- Size: The dam spans the
southern end of the reservoir. Brighton Dam Road runs along the
top of the dam.
- Habitat: Standing on Brighton
Dam facing north, one is looking at a cove of Triadelphia
Reservoir. The wooded edges on the east are in Howard County;
those on the west are in Montgomery County. There may be
unvegetated spits of land visible depending on the height of the
water. A small section of the main reservoir can be seen in the
distance. Both orange and white buoys serve as convenient
- Best Months: Late fall to
early spring is usually the most productive. Although the slowest
time is late May through the first half of July, almost any
period can be worthwhile.
- Coverage Time: From a few
minutes to several hours.
- Trails/Paths: Parking is in a
gated lot on the Montgomery (southwest) side of the dam. A
sidewalk runs along the north side of the dam adjacent to
Brighton Dam Road. There is no sidewalk on the south side facing
the Patuxent River. A picnic area below the dam is reached
through a gate from the parking lot. It is open in warm weather
during daylight hours.
- Notable Birds: Cackling Goose,
Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter,
White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Common
Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Red-necked
Grebe, Western Grebe, Glossy Ibis, Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk,
Golden Eagle, Sandhill Crane, American Golden-Plover, Iceland
Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Glaucous Gull, Common Tern,
Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Common Raven, Cliff Swallow (colony
- Amenities: Portable toilets in
the paved parking lot. Free maps available in the information
office in the cabin adjacent to the parking lot.
- Handicapped Access:
Challenging. Crossing Brighton Dam Road is not always
easy. The water is only visible over the almost four foot cement
barrier adjacent to the sidewalk. The sidewalk is usually not
shoveled after snowstorms.
- Operation and Hours:
Triadelphia Reservoir is owned and managed by the
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) and security is
their number one concern. The reservoir is closed to public
access from November 15 to April 1. During the winter, the view
from Brighton Dam is the only consistent location from which to
view any of the water (or ice). Hours are no longer posted on the
gates, but, in winter, they may be open as early as 7:00 a.m.
This is important because birds may be gone by 8:00 a.m. Gates
nominally close at 4:00 p.m. but 3:45 p.m. is more accurate.
Hours are longer in warmer weather. Gates are closed on
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Parking in front of
the gates during off hours is at your own risk—you may be
told to leave. Parking on the road near the dam is dangerous as
the traffic is usually heavy and hills on either side invite high
- Special Attractions: Besides
the water, which is the main attraction, there is an azalea
garden on the west side open for a few weeks each spring. It
opens after waterfowl migration so the access doesn't gain much
for birders trying to view the blind spot favored by ducks and
mergansers, but the flowers draw many visitors.
Compiler: Nancy Magnusson and Joanne