Prettyboy Reservoir, Maryland, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Prettyboy Reservoir.

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Prettyboy Reservoir visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Mid-Atlantic - Maryland - Central -

Prettyboy Reservoir spreads out over 1,500 acres in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. It is named after Prettyboy Creek, which is a located in a section of Baltimore County known as “Devils Backbone”. Legend says that a farmer bought his daughter a colt with a beautiful silken coat. The girl fell in love with the horse and named him Prettyboy. One evening after a storm, the horse wandered off, stopped to have a drink in the stream, and slipped down the soft bank into the water. The horse was never seen again.

Prettyboy Reservoir is owned and operated by Baltimore City, which also owns the surrounding land. Prettyboy is one of three reservoirs created to supply the Metropolitan Baltimore municipal water system. Loch Raven Reservoir, located downstream, and Prettyboy Reservoir provide over half of the drinking water for the entire Baltimore Metropolitan area. Rather than entering directly into Baltimore, the water from Prettyboy is transferred to Loch Raven Reservoir first, via Gunpowder Falls. It then travels via tunnel to the Montebello Filtration Plants in Baltimore where it is treated and distributed to the metropolitan area.

Prettyboy Reservoir lies behind the scenic Prettyboy Dam, completed in 1932, on the Gunpowder River. This area constitutes 20% of all the land in Baltimore County, and is by far the most sparsely populated area in the county. Strict zoning laws prohibit any planned communities from developing here. What this means for the “Lakelubber” is 19 billion gallons of virtually undisturbed aquatic beauty.

If you’re an angler, Prettyboy Reservoir is considered by locals to have the best smallmouth bass in the area. The reservoir also contains brown and rainbow trout, largemouth bass, striped bass, and white perch. Because of the cleanliness of the reservoir, the fish quality is exceptionally high.

Although swimming is not allowed in Prettyboy Reservoir, boating is allowed and is extremely popular. You will need a permit for boating, and there are minimum size requirements for canoes. Prettyboy Reservoir provides a general north/south flow with many branches and streams to explore. Conifers and deciduous trees flank the banks and provide a foundation for the incredible wildlife in the area.

For those who love hiking and animal-watching, Prettyboy Reservoir provides habitat for a variety of forest wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel, and songbirds. The area is open to archery hunting for all game species (except waterfowl) during the regulated hunting season established by the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service. Hunters are required to have a permit to access the area. Throughout the year, this area is open to hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, and nature photography. Nearby Gunpowder Falls State Park offers a variety of topographic features, from tidal marshes and wetlands to steep, rugged slopes. There are more than 100 miles of trails, including the 21 mile Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail, now known as the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail in honor of Maryland’s third Department of Natural Resources Secretary.

Prettyboy Reservoir is only minutes from Baltimore City on Interstate 83, and it makes a fun weekend adventure for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Whether you decide to explore the reservoir’s many branches or relax and enjoy all that Gunpowder Falls State Park has to offer, this area provides a unique getaway that is peaceful and close to nature.

Custom Prettyboy Reservoir house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Prettyboy Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Prettyboy Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Trout
  • White Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Prettyboy Reservoir

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Prettyboy Reservoir photo gallery

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Prettyboy Reservoir statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Baltimore City

Surface Area: 1,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 46 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 518 feet

Average Depth: 98 feet

Maximum Depth: 130 feet

Water Volume: 90,100 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1933

Drainage Area: 80 sq. miles

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