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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Lake Needwood and Black Hill Boats – Regulations for Private Boats

Private Boats are permitted on Little Seneca Lake at Black Hill Regional Park and Lake Needwood at Rock Creek Park from March 1 – December 15.  All boats must have a Seasonal Permit or Daily Permit.

Please note that M-NCPPC does not have control of the water levels at Little Seneca Lake or Lake Needwood.  Therefore, no fees paid to M-NCPPC for recreational uses of the lakes (Boat Permits or Mooring fees) will be reimbursed or refunded.

  1. Seasonal Permits can be purchased at Activemontgomery.org  and the decals will be mailed to your address. The Seasonal Permit allows access to either Lake Needwood or Little Seneca Lake. Seasonal Permits are $75.00.  The Seasonal Boat Permit decals must be attached on both sides of the boat as shown below: (drawing of boat on the existing pdf)
    • Mooring sites, available at each lake on a first come first served basis, may also be purchased with a Seasonal Pass for an additional fee.  Mooring passes are only valid at the lake where they are purchased from March 1 – December 15.
    • All boats utilizing mooring sites must be elevated using cinder blacks or wood blocks.
    • Moored boats must be removed from the site by December 15.
    • Daily Passes are purchased at each lake for $5.00.
    • Boating times are:
      • March 1 – October 31, 6 am – Official Sunset
      • November 1 – December 15, 7 am – Official Sunset
      • The Lakes are closed to boating from December 16 through February
    • All boats must comply with State of Maryland and M-NCPPC Rules and Regulations.  Boaters must observe the boat manufacturers’ and Coast Guard capacity requirements for their craft.
  2. Only battery powered electric motors are permitted.  Gasoline motors/generators are prohibited for use on the lakes, but gasoline engines do not need to be removed from boats to use the lake.
  3. Sailboats with a fixed keel or mast over 18 feet are prohibited.
  4. Inflatable watercraft must have at least 3 separate air chambers.
  5. Windsurfers and sailboards are prohibited.
  6. A U.S. Coast Guard approved lifesaving device (life jacket) is required for each occupant of a boat.
  7. Swimming and wading are strictly prohibited.
  8. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
  9. Special “Trophy Bass Fishing Area” regulations are in effect at Lake Needwood, Lake Frank, and Little Seneca Lake.
    • A “CLOSED  SEASON” has been established for bass.  It is ILLEGAL to possess largemouth or smallmouth bass from March 1 – June 15.  “Catch and Release” bass fishing is permitted.
    • The “OPEN SEASON” for largemouth and smallmouth bass is from June 16 to the last day of February.  Fishermen may keep:
      • A total of five (5) largemouth or smallmouth bass in aggregate per day, of which only  one (1) may be 15” or over.
      • Bass less than 11” in length are subject to the five (5) per day limit.
        SPECIAL NOTE:  It is illegal to possess largemouth or smallmouth bass from 11” up to 15” at any time of the year.
  10. Anyone 16 years of age or older must possess a valid Maryland State Fishing License, and a trout stamp is required.

Rules for Rental Boats

Violation of any applicable laws or regulations or failure to obey a park employee’s order may result in termination of rental agreement, forfeiture of fees, and/or legal action.

  1. You must be at least 16 years of age to rent a boat for yourself. You must be at least 18 years of age and the guardian, to rent a boat for anyone ages 12—15. (a driver’s license or photo ID is required for each boat rented).
  2. All boats must be operated in designated areas – no beaching of boats along shoreline.
  3. NO SWIMMING, diving from boats, horseplay or switching from one boat to another is allowed. Switching boats is only permitted at the rental dock.
  4. USCG approved flotation devices are provided and must be worn at all times by occupants.
  5. All boats must be back to the dock by 6:00 pm or a minimum $10 late fee will be assessed.
  6. The minimum fees assessed for all boat rentals is 30 minutes for pedal boats and one hour fee for all other boats, regardless of how long the boat is used.
  7. Renters are responsible for loss or damage to equipment whether or not due to their negligence.
  8. M-NCPPC is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen personal items.
  9. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.