Centennial Lake Loop & Sapwood Cellars

Ellicott City, MD

Some days you don’t have the energy for a huge rock your world hike. Some days you just have to take the short and easy route and make sure to stop and smell the flowers. That’s exactly what the Centennial Lake Loop in Columbia was for us. We had been feeling pretty spread thin but still wanted to get outdoors. This is a popular paved path along a man-made lake in Columbia that was quite peaceful and had lots of different trees. We loved taking our time and reading all of the tree labels and trying to spot as much wildlife as possible. The slow down was rejuvenating, made even better by a stop at Sapwood Cellars, one of our favs!

THE HIKE: Centennial Lake Loop


Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 128 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time:  1 hour
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed pets, bikes
Parking: Large parking lots throughout park, can get busy at times
H&H: 3/5

Howard County in Maryland is well known for having trail systems connecting neighborhoods. Today’s trail loop is one of them, which travels around Centennial Lake. Despite its name, this isn’t really a lake. It’s a dam that’s been created by damming a portion of a branch off the Little Patuxent River. In addition to the waterway, the Howard County Parks and Rec also maintains a large park surrounding Centennial Lake with every outdoor activity you can think of! There are pavilions, boat launches, fishing piers, playgrounds, sports facilities and more. Needless to say, this park is very popular! We went on a surprisingly warm January afternoon and the park was full of families getting their vitamin D. 

The loop around Centennial Lake is a paved path that makes it perfect for an easy walk or for pushing a stroller or wheelchair. It’s definitely a popular place which means the trails can get crowded. This took a while for me to get used to since I’m usually pretty isolated out in the woods. But it was also heartwarming to see so many people enjoying the great outdoors in the depths of winter. We definitely just took it easy and enjoyed all the birds and wildlife. I also really liked that throughout the trail there were labels on the trees with descriptions so that we could learn a bit more about tree varieties. It’s my New Year’s resolution to be able to identify more trees when I’m out hiking!

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite hike since the paved path got a little boring and sharing the trail with so many other people soon became annoying. But I’m still glad that we found a good trail for a day that we were too tired to do a major hike. This would be a great way for people to start getting into hiking or just trying to add some more outdoor time into their life.

THE BEER: Sapwood Cellars

Address: 8980 MD-108 Suite MNO, Columbia, MD 21045
Distance from Trail Head:  3 miles, 6 mins 
Website: https://sapwoodcellars.com/
Food?: BYOF (Food trucks on select days)
H&H Rating: 5/5

Sapwood Cellars has been making high quality brews since they opened in 2018. Founded by homebrewing friends Scott Janish and Michael Tomsmiere, Sapwood takes a scientific approach to beer-making. Instead of making a wide range of mediocre beer, they have honed their skills to specifically make fresh, hop-forward ales and more funkier barrel-aged sours. 

Like many breweries in Maryland, you’ll find Sapwood tucked into the back corner of an industrial park. They don’t have a kitchen onsite, but you’ll often find a food truck parked out front. If not, you’re free to bring in your own food! The taproom is large but finds a perfect balance of cozy yet spacious. Having a green thumb myself, I particularly love that there are plants everywhere throughout the space. Also around the space is local art for sale, often pieces by the artist who designs the can labels. 

Sapwood’s name harkens back to the two focal points of their production. Sap for the fresh hoppy IPAs and wood for the barrel-aged brews. Sapwood is one of those few breweries where everything is consistently good. Honestly, more than just good! There’s always something that I love on tap. It definitely helps that I’m particular to those fresh IPA flavors! This past visit, the standout for me was the Combo Wombo. I seriously don’t think I’ll ever get enough of Hazy IPAs. I liked it better than the Grapefruit Rings which I was really hoping for more Grapefruit flavor to come out. J was a big fan of The Dragon, the rye double IPA which I actually didn’t mind! The rye flavor was well-balanced and didn’t overpower the IPA flavor. 

I cannot recommend Sapwood Cellars enough. It is definitely in my top five favorite Maryland breweries and it definitely will not disappoint!

Our Beer:

  • The Dragon – Rye Double IPA – 8.2%
  • Grapefruit Rings – NEIPA – 5.9%
  • Unbound – Wheat Beer – 5.1% 
  • Combo Wombo – Hazy DIPA- 6.6%

SUM UP: Centennial Lake is a 3 mile paved loop around a manmade waterway in Ellicott City. It is a popular park that can get busy but has plenty of free parking. It is popular with walkers, cyclists and families. It features wildlife and lots of nature learning opportunities. Close by is Sapwood Cellars, a brewery that specializes in hoppy IPAs and barrel-aged brews. They are consistently making excellent beer and are one of our favorite places in Maryland!