Crystal Lake, Massachusetts, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Massachusetts - Greater Boston -

Also known as:  Wiswall Pond, Silver Lake, Baptist Pond

Crystal Lake has a long history of being the ‘town lake’ in Newton, Massachusetts. Located in the Greater Boston area, this small natural lake is one of New England’s Great Ponds and thus under court degree, considered government property for the use of the public. This wasn’t always so: for over two centuries, the lake and its shoreline belonged to one family and the people to whom they sold lots. Lakefront parcels were sold over the years and today a total of 18 private landowners have properties adjoining the lake.

The City of Newton owns three parcels of land on Crystal Lake used for parkland and public access. The area called Crystal Lake Park is located at the southwest end of the lake. In recent years, the city obtained an extra parcel via eminent domain to enlarge the park. Here, a swimming beach is heavily used by Newton residents. Swimming is limited to certain hours between mid-June and mid-August when lifeguards are present. A yearly resident swim pass is required of all city residents to use the lake and park, although one-day passes are available for purchase by non-residents. A bathhouse built in 1930 is currently undergoing renovations to make it more accommodating to all populations. Because swim times and hours are strictly limited, a group advocating ‘swim at your own risk’ is working to expand swimming opportunities.

The attractive Crystal Lake Park holds walkways and benches for enjoying the tranquil lake scene. The bathhouse complex also houses a community center with rooms for meetings and club functions by reservation. Aquatic lessons are held at the park each summer, and several day camps for children occur during the warmer months. The park is the location of festivals and events throughout the year such as art shows and school field trips. Levingston Cove adjoins the main park via walking trail and offers an expanded opportunity to view the many birds and waterfowl that inhabit the little lake’s environs. Some of the local fauna that have been sighted include black duck, mallards, great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, grebe, cormorant, Canada geese, belted kingfisher, osprey and raccoon. There is no actual path around the lake, but sidewalks in the adjacent neighborhoods make for excellent walking opportunities.

At the north end of the lake is a boat and canoe launching area at Cronin Cove. This area allows some parking, but only hand-carried boats may be launched. Electric motors are permitted up to 3 horsepower; canoes, kayaks, inflatable boats and row boats are encouraged. Due to the small size of the lake, jet skis, water skis and sculling crews are prohibited. Sailing is allowed for sailboats that can be hand-carried to the water. Wind surfing is popular. All boats must have a registration permit from the City of Newton, and all boating and fishing regulations must be followed. The lake has rainbow trout and brown trout stocked annually as they do not reproduce in the small lake. Sunfish, bluegill, chain pickerel and largemouth bass are also caught. The few private homes bordering the lake are allowed to launch their own boats and swim from their property. Located near Newton Center, the lake is an urban oasis in a highly populated area. Keeping it protected and safe is a monumental task to which local organizations and city leaders are committed.

Several groups concern themselves with Crystal Lake activities. The Friends of Crystal Lake work with city officials to formulate regulations, assist in park clean-up and put on activities for children to interest them in conservation. Crystal Lake Conservancy oversees property around the lake that has conservation easements attached. This interest in preserving and beautifying the area around Crystal Lake is not new. The Newton Centre Improvement Association was formed as early as 1870 dedicated to improving residents’ opportunities for lake-based fun. A publication by the Association in 1911 details the long history of the area and the changes that have occurred. It is from this old publication that we find our only statistics for the lake. The lake’s water comes from both surface run-off and numerous underwater springs.

This history tells us that the lake was first called Wiswall Pond after the Wiswall family who lived there. The lake was included in the 1000-acre land grant bestowed upon John Haynes in 1614, who never moved there from Cambridge and eventually sold the property. Later the lake was called Silver Lake. After the first Baptist Church was built along the shoreline and the lake used for baptism, it became Baptist Pond. Before the turn of the last century, the property owners leased the lake to an ice company who produced ice in the winter. The ice company renamed the lake Crystal Lake, no doubt as an advertising ploy to convince customers of their quality ice. There was no swimming beach during those early days.

A boardwalk was built along the lake and gas lights installed on some portions. In the past, the lake was popular for ice skating, which is no longer allowed. The railroad bed along the eastern shoreline of the lake was lowered to improve grade crossings in the area, and storm sewers prevented less water from entering the lake as previously. The lake’s water levels became lower as a result of these two projects and for a time, many were worried it would disappear completely. It eventually stabilized and what remained is the existing Crystal Lake.

When state legislature instituted the Great Pond designation on all publicly-owned ponds over 10 acres, Crystal Lake went through a series of court battles. According to the 1614 land grant, the 33-acre lake was not public property. The City of Newton held that because the lake had been leased to the ice company without formal complaint constituted proof that it had reverted to the public domain. The fact that the public had used the lake without challenge for swimming and boating for many years made it public property and thus it should fall under the Great Pond legislation. A Supreme Court decision found for the Great Pond designation based on its interpretation of old English Commons law in effect at the time of the land grant. However, the designation also carries with it a requirement to make Crystal Lake accessible to the public. In 1991, the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife ordered the Newton Parks and Recreation Commission to allow public access for fishing and boating.

Crystal Lake can be accessed from Boston via public transportation. A number of hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts in the area provide lodgings, and the city has numerous restaurants and shops. Canoeing and kayaking on the nearby Charles River is a popular activity. The Mary Baker Eddy House showcases the life story of this founder of Christian Science. The McMullen Art Museum on the grounds of Boston College is worth a visit for the ever-changing exhibits. And several historic homes are available for tours, along with antique shopping to take home the perfect souvenir. So, if visiting the Boston area, plan on making the short side-trip to Newton and Crystal Lake. It’ll be waiting, just like it has for 400 years.

Things to do at Crystal Lake Boston

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Wind Surfing
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Crystal Lake Boston

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Crystal Lake Boston Photo Gallery

Crystal Lake Boston Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 33 acres

Shoreline Length: 1 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 141 feet

Maximum Depth: 31 feet

Water Volume: 436 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 70 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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