Chateaugay Lakes, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Adirondacks -

Also known as:  Upper Chateaugay Lake, Lower Chateaugay Lake

Sprawling across nearly 3,200 acres near the Canadian border, the Chateaugay Lakes are held dear in the hearts of many northern New Yorkers. Located entirely within the Adirondack Park borders, Upper Chateaugay Lake and Lower Chateaugay Lake are connected by the main channel of the Chateaugay River. Headwaters of the Chateaugay River, the lakes attained their current size when a dam was built in 1921 across the outlet for use by an iron works. Called Forge Dam, the water barrier is owned by the Village of Bellmont. Taxes from the residents of Bellmont, Dannemora and Ellenburg maintain the dam.

Over 25 miles of wooded shoreline shelter numerous private homes, children’s camps, timberlands and a protected wetland area within the Chazy Highlands Wildlife Management Area. Public access to the lakes is at the Department of Environmental Conservation boat ramp on the river channel between Upper and Lower Chateaugay lakes. The two lakes and the river channel between them provide for a boating paradise about 12 miles long. Only the small village of Merritt lies along the lake itself. The business districts of Dannemora, Ellensburg, Brainerdsville, Bellmont, Lyon Mountain and Chateaugay provide services, lodgings and shopping a short distance away. Property owners enjoy sailing, power boating, wind surfing and other water sports. In winter, ice fishing and skating are enjoyed on the lakes. No access at the boat ramp is permitted for ice fishing because of unsafe ice conditions on the river. Due to limited public access, most lake use is by locals and those who arrange a short-term stay at a privately-owned lake house.

Chateaugay Lakes are rich in wildlife. Loons, osprey and common harrier nest in the area, and migratory birds and waterfowl stop off in their annual migrations to rest, fish and feed. Parts of the Chazy Highlands Wildlife Management Area is open for hunting in season, and the small channels among the reeds are excellent places to explore via canoe or kayak.

Fishing is good with a wide variety of sport fish of interest to anglers. There are more yellow perch in the lake than anything else, although illegally introduced northern pike are quickly gaining a foothold. Landlocked salmon, lake trout, a few rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, rock bass and pumpkinseed can also be caught. The wide variety of fish is due to the different characteristics of the two lake basins. Larger Upper Chateaugay Lake is much deeper, reaching depths of 72 feet with an average depth of 35 feet. Smaller Lower Chateaugay Lake only reaches a depth of 25 feet with an average of 12 feet. Several inflowing streams provide spawning area, and extensive wetlands at the south end of the upper lake assure plenty of cover for young fry.

Quiet roads along much of the shoreline provide excellent places for walking and cycling. The surrounding foothills of the Adirondack Mountains offer a wealth of hiking and climbing opportunities. In winter, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are popular, making a place at Chateaugay Lakes the perfect base camp for a recreation break any time of the year. Only 30 miles west of Plattsburgh, Chateaugay Lakes are a desirable place for a weekend or retirement home. Most property ownership is held by local residents with about 15% being owned by Canadian citizens from Quebec. Montreal is only 100 miles to the northeast.

Children lucky enough to enjoy a summer at the camps along the western shoreline can experience the best of woods, water and mountains-an experience they will never forget. One nearby place worth visiting while staying at the lakes is the Lyon Mountain Mining and Railroad Museum. Here, visitors learn about the history of the area, particularly its rich mining history. The surrounding area has a number of camping venues and small guest resorts. A few local artisan shops brighten many crossroads.

The Chateaugay Lake Foundation and Chateaugay Lakes Association work to protect the fragile environment of the lakes and surroundings. Recently, efforts have focused on ridding the lakes of invasive Eurasian milfoil. Many lake community activities are accompanied by fund-raising efforts to generate dollars for this effort. Water levels are officially managed by the Water Level Control Board. This board is made up of members appointed by each of the three towns whose taxes pay for dam upkeep. However, after the dam was rebuilt in 1992, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency claimed jurisdiction over its operation. The current crest of the dam is 18 inches lower than previously. Prior to the rebuilding, the water was usually drawn down in winter to prevent ice damage to shorelines and alleviate flooding. The dam is now permitted only for run-of-river water control, and lowering water levels is prohibited except when high water threatens the structure itself.

Major local flooding occurred in 1996 and 1998 after the new dam was in place. So, it appears that water level control will be up to the courts to decide. Meanwhile, there are still beautiful homes for sale and vacation rentals to be had along the shoreline with lovely views of both water and the surrounding green hills. Loons still call in the foggy morning mists and children still play in the shallows. The fish are still jumping at barely seen insects-and hopefully your lure. So schedule a week at your favorite vacation rental and come on up to beautiful Chateaugay Lakes. Heaven awaits!

*Statistics are for both lakes and the river channel between the two.

Things to do at Chateaugay Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Wind Surfing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Chateaugay Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Chateaugay Lakes Photo Gallery

Chateaugay Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Chateaugay Lake Water Level Control District Board,others

Surface Area: 3,163 acres

Shoreline Length: 25 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,309 feet

Average Depth: 33 feet

Maximum Depth: 78 feet

Water Volume: 92,418 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1992

Drainage Area: 101 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic/mesotrophic

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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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