Onota Lake, Massachusetts, USA

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

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All About Onota Lake

Tucked away in the gently rolling hills of the Berkshires and surrounded by the City of Pittsfield, Onota Lake is a fantastic destination in the western region of Massachusetts. With 617 acres of water, the lake has more than enough room for boating and water sports, and anglers will find plenty of fish to challenge them. The water, however, is just the tip of what Onota Lake has to offer. The lake is close to all the attractions of the Berkshires including concerts, live theatre and festivals. Onota Lake is an ideal home base to start exploring the many reasons people have been coming to the Berkshires since the 1800’s.

Onota Lake is a natural lake that was enlarged by the construction of a dam. The southern basin was the original lake before the dam. It was bordered by an old roadway that, although submerged, still separates the two basins, earning Lake Onota the nickname “two lakes in one.” Onota Brook is the lake’s outflow, flowing southeast to join the West Branch of the Housatonic River.

Lake Onota has a maximum depth of 66 feet and an average depth of 22 feet. It is classified as mesotrophic or moderately fertile. Established in 1985, the Lake Onota Preservation Association (LOPA) is a citizen organization created to monitor and protect the quality of water in the lake. Water levels are drawn down three feet in the fall to improve water quality, protect the shoreline from ice, and prevent flooding from spring runoff. The City of Pittsfield owns both the lake and dam and is responsible for the water levels.

The City of Pittsfield also manages Burbank Park on the eastern shore of Onota Lake. The 153-acre park has swimming beaches, a pavilion and is used for concerts during the summer. The park encompasses a quarter of the lake’s shore and provides public access to the lake. There is a double concrete boat ramp with parking, giving visitors a chance to explore the lake by boat, sailboat, canoe, kayak or on water skis. The park also includes a fishing pier.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stocks Onota Lake with brown trout, and anglers come to the lake hoping to catch a trophy. The lake also holds healthy populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, white perch, black crappie and bluegill. In the winter, ice fishing for northern pike draws anglers to Onota Lake.

Winter brings plenty of snow to the Berkshires, and trails for snowmobiling and cross country skiing cross the region. Some of the trails run through the Pittsfield State Forest which also has trails for hiking and biking. The state forest includes 65 acres of wild azaleas which burst into pink flowers in early summer.

The Berkshires have something to offer in every season, and in addition to the natural beauty and outdoor recreation, they are known for their cultural events and museums. The Hancock Shaker Village was occupied until it was sold in 1960 to a group that wanted to protect the village, its buildings and artifacts. It opened as a museum the following year and is a great day trip from Onota Lake. Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony, is a short drive from the lake as is the Shakespeare Theatre.

Vacation rentals dot the shore of Lake Onota, particularly on the northeast and southwest shores, and real estate is available for sale both on the lake and in Pittsfield. With its beautiful fish-filled waters, gently rolling hills and plentiful cultural opportunities, Lake Onota is a perfect starting point for a Berkshires getaway.

Things to Do at Onota Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Forest
  • Museum

Fish Species Found at Onota Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • White Perch
  • Yellow Perch

Find Places to Stay at Onota Lake

If you’re considering a Onota 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 Onota Lake Vacation

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

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.

Onota Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Pittsfield

Surface Area: 617 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,086 feet

Average Depth: 22 feet

Maximum Depth: 66 feet

Drainage Area: 10 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.

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