You are currently viewing Annapolis Waterworks Park: A Hidden Urban Oasis

Annapolis Waterworks Park: A Hidden Urban Oasis

  • Post category:Adventures

The 600-acre Annapolis Waterworks Park is home to the City of Annapolis’ old dam/impoundment which created a freshwater reservoir mostly fed by stormwater. Built in the 1920s, the dam has since undergone structural reinforcement and improvements, the most recent of which occurred within the past decade. Approaching the park by car, one must look closely for signage off Defense Highway to locate its entrance. Parking is adjacent to the dam and though there is signage indicating a permit is required to park, I believe this signage pre-dates the park’s complete overhaul and trail build project, which took place in 2018 or thereabouts. The park is advertised as accessible and attractive to hikers, mountain bikers, and the outdoor enthusiasts. It’s possible—though not recommended—to park at will to enjoy hiking and access to the northwestern branch of the park for free. To the left of the parking area are newly built trails that access the entire western shoreline of the reservoir and jut up into the hills toward the City’s solar panel farm—acres of solar panels installed in the late-2010s—atop what was formerly the City’s landfill.

Largemouth bass tend to run under two pounds at this impoundment, but are still fun to catch at this fishing oasis.

To fish the eastern side of the park, however, one does need to obtain the permit, available for a nominal fee directly from the Annapolis Recreation & Parks Department. With the permit, you’ll be given the combination lock code, for which you’ll be able to access to reservoir, two additional impoundments, gravel trails, a modest pavilion, and bench seating throughout. Consider the entire park open sunrise to sunset.

Species in this reservoir run the expected gamut of freshwater gamefish: largemouth bass are the main draw, but there’s also a healthy mix of chain pickerel, crappie, bluegill, and other sunfish. These are the species I have specifically caught here. I prefer to target the bass, and you’ll see on the bulletin board at the reservoir’s entrance a batch of photos (mostly dating to the early-2000s) of a few exceptional catches, notably an 8-pounder taken in late-fall. Walk the bank and cast small crankbaits or Tex-rigged worms along laydowns, as well as parallel to the bank. I also have casted deeper running crankbaits (4–6’ divers) as far as possible toward the reservoirs center and hauled in a few 3-pounders (once, in the heart of a February winter!). The gravel trail eventually gives way to classic hiking trails through the woods along the bank and this is where the reservoir changes from an average depth of 4–8 feet to 2–4 feet. And you can see it, as this shallow half of the reservoir becomes dominated by lily pads and grass growth. You can find fish lurking under this cover—I’ve caught bass and pickerel—but casting from shore into the thick of cover can be a challenge.

The tailrace of Annapolis Waterworks Park holds plenty of bluegill, but occassionally sees northern snakehead migrate into to pool.

For a day well-spent in nature that’s only a stone’s throw from the concrete sprawl of the Annapolis Westfield Mall, Annapolis Town Center, and the entire West Street commercial corridor, Waterworks Park delivers. I’ve ventured here at all times of day, all days of the week, and throughout the entire year; the most people I’ve encountered on any one visit was maybe a couple families hanging around the pavilion and an angler here and there along the bank; ditto for a few mountain bikers that’ll occasionally whiz by. It’s literally an urban oasis.

More information and permits: