Greenbrier State Park, located outside of Boonsboro, Maryland has a small lake and beach. The lake is smaller than the lake at Cunningham Falls and there are no rental canoes and kayaks at Greenbrier State Park, but they do rent pedal boats. On the day we went, there was a long line of people waiting to rent the pedal boats.
The cost to get into the park on a weekend is $5 per person in-state, $7 per person out-of-state. They did not charge for our child.
The reason for going to Greenbrier State Park, was mainly because it is close by, has a beach for swimming, sand for playing and a small lake in which to canoe. I figured that it would be crowded. We got there at 11:00 a.m. and were told at the entrance that all picnic tables and grills were already taken. This was OK because we didn’t need a grill or picnic table. By 1:50 p.m., they had closed the park to new people as it had reached capacity. At 2:50 p.m., enough people had left that they were able to open the park to new people.
They have a special parking lot and boat ramp for those with boats. There was a dock and concrete ramp at the very end of the last parking lot and thus at the end of the lake. When you put in at the boat ramp, you can’t see the beach or even hear all the noise. But once you canoe around the corner, all the noise from hundreds of people at he beach, hit us. There are two or three beaches with sand, and ropes to designate the swimming areas. And there are lifeguards on duty during the season 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
They do not let you canoe near the swimming areas and have buoys in the water to outline where to keep away. We paddled across the lake to the inlet of a little creek that supplies this artificial lake. We explored in and out of the boat. We saw many fish, some damselflies, but alas, no turtles.
There is a hiking trail that surrounds the lake. It was easy to stop our canoe at various places around the lake to explore. By the time we were ready to go swimming, the park was almost at capacity and parking was scarce according to the campground hosts who were pumping up their kayak for a little paddling. So we decided to paddle back to our car and get a duffel bag of sand gear, dry clothes and towels.
Instead of walking the long way from the boat ramp to the beach area, we paddled to where they rent pedal boats and pulled our canoe to shore there on the grass. There is a nice dock between the two beach areas, but according to those we asked, boaters are not allowed to land on that dock, as it is the lifeguard dock.
Maryland State parks dumped lots of sand for the “beach” and in the water where they allow swimming to make the swimming experience more pleasurable than swimming in mud with bottom dwelling plants. Our kid, who brought monster trucks, found some new friends at the beach to play monster jam with. Swimming was enjoyable on this summer day. They have a shallow area roped off and an area a little deeper separated by a rope too. My kid wanted to stay in the shallow area, so I didn’t get to explore the deeper swimming area. They allow rafts and other inflatables in the water, but I had forgotten the air pump and didn’t mention that I had a raft with me.
After our swimming and sand play, we headed over to the restrooms, where they also have showers. There is a camp store and concession over in that direction, but we didn’t visit them. This park is a trash-free park. You must take all of your trash with you and if you didn’t bring a trash bag, they sell them at the camp store. I know this by the several announcements over the loud-speaker system.
After we changed our clothes, we got back in our boat and returned to our car about a 5 or 10 minute paddle away. The promise was to stop for ice cream on the way home. I had read on DC UrbanMom Forum about people recommending South Mountain Creamery, in Middletown, so we headed there. The prices were very reasonable and the ice cream was good. The problem was it is served at a dairy farm with outside tables, where the major odor is cow manure and there were hundreds of flies around. I would say it is a good place to get ice cream TO GO, not a particularly nice place to hang around and eat the ice cream.
So this was a nice outing which included a little bit of canoeing, swimming, and sand play. It is not a big canoeing place, but a nice place to go with young kids who are not all that into the canoeing in the first place. If you want this experience but don’t have your own canoe, head on over to Cunningham Falls State Park, just a little way away. It has a similar lake, beach and they rent canoes and kayaks as well as pedal boats.