Gunners Lake: An Oasis in the City

Gunners Lake in Germantown is a relaxing place to walk and jog.

Upon leaving the car, my 2-year-old daughter gave an enthusiastic shout. 


On a recent cloudy morning, we ducked between rain showers to slip in a walk around the nearby neighborhood lake.  After several days cooped up indoors — with my toddler sitting in the dishwasher, dunking breakfast cereal in my soda, and coloring on the furniture — I needed to get her out of the house and run her around. 

Tucked in the middle of condos and townhomes, Gunners Lake is actually part of the Montgomery County stormwater system, built to withstand the peak runoff from a 100-year flood event. The lake was built about 30 years ago, when the 14 surrounding associations were built. The dam embankment lies directly in front of the Wisteria Drive roadway where I usually park. 

Just a few steps onto the trail, I noticed that the bustle of the road was noticeably diminished, replaced by bird song and frog calls.  We traveled counterclockwise from Wisteria along the flat path that hugs the lake.  I took the walk at an even pace.  My daughter darted back and forth in that chaotic manner common to toddlers and squirrels. 

We stopped to admire the lake from the vantage point of one of two fishing piers. 

“What dat?” my daughter asked.  A large black and white bird was swimming toward her.  She leaned between the slats of the recycled-plastic pier and stared at it.

“It’s a goose,” I said, watching the ducks and geese on the lake, listening to a myriad of song birds greeting the day.

She was not convinced.  “Is that duck?”

“No, it’s a goose,” I assured her.  “But ducks and geese are both types of birds.”

Birds are drawn to the vegetation lining the Gunners Lake loop — wild strawberries, honeysuckle, wildflowers.  Tall trees, such as maples and hickories, flank the lake’s northern half.  My daughter continued to dart about happily for the first half-mile, pointing out the large puddles on either side of the trail. I showed her two male cardinals in the underbrush, their red plumage bright, vocalizing a “chip, chip” call. 

At roughly the half-way point of our journey, I stopped to transfer my now-tired toddler to her stroller, which punctuated the relative quiet with shrieks of “No, no!  No stroller!”  To distract her, I pointed out the picnic benches that grace the northern portion of the trail.  I reminded her that her brothers and father took her there once for a picnic.    

Gunners Lake has recently undergone a facelift.  Ravi Parkhie is the property manager for the North Lake Village Federation, the group responsible for maintaining Gunners Lake.  He described the extensive work that the North Lake Village Federation has put toward the lake in the past three years: replacing the two fishing piers, repaving the asphalt path, repainting the distance markers, and adding 30 synthetic trash cans, 12 synthetic benches, and two dog stations.

“I vowed when I took it over that we would fix it up,” Parkhie told me.  “Gunners Lake is a great resource to the residents of Germantown.”

As my daughter and I strolled our way back around the lake, I realized that I was seeing the same faces coming back toward us.  At 1.16 miles, the Gunners Lake loop provides a convenient unit of measurement for walkers and joggers. 

“It’s nice.  It’s like the perfect distance,” said Germantown resident Colleen Welch, jogging with her white boxer Emmit. “Depending upon how ambitious we feel, we’ll do one lap or two laps.”

Karen Walker lives nearby and visits Gunners Lake every day to walk or run on the loop trail. 

“For me, it’s my quiet time and my exercise,” Walker said. “I love the wildlife here.  I love being able to see the blue herons, ducks and geese, osprey, different types of birds, beavers, lots of turtles. It’s just really relaxing.” 

Except when I’m transferring my daughter back into her stroller.

William Harrison Tewelow II July 09, 2011 at 07:30 PM
COMPLAINT!!!!! What can we do about the litter and the litterers? Everyday I walk around the lake it seems the trash gets worse and it is bottles and junk floating in the lake. I believe most of it is from those who are fishing. The fisherman do nothing good for the lake. Can it be outlawed at the lake? My wife had to untangle a baby goose whose leg had been caught up in a fishing line. A huge turtle was killed because he had his stomach pulled out after swallowing a fish hook. I've picked up beer bottles, bait containers, fishing bobbers and packaging from newly unwrapped fishing lures and a few fishing poles., and all types of other trash. Their lack of respect and disregard for this beautiful lake disgusts me and angers me greatly. What can be done?
Julie Bloss Kelsey July 10, 2011 at 05:52 PM
William, I would try contacting Ravi Parkhie at The Management Group (301-948-6666). He's the property manager for the North Lake Village Federation, which is the group responsible for maintaining Gunners Lake (apart from dredging).
William Harrison Tewelow II July 11, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Thank you Julie for the contact. I will call them. Nice article about the Lake. It is a favorite place for lots of people; unfortunately, it seems that keeping it nice is a constant battle.
Timmy Le March 13, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Great article! I have a question. Can people swim in the lake? Are there leeches or other unpleasant things?
Laura October 01, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I love this path for jogging, but the lack of etiquette by the majority of the people who use it makes it much less enoyable. People walking together three across who wont move over and allow room for anyone to pass them, forcing you off the trail, people who will leave their bikes and SUV sized strollers laying in the middle of the path while they take a break, people who refuse to stay to the right and either walk on the left or dead down the center like its their own personal trail, causing you to have to zig zag around people, parents allowing their toddlers to dart out in front of people and nearly cause serious accidents, etc. Drives me crazy and ruins the experience when I'm trying to enjoy a relaxing run. There needs to be a sign posted to remind people of basic trail etiquette that really should be common sense but unfortunately isn't, and it would be helpful to paint a center line on the pavement like they have on the Mt. Vernon trail. I agree about the trash too.


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