Lake Zoar, Connecticut, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Connecticut - Litchfield Hills -

Also known as:  Zoar Lake

With more than 900 acres of boating and fishing waters bordered by shoreline vistas, southwestern Connecticut’s Lake Zoar is a great outdoor destination. Lake Zoar provides recreation areas with boat ramps, kayaking, swimming, canoeing, wildlife viewing, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The lake is long and narrow, stretching some 10 river-like miles with steep forested banks along most of its length. Rocky Glen is located at the northern end, and the Stevenson Dam defines the southern end. The roadbed across the top of the dam was originally used by horse and buggy, Model T’s, and now by 18 wheelers – a long lasting testament to the construction.

Connecticut Light and Power created Lake Zoar by building Stevenson Dam to impound the Housatonic River below Shepaug Dam. The resulting reservoir was designed to generate hydroelectric power; FirstLight Power Resources now operates the dam. Construction of the dam and powerhouse was completed in 1919. At that point in time the dam was the epitome of the utility’s construction and, even today, it is a Connecticut marvel. The four units produce an output of 28,900 kilowatts for the operator. In 1919, Lake Zoar was Connecticut’s largest lake.

Anglers enjoy Lake Zoar’s populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, chain pickerel, sunfish, and large bullhead catfish. Four boat launch ramps provide access. The State of Connecticut operates the Southbury boat launch ramp. The towns of Monroe, Newtown, and Oxford maintain fee-operated boat ramps. Two parks, Kettletown State Park and Jackson Cove Park, provide camping,fishing, hiking and picnicking. Jackson Cove Park offers a sandy swim beach.

Lake Zoar is a popular destination for paddling, kayaking, and canoeing. The Housatonic Valley River Trail has been established to capitalize on that popularity (see link below). The area has an abundance of birdlife. For the geocachers among us, there are more than 200 caches within reach. Combine your birding, hiking and paddling with your geocaching for a great outing. The picturesque lake environs make for ideal conditions for nature enthusiasts and camera bugs.

The Zoar Trail is a 7-mile Blue-Blazed hiking trail in Paugussett State Forest that follows the shore of Lake Zoar. One of four side trails follows Prydden Brook to Prydden Falls which cascades over moss-covered rocks into Lake Zoar.

For those interested in touring the area in their auto, there is the Valley Heritage Driving Tour (see the link below). With pictures and descriptions of historical landmarks, the Tour makes for a very interesting and educational trip.

Visitors to southwestern Connecticut should make Lake Zoar one of the top places to stop, relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Reference: A Fisheries Guide to Lakes and Ponds of Connecticut, published by the Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, Connecticut, 2002

Things to do at Lake Zoar

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest

Fish species found at Lake Zoar

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bullhead Catfish
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Zoar Photo Gallery

Lake Zoar Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: FirstLight Power Resources

Surface Area: 909 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 189 feet

Average Depth: 29 feet

Maximum Depth: 72 feet

Water Volume: 26,361 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1919

Drainage Area: 1,541 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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