Highland Lake (Westbook), Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Greater Portland & Casco Bay -

Also known as:  Duck Pond

Located in the Portland-Casco Bay region of southern Maine, Highland Lake is well-used and well-loved. The 623-acre lake was originally called Duck Pond in the early 1700s and somehow evolved to be called Highland Lake. Because the beautiful lake is only a dozen miles from the City of Portland, the dam that was built at the lake’s outlet to power mills contributed to the industrial growth of the area and made it a popular place for homes and cottages. The settlement that grew up near the dam in the 1700s was called Duck Pond Corners.

Highland Lake forms the headwaters of Mill Brook, a tributary to the Presumpscot River which flows into Casco Bay. The dam has been rebuilt more than once, being owned by the City of Westbrook since 1936. About 500 homes and cottages now share the eight miles of shoreline, although the heavily wooded banks give the lake a feeling of wilderness and solitude. The only public access to the lake is a small boat launch suitable for hand-carried boats and parking for a few cars. Most lakefront property owners (many of whom nostalgically call their cottages ‘camps’) have their own launch facilities, docks and swim areas. An active group of property owners make up the Highland Lake Association and are involved in water quality monitoring, problem remediation and lakefront education. The group has worked extensively and successfully with other water ecology groups toward repairing a sedimentation problem and keeping invasive species from invading the lake. Due to their efforts, aided by federal water quality grants, Highland Lake was removed from the State list of ‘impaired’ lakes.

Local property owners enjoy water skiing, sailing, jet skiing, pontooning and other water sports. In shallower areas there are many rocks, usually marked by buoys. The boat launch allows for small fishing boats, canoes and kayaks to access the water. Fishing is good for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, white perch, splake and chain pickerel. The rugged irregular shoreline is a popular place for paddling, with numerous songbirds, eagles, great blue herons and ducks sharing the skies and lake margins. The area is a natural wildlife haven, with moose, coyote, deer, beaver, fox owls and other forest denizens of the Maine countryside. In winter the lake is heavily used for snowmobiling and ice fishing. The few rental properties on the lake are in great demand, with many families returning every year. Most vacation rentals include the use of a boat or raft.

Although there are few organized hiking trails in the immediate vicinity, the 280-acre Blackstrap Hill Preserve is located a few miles to the east. The preserve has a large trail network accommodating hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, nature observance, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The only motorized vehicles permitted are snowmobiles on designated, marked trails. Located along the Piscataqua River, the preserve holds several spectacular waterfalls on tributary streams and is a favorite hiking spot among day visitors from Portland.

With metropolitan Portland close by, Highland Lake is a popular summer respite. Its proximity to the entertainment and culture afforded by larger Portland makes even year-round living an easy commute. Visitors to the area can take advantage of its proximity to Casco Bay to enjoy sea kayaking, sea fishing, boat tours, lighthouse visits and several Atlantic beach venues. Portland Head Light was commissioned by General George Washington in 1791 and was the first national sentry light. The scene is reputed to be the nation’s most photographed lighthouse. Several other lighthouses can be accessed on one of the cycling tours regularly offered by a local tourism business.

Portland has several well-known art museums near the Maine College of Art, including the Portland Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art. The Maine Historical Society is located next door to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home. Architecture buffs won’t want to miss the historic Stroudwater district including colonial Tate House and Victoria Mansion. Portland also holds plenty of restaurants and lodging options. A few campgrounds are found locally near the beach. Visitors to Highland Lake can enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fun within half an hour of each other. Those looking for real estate will find all types of properties available on local lakes, including Highland Lake.

Although a fish ladder has been available at the Highland Lake Dam since the mid-20th century, the system was recently rebuilt, facilitating the migration of the native alewives to the lake to spawn. An issue of contention since the first dam was built along the river, the alewives’ blocked migratory path even sparked a war with the local Native American tribe in the 1700s and was repeatedly ordered remediated by various courts over the intervening years. Finally, the new fish ladder, along with the removal of a dam at Presumpscot Falls, has allowed the species to follow their ancient migration paths to spawn in Highland Lake before returning to the Atlantic to live most of their lives. Unlike many migrating species, the alewives do not die after spawning and may return several times during their lifespan.

Another improvement desired by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife hasn’t met with nearly as much success. With the improved water quality, the Fisheries Department wanted to improve the local boat access to accommodate larger power boats. Local residents strenuously objected, saying increased boating would increase the danger of invasive species infestation and overcrowd an already busy lake. In response, the Fisheries Department has declared they will no longer stock fish in Highland Lake until other boaters are given ‘parity’. So, the boat ramp remains limited to hand-carried boats, and it remains to be seen if the fishery is adversely affected.

One thing that is certain is how beautiful Highland Lake looks glimmering under a full moon or with mist rising from the surface on a chilly early morning. The lake can only continue to grow in popularity. Make sure you’re one of the lucky ones to share the experience.

Things to do at Highland Lake (Westbook)

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Highland Lake (Westbook)

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Splake Trout
  • Trout
  • White Perch

Highland Lake (Westbook) Photo Gallery

    Highland Lake (Westbook) Statistics & Helpful Links

    divider

    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: City of Westbrook, ME

    Surface Area: 623 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 190 feet

    Average Depth: 22 feet

    Maximum Depth: 67 feet

    Water Volume: 14,000 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1936

    Water Residence Time: .7 years

    Drainage Area: 9 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Eutrophic

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

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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."


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.