Bolton Lakes, Connecticut, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Connecticut - River Valley -

Also known as:  Bolton Lake, Upper Bolton Lake, Middle Bolton Lake, Lower Bolton Lake

Bolton Lakes is conveniently located in Connecticut’s Tolland County, just 14 miles east of the state’s capital city of Hartford. The series of three freshwater lakes are individually known as the Lower, Middle, and Upper Bolton Lakes. Connected by a dam and spillway, they are situated in the heart of the Constitution State’s River Valley tourism region.

With a surface area of 175 acres and an average depth of 11 feet, Lower Bolton Lake is by far the biggest and busiest of the trio. Adored by anglers, boatsmen, and nature enthusiasts alike, the lake features varied real estate properties and vacation rentals as a direct result of its popularity. Highlights include a public beach and a state-run boat launch. Lower Bolton Lake Dam is located on the southeast corner of the reservoir, near Indian Notch Park — about 2/3 of a mile south of Upper Bolton Lake Dam. This earth embankment is an impressive 880 feet long and 18.5 feet high, with a 200-foot concrete spillway and a maximum storage capacity of 2,325 acre-feet. Due to damage wrought by a hurricane in 1938, the dam is not in top form, but can still control water levels for recreational purposes.

Middle Bolton Lake is similar to Lower Bolton, but on a slightly smaller scale: it boasts a surface area of 121 acres, a maximum depth of 20 feet, and an average depth of 12 feet. Upper Bolton Lake Dam, a structure composed of both concrete and earth, is located on the southern side of this artificial impoundment. Real estate and vacation rentals can be found along most of the shoreline of Middle Bolton.

Upper Bolton Lake is the smallest of the three Bolton Lakes, with a surface area of of 50 acres. It feeds runoff into Middle Bolton Lake via a spillway underneath a country road, and offers one state-owned boat ramp for public access. With an average depth of three feet and a maximum depth of 7.5 feet, the body of water is not quite as ideal for boating and water sports as its southern neighbors — a six horsepower engine limit is in place for all watercraft. Surrounded mostly by marsh, Upper Bolton lacks any significant lakeside developments.

Kayaking, sailing, canoeing, swimming, and year-round fishing are just a handful of the many activities that Bolton Lakes has to offer. Here, the most commonly caught species include catfish, panfish, perch, sunfish and largemouth bass. Ice fishing for bass is hugely popular during the winter months, and come spring the Bolton Lake Sailing Club hosts a Sunfish sailboat racing regatta. Softball and baseball yoga and bingo provide other interesting diversions, along with a youth summer camp. For mountain biking and hiking, the best trek in the area is a section of the Hop River State Park Trail that picks up in Bolton and finishes in Columbia. This six-mile portion of trail is quite tough, as it follows an old railroad track along extremely rugged terrain.

Just south of Bolton Lake, you’ll find the historic Town of Bolton — a charming municipality that was incorporated back in 1720, having previously been a part of Hartford. Many of the first pilgrims to migrate here in the early 1600s were from an English city also known as Bolton, after which this New England town was named. Throughout the years, Bolton residents played instrumental roles in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. Before the arrival of European settlers, the lands were used as hunting grounds by the Podunk Native Americans.

Today, the town owns and operates three parks around Bolton Lakes: Freja, Indian Notch, and Herrick. Freja Park consists of 21 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to Bolton Pond. Just next to Lower Bolton Lake, Indian Notch Park is made up of 27 acres of wooded areas and 300 feet of sandy beach, positively ideal for swimming and sunbathing. While an irresistible fresh food market draws crowds during the summer, amenities like grills, picnic areas, bathrooms, a basketball court and a baseball diamond attract groups and families year-round. Herrick Park is located farther south, featuring an impressive playground, picnic area, and a set of interchangeable soccer or baseball fields (depending upon the season). A man-made skating rink can also be enjoyed here during the wintertime, while the nearby community building is available for special events. A smattering of other parks and lakes situated near Bolton Lakes make for perfect day trips. To the south, Gay City State Park features 1500 acres of woodlands, a fishing pond, and a veritable ghost town that was abandoned during the area’s old milling days. Southeast, the sparkling Lake Coventry is surrounded by Nathan Hale State Forest, which was named after Connecticut state hero Nathan Hale, a revolutionary war patriot and spy for the Continental Army.

Bolton Lake’s isolation, tranquility, and stunning New England countryside make it a truly special place to live, rent or own a lakeside property. Here, it is impossible not to fall in love with the great outdoors — particularly during autumn, when millions of fire-red and orange leaves fall gracefully from the trees. The municipality of Bolton’s motto, “a town of all seasons,” certainly extends to Bolton Lakes, with their striking array of year-round recreation and peaceful scenery.

Things to do at Bolton Lakes

  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Playground

Fish species found at Bolton Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Sunfish

Bolton Lakes Photo Gallery

Bolton Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

Surface Area: 346 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 667 feet

Maximum Depth: 20 feet

Drainage Area: 4 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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