18 Best Lakes in Connecticut for Kayaking and Campaigns

Connecticut was called after the Connecticut River, which was formed from several spellings of the Algonquian term for “long tidal river.”

The Connecticut River Valley is formed by the river cutting through the heart of it. It is the third smallest state in the United States, but it boasts a broad range of landscapes, from rolling mountains to sea-level beaches.

Although Connecticut is not geographically, the Long Island Sound runs along its entire southern border. Aside from rivers, valleys, and mountains, the state also features many lakes to enjoy.

Lakes in Connecticut

Whether you want to water ski, paddleboard, canoe, fish, swim, sunbathe, walk, or perfect your backflip, our list of the Top Lakes in Connecticut will help you locate the perfect spot.

Candlewood Lake

Candlewood Lake

Candlewood Lake, Connecticut’s largest and most popular lake, is first on our list. This lake, located in western Connecticut, is 8.5 square miles (5,420 acres) and has 12 islands. Candlewood Lake does not allow camping; however, the long list of authorized activities more than compensates for this shortcoming.

On the lake, fishing, boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, and various other water sports are popular, while those who prefer to keep dry can go hiking, golf, or geocache. Down the Hatch, Candlewood Lake’s waterfront restaurant has stunning views from its outdoor seats.

One of the lake’s most well-known sites, Chicken Rock, is within swimming distance of Green Island and allows people to leap into or swing over the water from a height of 25 feet.

Scuba diving is another popular sport in Candlewood Lake, thanks to the medieval settlement of Jerusalem that lies beneath the water.

According to their website, crash planes, farm equipment, and massive structures can be observed when diving in Candlewood Lake.

Five towns surround Candlewood Lake: Danbury, New Milford, Brookfield, Sherman, and New Fairfield; thus, many things are to do near the lake.

Squantz Pond

Squantz Pond

Originally, Squantz Pond State Park is home to this recreational lake. The lake has a beach surrounded by a mountainous backdrop, giving it a beautiful area to spend the day.

Squantz Pond is in New Fairfield, near New York, in the state’s west end. It is open all year, though the summer months are the busiest, and it offers boating, fishing, and even scuba diving.

Because of its beautiful surroundings, Squantz Pond State Park is a photographer’s dream. It’s also a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts who want to trek on one of the many routes.

Mashapaug Lake

Mashapaug Lake

The Thames River Drainage Basin’s Mashapaug Lake is a fisherman’s paradise. This 287-acre natural lake is fully stocked with trout, bass, and sunfish during the busy season, making for superb fishing.

If you leave early or remain late, you’ll have a better chance of finding something; the lake is a popular spot for boating and waterskiing.

Mashapaug is a vacation hotspot for people from both Connecticut and Massachusetts because it is located in the state’s northeastern region, close to the Massachusetts border.

Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck State Forest, two big state parks, hug its immense area. We dare you not to jump in since the water is so pure, transparent, and inviting.

Bantam Lake

Bantam Lake

Bantam Lake is the state’s largest natural lake. The lake is also found in Connecticut’s western side, between the towns of Morris and Litchfield.

Because of the great number of bird species, the north end of the lake is a protected area. This makes it a refuge for bird enthusiasts from all over the world.

Along its shores, you’ll find the oldest water ski club in the United States, as well as various camping spots and boat launches. The Litchfield Hills Rowing Club and two public beaches are also located here.

Mansfield Hollow Lake

Mansfield Hollow Lake

The 500-acre Mansfield Hollow Lake is located in the center of Mansfield Hollow State Park. The flawless vista, created when the Army Corps of Engineers blocked the Natchaug River, may induce peace in even the most anxious of travelers.

On the lovely waters of Mansfield Hollow Lake, fishing and boating are permitted, but swimming is prohibited. The reason is that the lake is effectively a reservoir, with a portion of it used for public drinking water.

Instead of diving in, bring a picnic and go for a hike or ride your mountain bike through the park’s many trails. When it’s time to take a break, find a seat with the best view and dine alfresco.

Lake Waramaug

Lake Waramaug

The eponymous lake in Kent, Connecticut, is located within the 95-acre Lake Waramaug State Park. With a surface area of 656 acres, Lake Waramaug is the second-largest natural freshwater lake. Typical water activities such as fishing, swimming, and scuba diving are available to visitors.

Canoes and kayaks are also available for rent by the hour or by the day. Mountain biking, hiking, and field sports are popular near the lake if you keep out of the water.

Camping is also allowed in the state park, with more than 70 sites spread out throughout woodland and open areas.

The natural beauty of Lake Waramaug is well-known, especially during the fall months, when the multicolored leaves of the trees reflect on the motionless, quiet water.

Because motorized boats are prohibited, Lake Waramaug is the ideal spot to unwind and enjoy the soothing sights and sounds of nature. Lake Waramaug is simple to see why it was included in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.

Winchester Lake

Winchester Lake

Winchester Lake, in northwestern Connecticut, is a gorgeous, hidden treasure of a lake. And life on this peaceful lake is best experienced slowly.

Winchester Lake, which spans 246 acres near the same-named town, is a popular fishing spot for fishermen looking for a big catch.

Logging built an important dam in the area, but it also left a hazard in the form of tree stumps lying just beneath the water’s surface. Boaters must exercise caution when navigating, especially when approaching the shore. This could be one of the reasons for the lake’s eight-mile-per-hour speed limit.

Lake Zoar

Lake Zoar

The Housatonic River runs through this 368-hectare reservoir, which is surrounded by four municipalities. The Stevenson Dam was created in 1919.

There are four boat launches on Lake Zoar, one in each of the towns. The 10.5-kilometer Zoar Trail encircles the lake and provides breathtaking vistas.

Fishing is popular in the lake, stocked with bass, perch, catfish, carp, and trout. Jet skiing and water skiing are additional popular activities.

Gardner Lake

Gardner Lake

Gardner Lake is located within Gardner Lake State Park. The lake is 528 acres in size and is bordered by Salem, Montville, and Bozrah in Connecticut’s southeast. The park, on the other hand, is only about ten acres in size.

Minnie Island State Park is located within the midnight blue expanse of the lake. This park is famous for being Connecticut’s smallest state park and the sole island in Gardner Lake, with only 0.88 acres.

The lake is well supplied with walleye, bullhead, and catfish, making it a popular fishing destination run by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Lake Hayward

Lake Hayward

This natural spring-fed lake is located in the state’s eastern part, in East Haddam. Nathaniel Hayward, a businessman, and inventor who founded the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was honored with the name of the 70-hectare lake.

There are four beaches on the lake, each of which is privately owned. Because no powered engines are allowed on the lake, it is a tranquil and soothing place to spend some time.

There are several private homes and cottages along the lake’s shoreline, a store, a public boat launch, and a parking area.

The Bolton Lakes

The Bolton Lakes

Although this one comprises three independent lakes, the bodies of water are collectively known as the Bolton Lakes due to their near vicinity. The lakes are referred to as the Lower, Middle, and Upper Bolton Lakes, respectively.

Lower Bolton Lake, with 175 acres, is the largest and most popular of the three, followed by Middle Bolton Lake, at 121 acres, and Upper Bolton Lake, at 50 acres. Bolton Notch Pond is also about a mile south of Lower Bolton Lake, close to Freja Park and Bolton Notch State Park.

A boat launch and a public beach are available at the Bolton Lakes, while adjacent parks offer miles of hiking and mountain bike paths.

Indian Notch Park is located on the eastern side of Lower Bolton Lake and features a basketball court, baseball field, picnic spaces, grills, and a fresh food market throughout the summer.

Swimming, boating, and year-round fishing are all popular activities in the Bolton Lakes. Bolton’s tagline is “a town for all seasons,” and it’ll be easy to see why after a visit to these stunning lakes!

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake is located east of the Connecticut River in the same name in northwestern Connecticut. Sandy Beach, a famous summer resort, is the most well-known part of the lake.

The most popular beach activities are undoubtedly swimming and sunbathing. It’s worth noting that there is a small entrance fee to the beach.

The rest of the beach is entirely made up of houses. Apart from the beach and a public boat ramp on the west side of the lake, there are few public facilities, so come prepared.

Hop Brook Lake

Hop Brook Lake

Hop, The municipalities of Middlebury, Waterbury, and Naugatuck, are responsible for Brook Lake. It’s bustling (sorry, we had to) with people during the summer months, soaking up the sun and cooling off with a pleasant dip in the clean waters.

The lake’s recreation area includes a sandy beach that both children and adults will enjoy. It also makes water sports like sailing, kayaking, fishing, and canoeing very accessible.

You won’t be able to water ski because motorboats are not permitted on the lake, but there is so much to see and do that you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

The lake’s recreation section is only available from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, so plan your trip appropriately.

Saugatuck Reservoir

Saugatuck Reservoir

This is one of the most popular fishing spots in Connecticut, particularly for trout. Bluegill, pickerel, crappie, bass, and walleye are all abundant in Saugatuck Reservoir.

The Samuel P. Senior dam built the 335-hectare lake, which supplies water to the surrounding communities. The Trout Brook Valley State Park Reserve at its southern end is also a very attractive lake.

The park is an excellent area to go trekking and take in some fresh air. Six trials, as well as locations where hunting is permitted, are located throughout the park.

Lake Lillinonah

Lake Lillinonah

This is one of the most popular fishing spots in Connecticut, particularly for trout. Bluegill, pickerel, crappie, bass, and walleye are all abundant in Saugatuck Reservoir.

The Samuel P. Senior dam built the 335-hectare lake, which supplies water to the surrounding communities. The Trout Brook Valley State Park Reserve at its southern end is also a very attractive lake.

The park is an excellent area to go trekking and take in some fresh air. Six trials, as well as locations where hunting is permitted, are located throughout the park.

Stillwater Pond

Stillwater Pond

“Mirror Lake,” as some locals call it, is a stunning sight. Those who are fortunate enough to arrive on a bright, sunny day will quickly understand why.

The quiet, pure water of this 100-acre “pond” nestled in Stillwater Pond State Park wonderfully mirrors its amazing woodland surrounds. It’s no surprise that they dubbed it “Stillwater.”

The greatest time to go is in the fall when the multicolored foliage is at its most vibrant. For a gorgeous backdrop, you can’t beat this picture-perfect, postcard-worthy location.

Sitting serenely on the coast, the most charming white cabin can be found across from the paved boat launch at the public parking area off Route 272.

When traveling in October, be careful where you step. Acorns have fallen to the ground and are considerably more slippery than you may suppose.

Lake Saltonstall

Lake Saltonstall

Lake Saltonstall is a long, narrow lake within the Saltonstall Mountain, located immediately southeast of New Haven. The mountain almost fully encircles the lake, creating some stunning scenery.

Hiking, cycling, and cross-country skiing are all possible on the trail that surrounds the lake. You might see a few different species of birds and other wildlife while walking the trail.

At Lake Saltonstall, swimming is prohibited, but fishing is permitted. It’s important to know that you’ll need a permit to fish here.

West Thompson Lake

West Thompson Lake

This 80-hectare lake is located in Connecticut’s northeast corner. It was built as part of the Quinebaug River damming project and is now a popular recreational area.

The West Thompson Lake Campground is located on the east side of the lake and provides tourists with a place to sleep and hike. The six-kilometer Shoreline Trail loops around the lake and is one of three primary trail systems in the area.

Fishing, kayaking, and boating can all be done on the lake itself, which is accessible by public boat ramps. On the lake’s shores, there’s also an 18-hole disc golf course.

Final Words

We appreciate you taking the time to read our post about the 18 Best Lakes in Connecticut. Kindly notify us if you have any additional comments or questions in the section below. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Please don’t forget to read also: 14 Amazing Waterfalls in Connecticut

Lakes in Connecticut

  1. Candlewood Lake
  2. Squantz Pond
  3. Mashapaug Lake
  4. Bantam Lake
  5. Mansfield Hollow Lake
  6. Lake Waramaug
  7. Winchester Lake
  8. Lake Zoar
  9. Gardner Lake
  10. Lake Hayward
  11. The Bolton Lakes
  12. Crystal Lake
  13. Hop Brook Lake
  14. Saugatuck Reservoir
  15. Lake Lillinonah
  16. Stillwater Pond
  17. Lake Saltonstall
  18. West Thompson Lake

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