Pontoosuc Lake, Massachusetts, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Massachusetts - Western -

Pontoosuc Lake is in the heart of the Berkshires, straddling the border between the City of Pittsfield and the Town of Lanesborough in the Western region of Massachusetts Visitors have been flocking to the Berkshires since the 1800’s, fleeing the dirt, noise, and heat of the city in favor of the area’s gently rolling hills, lush state forests and clean, clear water. A vacation rental on Pontoosuc Lake is an ideal place to enjoy a Berkshires getaway.

Pontoosuc Lake is a popular recreation lake with heavy traffic on summer weekends. There are several public access points including a boat ramp on the Pittsfield side of the lake owned by the Public Access Board. The Lanesborough side of the lake has several access points for launching car top boats. Pontoosuc Lake covers 480 acres with a maximum depth of 35 feet and an average depth of 14 feet, attracting boaters, kayakers and water skiers.

Anglers can find exceptional fishing year round on Pontoosuc Lake. The lake is home to abundant populations of yellow perch, white perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed, black crappie and chain pickerel. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stocks the lake with tiger muskies, and in the winter anglers drill their holes and set up shelters to ice fish, hoping to hook one of the huge tiger muskies from Pontoosuc Lake. Brown trout are also stocked in the lake as well as in some of the streams that feed the lake.

Pontoosuc Lake is drawn down three feet every fall to protect the lake and shore and prepare for spring runoff. The lake and dam were owned by Berkshire County. In 2000 when the county government was dissolved, however, ownership reverted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Pontoosuc Lake Dam is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation which controls water levels on the lake. The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake, made up of citizens from Pittsfield and Lanesborough, works to monitor and protect the lake’s water quality. Minor fish consumption advisories are in place for the lake, but in general the water quality is good.

The border between Pittsfield and Lanesborough runs through the center of Pontoosuc Lake. The City of Pittsfield was incorporated in 1861 and has any amenity a visitor might need including shops, restaurants and various accommodations. Lanesborough was one of the first towns to be settled in the area. It started out as Richfield and changed its name to honor the Countess of Lanesborough when it was incorporated in 1765. Visitors stroll the streets of the charming town, stopping to window shop or eat in one of the restaurants. Both the Pittsfield and Lanesborough sides of Pontoosuc Lake have waterfront vacation rentals as well as real estate available for sale.

It is a short drive from Pontoosuc Lake to the Pittsfield State Forest and well worth the trip. In the early summer the state forest’s 65 acres of wild azaleas burst into pink flowers putting on a spectacular show. Over 30 miles of trails for hiking and biking wind through the forest allowing plenty of opportunities to explore. In the winter, bikes give way to snowmobiles and cross country skis. In Lanesborough, Balance Rock State Park showcases exactly what its name implies. Visitors can see the 30 foot long, 15 foot wide boulder, a remnant of the last ice age, perched precariously on top of a much smaller rock.

Pontoosuc Lake is an ideal home base for a Berkshires getaway. In addition to its natural beauty, the Berkshires are probably best known for their cultural opportunities. Long a favorite with artists and writers, the Berkshires are the summer home of the Boston Symphony, and concerts, dance performances and live theatre take place all summer long. Pontoosuc Lake and the Berkshires are an accessible destination, just two and a half hours from Boston and New York City. The cultural opportunities and natural beauty combine to make Pontoosuc Lake a fantastic spot for a western Massachusetts vacation.

Things to do at Pontoosuc Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • State Forest

Fish species found at Pontoosuc Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • White Perch
  • Yellow Perch

Pontoosuc Lake Photo Gallery

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Pontoosuc Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Massachusetts DCR

Surface Area: 480 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,082 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 35 feet

Drainage Area: 21 sq. miles

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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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