Lake Needwood & Lake Frank, Maryland, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - Maryland - Capital -

Also known as:  Needwood Reservoir, Lake Bernard Frank, Bernard Frank Reservoir

Lake Needwood and its little neighbor, Lake Bernard Frank, offer a quiet respite from the busy, noisy metropolitan Washington DC landscape. The little lakes, Lake Needwood with 75 acres and Lake Frank with 54 acres, are both enclosed within Rock Creek Regional Park. Located just outside of Rockville Maryland, Lake Needwood in particular sees many thousands of visors over the summer months to fish, boat and enjoy the many trails. Both lakes were constructed along Rock Creek to aid in flood control and to trap sediments from storm water run-off. Lake Needwood was created in 1965 when an earth dam was built across the creek, with Lake Frank following two years later.

Rock Creek Regional Park offers 1800 acres, built around the lakes with recreational activities to accommodate the largest possible number of nature seekers just a short distance from home. Oddly, the very flood control intent of the original earth dam has caused evacuations due to fears that the dam would give way under excess rainfall. On one occasion, water levels rose 25 feet, spurring an emergency evacuation of many residents downstream. The dam has since been repaired and reinforced and is monitored carefully.

Lake Needwood sees more visitors than Lake Frank because of its location closer to the parking areas. Lake Frank cannot be reached without at least a quarter-mile walk along one of the trails. Although there is no swimming at either lake, Lake Needwood offers a boat rental concession which rents canoes, kayaks, paddle-boats and row boats, sells fishing bait and provides pontoon tours of the scenic little lake. No gasoline motors are allowed; battery-operated boats or paddle-operated craft are the rule. Private boats may be launched at Lake Needwood with a purchased permit. The general rule is to allow boats under 16 feet in length. Sailboats also face similar restrictions. Mooring permits may be purchased seasonally.

Both lakes are popular with fishermen; Lake Frank fishing must occur from the bank as boat launching is not allowed. The lakes support largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and trout; the trout are stocked yearly. Water fowl enjoy the lakes as well and are always a joy to observe.

Picnic grounds, a snack bar, playground, visitors center, archery range, golf course and several miles of hiking and biking trails in the park make this the perfect place for a family get-together, corporate outing or personal exercise for the city dweller escaping the city. The Rock Creek Hiker/Biker Trail begins at Lake Needwood and extends 20 miles into Washington, DC. One of the main features of Rock Creek Regional Park is the Meadowside Nature Center. Here, visitors can visit owls, hawks, and an American bald eagle in the raptor aviaries. Inside the center, the Legacy of the Land exhibit allows the curious to crawl through a cave or look at the world from a fish’s point of view. The Curiosity Corner discovery room contains games, books, puzzles, and live animals for children to explore nature in a child-friendly environment. Everyone enjoys the opportunity to learn about the lives of the Maryland pioneers and Eastern Woodland Indians in the Legacy of the People exhibit. Organized natural history programs are offered for families, schools and youth groups.

A shallow reservoir, Lake Needwood is estimated to average about 8 feet. Once dredged on a regular basis, the dredging was halted in the 1990s due to budget limitations. In 2011, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Montgomery County Department of Parks drained the lake to dredge out the accumulated sediments and improve water depth for fishing and boating. The lake was closed to visitors but is expected to be open by summer 2012.

Lake Needwood and Lake Frank receive visitors not only from Washington DC but from nearby Rockville and Gaithersburg, Maryland. Located just east of the busy I-270 corridor between Frederick, MD and Washington, the area is rapidly growing and green, open spaces are becoming more rare and less accessible. Both Rockville and Gaithersburg are cities with a rich historical past and feature a number of period homes and buildings, along with historical societies and historical museums. Although there are no lodgings directly on either Lake Needwood or Lake Frank, the area has a large number of lodging choices for overnight or a long week-end. Washington DC is filled with attractions such as the Smithsonian Museum complex, the many government buildings open for tours, and any number of historical monuments and locations.

Many visitors to the Washington area, particularly those with young children in tow choose to rent hotel rooms outside of the city to save on hotel costs (Washington holds some of the country’s most expensive lodgings). Either the Rockville or Gaithersburg areas are a logical choice, particularly with a lovely park such as Rock Creek Regional Park nearby where children can run off excess energy. Real estate is available in the area, although again, prices may be rather high. But a visit to Lake Needwood should definitely be on one’s list of desirable activities when visiting the area. Come on over and bring a cane pole and some bait (the lake concessions sells both) and wet a line for a pleasant and quiet afternoon on lovely Lake Needwood. Wander the path around Lake Frank and learn about the area and its native creatures at the nature center. Lake Needwood and Lake Frank are the perfect place to restore your hectic mind and refresh your soul Come visit these lovely little lakes and rejuvenate!

*Statistics are for Lake Frank only as those are more complete. Actual statistics for Lake Needwood are unavailable.

Things to do at Lake Needwood & Lake Frank

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Needwood & Lake Frank

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Lake Needwood & Lake Frank Photo Gallery

  • ViviLnk

Lake Needwood & Lake Frank Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Montgomery County Department of Parks

Surface Area: 54 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 306 feet

Average Depth: 13 feet

Maximum Depth: 26 feet

Water Volume: 649 acre-feet

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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