Don’t get too excited over the fact that the DNR map shows Deer Creek consists of almost 15 miles of fishable water. Much of it runs through private property and trout are only stocked in the Rocks State Park, Eden Mill, and the Hidden Valley Natural Area. Over the course of the 15 miles, the scenery changes from rocky and trouty downstream to flat and sandy at the northern end. The section in Rocks State Park, at the downstream boundary, provides the best fishing experience. The creek does not support any other interesting fish outside of the stocking season. While smallmouth bass exist in Deer Creek, they are few, small and scarce.
Rocks State Park
Most of the visitors to the 855 acre Rocks State Park come to hike and visit the “King and Queen Seat” that sits on a 190 foot cliff providing dramatic views of the surrounding countryside.
The challenge in fishing Deer Creek inside the Park is to find a wide spot in the road where you can safely park. In the initial run up to the intersection of Rocks Chrome Hill Road, there is one turnoff on the left that provides access to the rapids area. If you are willing to walk, there is another parking area (39.631289,-76.41546) on Rocks Chrome Hill Road approximately 1,200 feet west of its intersection with MD 24. Most anglers park at the Rapids Area parking (39.637623,-76.412522) and fish up or downstream from there. The most scenic and compelling trout water is between the southern boundary and this parking lot. In fact, you may believe you are in Garrett County on the North Branch of the Potomac based on the scenery. There are tall, dramatic boulders along with whitewater and plunge pools that make this a fascinating and productive place to fish. Above the parking lot, the creek changes character becoming flat and comparatively uninteresting.
Continuing north, the creek takes a left to detour around the Wilson’s Picnic Area. There is a day use fee to park. To avoid the fee, drive across the bridge to the very small turnout on the left (39.644361,-76.412327) and follow the trail along the creek. The better choice is to turn left on St. Clair Bridge road since the creek eventually reconnects and runs parallel to the roadway. “No parking” signs predominate until the first small turnoff where the road begins to run west around the corner (39.63833, -76.41677). There is a deep channel adjacent to the parking area bounded on the upstream side by several large boulders that provide a welcome break to the general monotony of the creek. The creek continues to be 40 to 50 feet wide with a sandy bottom until reaching the next turnout at 39.63780, -76.42031. At the corner, where the creek turns sharply north, there is another small turnout at 39.637019,-76.424252 that offers the last free parking prior to reaching the Hills Grove Picnic Area where a day use fee applies. The bend is a prime fishing location featuring a very deep hole with additional rocks to provide holding structure. Once beyond the corner, the road veers away from the river to run up a steep hill to eventually rejoin the river at the edge of the public property.
Luckily, the “posted” signs at the intersection with Holy Cross Road at the bridge clearly indicate that fishing remains legal even though private property surrounds the creek at this point. That may change without notice at any time in the future. However, according to the DNR website, trout are only stocked in the Park. Therefore, trout fishing would be sketchy between this point and the next public property upstream, Eden Mill.
Eden Mill Nature Center
The focal point of the Eden Mill Nature Center is a gristmill that dates from the 18th century. The Park includes a comprehensive nature center that highlights Native American history along with information about local wildlife. This site is popular with canoeists and kayakers who make the 4.6 mile run to the take-out in Rocks State Park.
From a fishing perspective, the water is not compelling. This section contains flat water with a few rocks, fallen trees and gravel riffles. According to the DNR, do not attempt to canoe or kayak unless the Deer Creek gage reads at least 2.5 feet or you could find yourself in for a long, wet hike pulling your canoe. When you visit the Center to fish, do not park in front of the building since that lot is for nature center and gristmill museum visitors only. Park in the lower lot next to the pavilion.
Hidden Valley Natural Area
Above Eden Mill, the creek runs exclusively through private property. The next public access point is at the small parking area at the intersection of Carea and Telegraph roads (39.680611,-76.492168) in the Hidden Valley Natural Area. The property upstream from the bridge for approximately the next 5,000 feet is public. A well-defined trail runs up the northern bank. The stream is closer to the headwater and has become skinnier and tighter with the bottom consisting of small rocks and sand. The creek is not accessible from the southern side as a result of the steep mountainside that plunges directly to the water’s edge. Even though this is a public park, there are no facilities beyond parking – no picnic tables or restrooms.
West: From I-83, take exit 36 onto MD 436 toward Maryland Line/Bel Air and merge onto MD 439 E/Old York Road. Turn left onto MD 23 N/Norrisville Road. Turn right on Hartford Creamery Road to begin driving east at the upper end of Deer Creek. The creek is on the left.
South: From I-95, take exit 74 for MD 152 toward Joppatowne/Fallston and turn left onto MD 152 N/Mountain Road. Turn right onto US 1 N/Bel Air Road. Exit onto MD 24 N/Rock Spring Road. This is the lower end of Deer Creek. The public area starts approximately 600 feet from where the creek abuts the road.
Rocks State Park:
- Rocks Chrome Hill Road (39.631289,-76.41546)
- Rapids Parking (39.637623,-76.412522)
- Small turnout north of the bridge (39.644361,-76.412327)
- Wilson’s Picnic Area (39.642779,-76.413562)
- Various turnoffs on St Clair Bridge Road (39.63833, -76.41677, 39.63780, -76.42031, 39.637019,-76.424252)
- Hills Grove Picnic Area (39.638441,-76.424752)
Eden Mill Nature Center (39.675593,-76.449159)
Hidden Valley Natural Area – Carea and Telegraph roads (39.680611,-76.492168)
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Maryland DNR stocking plan.
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Start of rapids area in Rocks State Park
Bend below the Hills Grove parking area
Eden Mill upstream
Eden Mill downstream
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore