The 8 acre Rainbow Lake is also known as the Emmitsburg Reservoir. You need a free permit issued by the town in addition to your state fishing license. To obtain this permit, go to the Emmitsburg town office with your fishing license. The reason for this is that Rainbow Lake is a conservation area and provides water to the surrounding community. Therefore, there is no boating, swimming or camping allowed in the vicinity of the lake.
Once you deal with the hurdles of being legal, you will be pleased to discover that Rainbow Lake is a large and vibrant fishery. Happily, the shoreline is not clogged with underwater vegetation. Instead, it features clear water and a sand/gravel shelf that drops quickly into the deep water. The western end of the lake is shallow while the east holds the deep water. At the eastern end, the lake butts up to the high dam whose manicured summit provides a direct path and easy access to the far shore. Once off the spillway on the northern shore, follow the narrow, well beaten fisherman’s trail that leads part of the way around the perimeter of the lake. The shoreline is forested, but not enough to restrict access to the water. instead, the pricker bushes are more of a problem. Be prepared to cut your way through them if you do not want to use the established access points. The most frustrating thing about fishing here is knowing that you cannot reach the fish rising outside of casting range in the middle of the lake.
From Frederick MD, drive north on US 15. Once past Thurmont, turn left onto North Franklinville Road followed by a right onto Orchard Road. Continue onto Kelbaugh Road and make a slight left onto Black Road. Take the right fork from Black Road onto 3 Springs Road. The road undergoes a name change to Eylers Valley Road shortly after the fork. Eventually, Eylers Valley Road will make a 90° turn to the left at a “T” intersection. To not turn. Continue straight ahead on Hampton Valley Road. The lake is about 1.2 miles from this intersection on the left.
Parking is available all along the southern side of the lake along Hampton valley road. You will have to dodge pricker bushes if you park in a turnoff that does not have a beaten trail leading to the water’s edge.
Access Point: Off of Hampton Valley Road (39.695454,-77.388407)
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Maryland DNR stocking plan.
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View looking west from the dam
View looking east to the dam
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore