23 Best Lakes in Connecticut
Though the state of Connecticut is best known for its Atlantic Ocean coastline when it comes to shoreline recreation, more than 3,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs throughout the region offer opportunities for more secluded waterfront getaways. State parks and forests anchored by public access lakes abound, offering boat, canoe, and kayak rentals and opportunities for day-use picnicking and overnight camping. A number of privately-managed lakes also feature quaint resort communities, which may be accessed by visitors through short- or long-term vacation rentals. Whether you’re looking for superb angling opportunities, public swimming beaches, or picturesque spots for winter activities such as skating and ice fishing, Connecticut’s lakes offer the perfect natural getaway for every outdoor adventurer’s tastes. Photo: Jennifer/Fotolia
Highland Lake is located within Litchfield County’s Berkshire Mountains near the city of Winsted and was created in 1860 by the damming of the Mad River. Today, the 444-acre lake is known as a popular resort area and offers swimming, boating, fishing, and water skiing opportunities for visitors. The lake’s Second Bay area is a popular fishing spot for largemouth and smallmouth bass, Atlantic salmon, kokanee trout, and yellow perch, while its First Bay serves as a launch spot for watercraft. Portions of its Third Bay are located within nearby Burr Pond State Park, which offers private campground facilities. Other nearby attractions include Platt Hill State Park, Paugnut and Sunny Brook State Forests, and the West Branch of the Farmington River, which has been designated as a National Parks Service Wild and Scenic River.
Contact: 338 Main Street, Winsted, CT 06098
Quaddick Lake is a natural freshwater reservoir within Mystic County that was dammed in 1867, deepening the existing Kings Pond and connecting it to nearby Stump Pond. The new lake’s name was derived from a Nipmuc indigenous word for “bend in the river,” which was also used in the naming of several other regional sites. Today, the 407-acre lake is a popular spot for seasonal and year-round resort homes and offers ideal water conditions for canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, and paddle boating. Quaddick State Park, located along the lake’s Middle Lake shoreline, offers a concession stand and recreational activities such as a swimming beach, ball fields, picnic areas, and the 1.5-mile Red Trail Loop.
Contact: 818 Quaddick Town Farm Rd, Thompson, CT 06277
Bolton Lakes is comprised of three freshwater lakes within Tolland County, known as Upper, Middle, and Lower Bolton Lake. Together, the lakes span a surface area of 246 acres, 175 of which is contained within Lower Bolton Lake, the area’s largest lake. Popular activities within the lake region include swimming, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and year-round fishing for catfish, perch, sunfish, and largemouth bass, including opportunities for ice fishing during the winter months. A six-mile mountain biking and hiking trail is provided at the nearby Hop River State Park Trail, and softball and baseball fields are offered at the Bolton Lake Sailing Club.
Contact: 300 Valley Falls Rd, Vernon, CT 06066
Amston Lake is a natural freshwater lake located near Connecticut’s River Valley and Mystic Country tourist regions. The 186-acre lake is privately owned as part of the Amston Lake District, which was formed by local property owners following jurisdiction disputes between the nearby cities of Lebanon and Hebron. Use of the lake is restricted to nearby property owners, but a number of seasonal vacation rentals are available for visitors wishing to access the region’s two sand beaches and seven boating access points along its three-mile shoreline. Angler fishing opportunities are available for largemouth, rock, and calico bass, bluegill, and yellow and white perch. Nearby activities include Air-Line Trail State Park, which offers hiking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding opportunities.
Contact: 271 Leonard Bridge Rd, Lebanon, CT 06249
Anderson Pond is also referred to as Blue Lake and is located within southeastern Connecticut near the city of North Stonington. The 57-acre natural freshwater lake is located within a kettle formation formed by glaciers during the last Ice Age and features wetland areas populated by beavers, mink, and a variety of waterfowl. Though swimming is not permitted at the lake, boating, canoeing, and kayaking access are offered at several sites along the lake’s two-mile shoreline, offering opportunities for largemouth and calico bass, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, and yellow perch fishing. Nearby attractions include the Pachaug State Forest and Mystic Seaport, which offers a variety of maritime-related attractions.
Contact: I-95, North Stonington, CT 06359
Bantam Lake is located at an elevation of almost 900 feet and spans a surface area of 947 acres, making it the largest natural body of water in the state. It is fed by the Bantam River and features 10 miles of heavily forested shoreline maintained by the nationally-known White Memorial Foundation. More than 20 bass tournaments are held at the lake annually, which also offers opportunities for northern pike, black crappie, chain pickerel, and bluegill fishing. Other popular visitor activities include water skiing, winter ice boating, canoeing, and kayaking, along with hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails in Foundation-owned land nearby.
Contact: 123 N Shore Rd, Bantam, CT 06750
»Beach Pond Lake
Beach Pond Lake is a man-made reservoir that was completed in 1885 and spans a surface area of 459 acres near the Rhode Island state line and the cities of Exeter and Voluntown. The lake is part of a popular regional canoe trail that spans the nearby Pachaug and Quinebaug Rivers. Boat ramps at the lake’s northern Connecticut end offer access for fishing, boating, water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking. Largemouth, smallmouth, and calico bass are found in the lake’s higher levels, while rainbow and brown trout and walleye are prevalent within deeper level areas. Walk-in and backpack camping is available near the lake’s shoreline, and more than 24,000 acres of nearby forest are available for visitor hiking and exploration.
Contact: 108 Forge Hill Rd, Voluntown, CT 06384
Candlewood Lake is the largest man-made reservoir in the state of Connecticut, spanning a surface area of 5,420 acres. The lake was formed after the 1928 construction of the Rocky River Dam, which impounded the nearby Housatonic River. Today, the reservoir serves as a major hydroelectric power source for the state and offers 86 miles of shoreline for visitor recreation, including 10 fully-stocked marinas with accessible boat launch ramps. Canoe, kayak, and boat rentals are available, along with fishing and water sport equipment. The lake is considered to be the state’s best fishing area and is managed as a trophy trout area that is home to more than 100 annual fishing tournaments. Other people nearby attractions include the nearby Squantz Pond State Park, which offers hiking, picnicking, and overnight camping opportunities.
Contact: 36 Hayestown Rd., Danbury, CT 06810
Photo: makasana photo/Fotolia
»Colebrook River Lake
Colebrook River Lake was created in 1969 after the completion of a flood control dam by the United States Army Corps of Engineers along the west branch of the Farmington River. It is located in Colebrook and is accessible via a seven-mile loop of Route 8, which provides access for foliage viewing excursions during the autumn months. The lake is a popular spot for brown and rainbow trout fishing and also offers opportunities to catch large and smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, and pan fish. Other popular activities at the lake include boating, canoeing, kayaking, geocaching, birding, and wildlife watching.
Contact: P.O. Box 58, Riverton, CT 06065-0058
Coventry Lake is located within Mystic Country and is also known by its indigenous name Wangumbaug Lake, which translates as “crooked pond.” It was originally settled in the early 18th century and served as a popular site for farmsteads, later becoming a popular New England vacation destination at the turn of the 20th century. Today, the natural freshwater lake is located within the city of Coventry and spans a surface area of 373 acres, offering seven miles of visitor shoreline. Swimming, sailing, water skiing, and windsurfing are popular on the lake, along with bass, walleye, trout, and carp fishing. Nearby in Coventry, Patriots Park hosts the annual Coventry Fest and is home to a number of museums and historic sites.
Contact: 3104, 124 Lake St, Coventry, CT 06238
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Crystal Lake is located within Connecticut’s River Valley between the cities of Stafford and Ellington, near the Shenipsit State Forest. The lake was historically referred to as Wabbaquasset Lake by the indigenous Nipmuc tribe, which translates as “the mat-producing place.” The 200-acre freshwater lake is surrounded by maple, pine, oak, hickory, and chestnut forests and was a popular resort area at the turn of the 20th century, featuring the historic Sandy Beach Ballroom and roller skating rink. Today, the lake offers swimming, boating, and fishing opportunities along with a number of vacation rentals at nearby residences. Annual special events within the nearby cities include Ellington’s Annual Winterfest and Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Contact: Sandy Beach Rd. (Rte. 140), Ellington, CT 06029
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Hitchcock Lake is a man-made lake that was dug by hand in 1890 and is comprised of two separate lake areas connected by a bridge. Today, the lake spans 110 acres within the Litchfield Hills region and is overseen by the Wolcott Land Conservation Trust the Hitchcock Lake Improvement Association. The lake’s access is restricted to nearby property owners, but a limited number of short- and long-term vacation home rentals are available throughout the area for visitor access. Launch access is provided for boats, canoes, kayaks, and water skiiers, and a catch-and-release fishing area stocks largemouth bass and catfish. A beach on the lake’s southern end also provides public swimming access.
Contact: 10 Kenea Ave, Wolcott, CT 06716
Photo: Klanarong Chitmung/Fotolia
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Lake Garda was the vision of Italian immigrant Harry Battistoni, who arrived in New Britain following World War I and dammed the nearby Rose Brook to create a lake modeled after his childhood neighborhood lake. The lake was completed in 1925, and in 1943, the Lake Garda Improvement Association was formed to oversee the region’s development into a private summer community. Lakefront real estate and vacation rentals are available in the area surrounding the 43-acre lake, allowing access to outdoor activities such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Private beaches surrounding the lake include Battistoni Beach, named for the lake’s creator. Popular winter activities include hockey, skating, and ice fishing.
Contact: 111 N Main St, Bristol, CT 06010
Photo: Tomasz Zajda/Fotolia
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Lake Hayward is a natural freshwater lake within the state’s central region, located near the city of East Haddam. The lake was originally referred to as Long Pond by local indigenous tribes and was known as Shaw’s throughout its early colonial history, a reference to local gristmiller Thomas Shaw. In the early 20th century, it was named in honor of inventor Nathaniel Hayward, who worked with the Goodyear Rubber corporation to vulcanize rubber. Since then, the lake has been known as a popular seasonal recreational site, offering four miles of shoreline surrounding its 190-acre surface area. A state-owned launch site is provided for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Swimming, hiking, and brown and rainbow trout fishing are popular summer activities, while skating and ice fishing are prevalent during the winter months.
Contact: 139 Witch Meadow Rd, Salem, CT 06420
Photo: Michele Ursi/Fotolia
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Lake Lillinonah is the result of the creation of the Shepaug Dam, which was constructed in 1955 for the purposes of generating hydroelectric power. Today, the 1,547-acre lake, which is located in the state’s southwest region near the city of New Milford, offers 45 miles of visitor access shoreline for year-round outdoor activities. It is part of the Housatonic River Trail, which offers canoeing and kayaking trails along the region’s connected waterways. Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing is popular, with more than 50 bass fishing competitions held annually. Other popular activities include hiking, bird and wildlife watching, picnicking, and geocaching.
Contact: 199 Main St S, Bridgewater, CT 06752
Photo: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Fotolia
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Lake Terramuggus is owned by the city of Marlborough and offers rustic outdoor experiences for visitors looking for a getaway from more popular developed lake sites in the region. The 83-acre lake is staffed by local lifeguards during the summer months and offers swimming lessons for area children. All boats on the lake are restricted to under 3.3 horsepower, maintaining a low noise level and encouraging canoeing, paddle boating, and kayaking. Award-winning calico bass and channel catfish have been caught on the lake, which is also a popular spot for trout fishing. Though lake access is restricted to Marlborough residents, a number of short- and long-term vacation rentals are available.
Contact: 26 North Main Street, P.O. Box 29 - Marlborough, CT 06447
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Lake Waramaug has been noted in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, offering a wide variety of year-round outdoor activities for visitors. The 656-acre lake spans four miles along the Housatonic River Drainage Basin and is the state’s second-largest natural freshwater lake, located near the towns of Warren and Washington. Though portions of the lake are closed as private waterfront for town residents, visitor access is provided at Lake Waramaug State Park, which offers swimming, trout and bass fishing, and a public boat launch site. Canoe and kayak rentals are available, along with public beach and picnic areas. A number of secluded campsites overlooking the lake within forest areas are also available.
Contact: 30 Lake Waramaug Rd, New Preston, CT 06777
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Lake Wononscopomuc is located 90 miles from New York City and is a popular weekender and resort home spot. As one of six lakes within the city of Salisbury, the 353-acre lake is the state’s deepest lake and offers three miles of visitor access shoreline for summer activities such as swimming, sailing, and bass, perch, pickerel, and sunfish angling. A public swimming beach is available at the Town Grove on the lake’s northeastern end, which also offers a picnic area, a children’s playground, sporting courts, a boat launch site, and a meeting hall. Popular winter activities include skating and cross-country skiing.
Contact: 36 Ethan Allen St, Lakeville, CT 06039
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Lake Zoar was created with the damming of Stevenson Dam in 1919 and was the state’s largest lake at the time of its completion. Today, the 909-acre reservoir is overseen by FirstLight Power Resources and offers a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including four boat launch ramps for boat, canoe, kayak, and paddler access to the Housatonic Valley River Trail. Ample populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, chain pickerel, and large bullhead catfish are available for anglers. The 6.5-mile Zoar Trail is overseen by Paugussett State Forest and follows the lake’s shoreline, offering opportunities for hiking and wildlife watching. Auto touring is also available nearby via the Valley Heritage Driving Tour.
