and your family members or friends can take a 20-minute, photo-worthy ride on the “Needwood Queen.” Kayaks, canoes, rowboats and pedal boats are available to rent at Lake Needwood Boats for those looking to further explore the 75-acre lake.

Check official websites for hours of operation, safety guidelines and more information! For other outdoor recreation inspiration in Montgomery County, take a look at Best Places to Go Camping and the MoCo Trail Guide.