Lake Elkhorn Loop & Black Flag Brewing Company

Columbia, MD

If you’ve ever been to Columbia, you know they’ve got a great brewery scene! When we lived in Laurel, we hung out there all the time. Another great thing about Columbia is the focus on green spaces! All the neighborhoods are connected by paved trails. One of our favorite trails in the area is this loop around Lake Elkhorn. It’s pretty short so it’s great for families or to go for a run. Usually when we go, we add on a section of the Patuxent Branch Trail to get some extra distance. This is a great nature walk and perfect for seeing some birds. Conveniently, Black Flag Brewing Company is just minutes away from the trailhead. This trail is perfect for winding down after some holiday shopping at the Mall. Don’t let the winter chill keep you inside!

THE HIKE: Lake Elkhorn Loop

Length: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 40 ft
Difficulty: Easy (paved path)
Time: 45 mins
Trail use: Hiking, Biking, leashed pets
Parking: Two parking lots around lake
H&H: 3/5

The Lake Elkhorn trail is a popular 1.9 mile paved loop in Columbia. It’s definitely not as woodsy as some of our other hikes, but you still can see some wildlife and get away from the hustle and bustle. This trail is also nice because it easily connects to the Patuxent Branch trail so you can make your nature walk fairly long. The Patuxent Branch Trail actually goes all the way to Savage Mill! The whole loop is about 10 miles so it’s not for the faint of heart. 

Lake Elkhorn is man made and was constructed in 1974. Today it is maintained by the Columbia Association, a nonprofit that provides community services for residents in the area. They maintain over 3,600 acres of open space and 95 miles of walking trails! 

This trail is very popular with walkers of all ages and abilities. The paved path makes it a great place to come with small kids or elderly people. It’s also a really good place to go jogging, just be prepared to share the trail! It’s a very popular spot. You’ll also see many different kinds of waterfowl and other aquatic creatures. This past trip we saw ducks, geese, cormorants, and a heron. In the summer, you’ll see lots of frogs, turtles, and fish. A surprising amount of wildlife for a populous suburb! 

I really like this trail because it’s easy to add on to a day of running errands around Columbia or if you only have a little bit of time to get some fresh air. And if you have more time, I highly suggest adding on a section of the Patuxent Branch trail. It’s very peaceful and is a great stretch of the legs! 

THE BEER: Black Flag Brewing Company

Address: 9315 Snowden River Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21046
Distance from Trail Head: 1.1 miles, 3 mins
Food?: BYOF
H&H Rating: 5/5

Black Flag is another of the first breweries that we went to after moving to Maryland. They’re also located in Columbia, in a strip mall right off Snowden River Parkway. They opened in 2015 as Columbia’s first production brewery and taproom in Columbia. They’ve really grown in the last few years, now offering 16 taps of freshly made craft beer. True to their name, Black Flag doesn’t like to live by the norms. They just made beer that smells and tastes amazing, who cares what the numbers are! 

Black Flag makes some really awesome dark beers. They have really become known for their flavorful pastry stouts. Now I’m not usually one for sweet beers, but I’ve definitely been digging some of these dessert stouts. This visit we had several tasters since it had been a while since we visited. I’m always a fan of New England IPAs, so I really enjoyed the juicy Sun Run. But a close runner up of the day was the Airing of Grievances. It was a delightful hint at the upcoming winter holidays with a taste of molasses and gingerbread aromas. It’s Christmastime people!!

Also, please enjoy the complete nerdiness of Black Flag if you make it out there. I absolutely love their giant mural of Star Wars characters drinking Black Flag beer.

Our Beer:

  • Rockets to the Moon – NEIPA – 7%
  • Cobbler: Raspberry Pomegranate Cherry – Sour – 6%
  • Airing of Grievances – Imperial Gingerbread Stout – 9%
  • Betwixt – Pastry Stout – 10%
  • Sun Run – NEIPA – 6.5%
  • Divining Rod – IPA – 7.2%

SUM UP: Lake Elkhorn is an easy, paved 1.9 mile loop in Columbia with the potential to add on additional miles along the Patuxent Branch Trail. There are two parking lots along the loop but they can fill up quickly since this is a popular spot. This trail is great for viewing waterfowl and is perfect for all ages and abilities. Afterward, check out Black Flag Brewing Company, Columbia’s first brewery and taproom. They’re known for unique brews and pushing the limits on big flavors. Make sure to try one of their amazing pastry stouts!

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