Contact: 300 Scout Road, Southbury, CT 06488
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Pachaug Pond is a man-made reservoir overseen by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and spans 841 acres within the city of Griswold, making it the largest public body of water east of the Connecticut River. Popular summer activities include swimming, boating, hiking, and northern pike and largemouth bass fishing. During the winter, the pond is a favorite spot for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. It is the annual site of the Great Pachaug Canoe and Kayak Race, which spans a racing length of up to 11 miles and extends into nearby Hopeville Pond. Seasonal campsites are available at Hopeville Pond State Park between April and September.
Contact: 262 Shetucket Turnpike, Griswold, CT 06351
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Saugatuck Reservoir was created by the 1941 damming of the Saugatuck River by the Bridgeport Water Company, known today as Aquarion Water Company. Today, the 827-acre reservoir is a lesser-known site for outdoor recreation, offering undeveloped natural conditions for hikers and shore fishing. Boating and camping are not permitted at the reservoir, but 13 miles of shoreline offer ample opportunity for hiking and wildlife watching. Rainbow and brown trout are stocked annually, and populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, and walleye are prevalent. An accessible fishing dock is provided, located within the nearby city of Weston.
Contact: 33 Pent Rd, Weston, CT 06883
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»West Hill Lake
West Hill Lake is located in the Litchfield Hills region and is also referred to as West Hill Pond. The 261-acre lake is best known as the site of a 1989 underwater excavation of an indigenous chestnut log canoe, which is on display at the nearby Mashantucket Pequot Museum. It is known as a prime spot for trout and kokanee salmon fishing and is considered to be one of western Connecticut’s best ice fishing lakes. A public boat launch is offered at Brodie Park, which is located on the lake’s southwestern shore and also offers a fishing pier, swimming beach, tennis and basketball courts, and a 150-acre hiking and horseback riding trail site.
Contact: Perkins Rd, Barkhamsted, CT 06063
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Winchester Lake is located within Litchfield County and was created in 1928 by the damming of the East Branch Naugatuck River. It is known for its unique water terrain, which features submerged trees and stumps due to engineers allowing nearby forests to flood during its construction. The 229-acre lake is known as a prime spot for largemouth bass and northern pike fishing. Due to the water terrain, an eight mile per hour speed limit is enforced for motorboats, though canoeing and kayaking are most popular. Campgrounds are offered at nearby Burr Pond State Park and the American Legion State Forest, and vacation rentals are available in the nearby city of Winsted.
Contact: W Rd, Winsted, CT 06098
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23 Best Lakes in Connecticut
- Highland Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Amphawan - Fotolia.com
- Quaddick Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Venera - Fotolia.com
- Bolton Lakes, Photo: Courtesy of paisan191 - Fotolia.com
- Amston Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Marek - Fotolia.com
- Anderson Pond, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- Bantam Lake, Photo: Courtesy of renamarie - Fotolia.com
- Beach Pond Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Lenspiration - Fotolia.com
- Candlewood Lake, Photo: Courtesy of makasana photo - Fotolia.com
- Colebrook River Lake, Photo: Courtesy of fotonaturali - Fotolia.com
- Coventry Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Kristina - Fotolia.com
- Crystal Lake, Photo: Courtesy of NADEZHDA - Fotolia.com
- Hitchcock Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Klanarong Chitmung - Fotolia.com
- Lake Garda, Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia.com
- Lake Hayward, Photo: Courtesy of Michele Ursi - Fotolia.com
- Lake Lillinonah, Photo: Courtesy of LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - Fotolia.com
- Lake Terramuggus, Photo: Courtesy of vitaliy_melnik - Fotolia.com
- Lake Waramaug, Photo: Courtesy of hjschneider - Fotolia.com
- Lake Wononscopomuc, Photo: Courtesy of sentio_art - Fotolia.com
- Lake Zoar, Photo: Courtesy of gdvcom - Fotolia.com
- Pachaug Pond, Photo: Courtesy of lom742 - Fotolia.com
- Saugatuck Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of ericurquhart - Fotolia.com
- West Hill Lake, Photo: Courtesy of vfhnb12 - Fotolia.com
- Winchester Lake, Photo: Courtesy of pavelkant - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer - Fotolia.com
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