DC: Clopper Lake Loop Trail at Seneca Creek State Park

In the winter months, a lot of trails can start to look and feel the same, especially if snow isn’t in the forecast. Lake trails are a great option for those looking to get outside and see something different — and in this weather, you don’t have to bother with mosquito spray.

Whether you’re looking to finally get outside after a week of frigid temperatures, easing back into your exercise routine after the new year, or want the whole family to get some fresh air, Clopper Lake is a great spot to check out. Located in Seneca Creek State Park, about 45 minutes to an hour outside of Washington, DC, Clopper Lake provides gorgeous water views, fishing, playgrounds, and even boat rentals (in the warmer months).

Lake in winter

The lake can get pretty crowded in the spring and fall as the trees transition and the views explode with color. While there’s beauty to see in every season, winter is an extremely peaceful time to visit, especially if you’re looking for a quieter, easy trail. There are very few people to pass, wildlife is a bit easier to spot, and the bugs are nowhere to be seen/heard. There are plenty of benches along the trail to sip in the views, take a pause, or search for turtles, beavers, herons, and more. Dogs are allowed in the park, so feel free to bring your furry family member along for the trip.

For an easy hour-and-a-half hike, Katie recommends the main 3.3 mile loop trail that provides minor elevation gain, lots of root steps, and a few wide open fields. Get there in the mid-afternoon to chase the sun as it makes its way behind the trees. There’s nothing like ending time outside with a beautiful sunset!

Sunset at lake

Pro Tips:

  • If it recently rained, be sure to bring your hiking boots as certain spots can be a bit muddy and slippery. Otherwise, sneakers with good traction will work fine.
  • For free admission, visit on a weekday and/or during the winter! Otherwise, you’ll pay ($3/Maryland resident or $5/non-Maryland resident) on weekends and holidays from April until October.
  • To avoid rushing yourself, check the entry gate for the exact closing time. They do monitor the park and close on time.
Katie Gaab
Katie Gaab
Katie Gaab is a professional writer and avid gardener based in the DMV. She loves to get outdoors and explore hiking trails for inspiration, motivation, and fresh air.

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