Highland Lake, Connecticut, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Highland Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Highland Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Highland Lake

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

  • 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

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

Find Places to Stay at Highland Lake

If you’re considering a Highland Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Highland Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Highland Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Highland Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

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

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Highland Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

SHOP NOW
Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

SHOP NOW
Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz

SHOP NOW
VIEW ALL CUSTOM LAKE PRODUCTS

Advertise Your Highland Lake Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.

divider

Looking for the Highland Lake Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Highland Lake Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Highland Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!