Highland Lake, Connecticut, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Connecticut - Litchfield Hills -

Highland Lake is a 444-acre lake nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Litchfield County near the city of Winsted, Connecticut. Known as a resort lake due to well developed upscale homes on most of its shoreline, the crystal-clear water is also valued for its fishing, boating, swimming and water skiing opportunities.

Highland Lake began as an impoundment on the Mad River. In 1860, the town of Winchester constructed a dam across the river for flood control and later hydroelectric purposes. A unique feature of this dam is its spillway. During high water, the overflow from the lake washes over the top of the dam and across a major street. Traffic using the street must drive through the water. The construction of the dam raised the lake approximately 10 feet from its original height. Today the lake has a maximum depth of 63 feet and stretches for three miles when at full capacity.

Highland Lake is composed of three bays logically named First, Second and Third Bay. Although mostly lined with permanent and summer residences, a forested area that is part of Burr Pond State Park is located on the west side of the southern end of Third Bay. To gain access to the water, visitors can use a state boat launch located on First Bay on the northern end. Second Bay is the shallowest section of the lake and also has some of the best fishing. Fish in the lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, Atlantic salmon, and kokanee trout. Note: Although most fish taken from Connecticut lakes and streams are safe to eat, refer to the Connecticut Fish Consumption Advisory (link below) before eating fish caught from any Connecticut waterway.

For families who like to camp, several private campgrounds can be found near Burr Pond State Park to the south of Highland Lake and Platt Hill State Park to the west of the lake. Platt Hill State Park has been closed for a number of years, but the area is still used for hiking and wildlife viewing. Camping is also available at the American Legion State Forest located east of Highland Lake. For non-campers, vacation rentals and private real estate on Highland Lake are abundant; additional lodging is available in the city of Winsted.

For additional outdoor recreation, the Mad River Reservoir and Rugg Brook Reservoir are located northwest of Highland Lake and offer wildlife viewing and hiking. South of Highland Lake is Paugnut State Forest and Sunny Brook State Forest. Paugnut State Forest is part of a 2,410-acre contiguous park and forest complex that includes Burr Pond State Park and Sunny Brook State Park. Popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, hunting and cross-country skiing. Burr Pond State Park is a great place to spend a summer afternoon. Burr Pond offers fishing, boating and swimming and the surrounding area is great for hiking. The Wolcott Trail is a scenic 2.5-mile relatively flat trail that circles Burr Pond.

East of Highland Lake is the American Legion and Peoples State Forests. These two forests offer camping, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, picnic facilities, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling trails. The West Branch of the Farmington River, designated as a Wild and Scenic River by the National Park Service, is the focal point of the heavily forested land and offers river-based recreational activities including trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing.

West of Highland Lake is Crystal Lake, a primary source of drinking water for the town of Winchester. The 145-acre sparking lake is also known for its boating and excellent trout fishing. The city of Winsted, located within the town Winchester, is just east of Highland Lake. The town is noted for its stately Victorian, Greek Revival, Neo-Classical, Ecclesiastical, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival homes. The Main Street area is lined with inviting shops and restaurants. For children there is a skateboard park, a huge Playscape park, ball fields, and miniature golf with batting cages and go carts. Winsted also provides the area with complete shopping facilities

15 minutes south on Route 8 is the City of Torrington, the largest city in Litchfield County. Visitors to Highland Lake will find Torrington to be a mix of retail and tourist attractions. The downtown area is a thriving cultural center, boasting the Warner Theatre and the renowned Nutmeg Conservatory. Antique dealers, art houses, art deco architecture and small specialty shops makes the area appealing for residents and tourists alike. There are also a number of city parks and hiking trails that allow visitors to truly enjoy the beauty of the area.

The scenic wooded hillsides and reputation for outstanding fishing make Highland Lake a great vacation destination or just a beautiful and quiet location to retire to and have fun. Paddle the quiet water, hike the scenic hills and end your day watching the setting sun cast its colors across the lake.

Things to do at Highland Lake CT

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • National Park
  • City Park
  • Miniature Golf
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Highland Lake CT

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Highland Lake CT Photo Gallery

    Highland Lake CT Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Town of Winchester

    Surface Area: 444 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 879 feet

    Average Depth: 24 feet

    Maximum Depth: 63 feet

    Water Volume: 11,800 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1860

    Drainage Area: 7 sq. miles

    Trophic State: 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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