West Hill Lake, Connecticut, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Connecticut - Litchfield Hills -

Also known as:  West Hill Pond

West Hill Lake, in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills Region, is the quintessential New England lake. Perhaps more commonly called West Hill Pond, West Hill Lake has stood sentinel over centuries of change in the Connecticut hills. These Connecticut woods and waterways were the home of the Pequot for likely a thousand years before the arrival of European settlers. Artifacts are quite often found in the area around West Hill Pond, and an entire chestnut log canoe was found at the bottom of West Hill Lake by divers in 1989. Carved from a single log, the canoe is considered to be between 350 and 500 years old; it is now preserved at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. The European settlers arrived here early in the 17th century, and by 1635 a smallpox epidemic had killed nearly 80% of the tribe. The Pequot were known to be fierce defenders of their territory, but were soon overwhelmed by sheer numbers; the rocky hills and sparkling streams became the property of the white newcomers.

West Hill Lake is one of the most pristine lakes in Connecticut. The 261-acre natural lake was dammed at the outlet to Morgan Brook at some time in the past, likely to operate a mill. The dam was rebuilt in the 1970s, keeping the water level about five feet higher than it was historically. In winter, the water level is lowered by three feet to minimize ice damage and allow for dam inspections and repairs. One of the deepest natural ponds in western Connecticut, the springs feeding the lake are cold and produce a fine cold-water fishery. Besides the trout found in the lake, kokanee salmon were planted several years ago and now reproduce well enough that salmon are regularly removed to the Burlington State Trout Hatchery for spawning. The salmon are then used to stock other lakes. Divers often use the small island near the south-west shore for diving and warn novices that the water is extremely cold below 15 feet. The shoreline is moderately developed for summer cottages and year-round homes, but the wooded shoreline still gives an air of peace and solitude. A Boy Scout Camp has occupied a portion of the shore since the 1920s. In fact, the local Boy Scout Council is listed as the owner of the dam. In the past, several small businesses dotted the shoreline but most have moved on to busier highways. Now, the closest supplies are found near New Hartford Center, Torrington, Winsted or Barkhamsted, all within ten miles.

Sailing, pontooning, canoeing and kayaking are favorites on West Hill Pond. Motors are limited to 8 horsepower from Memorial Day through September 15th. Speed limits of 15 miles per hour daytime and 6 miles per hour nighttime apply year round. Brodie Park on the southwest corner of the lake provides public boat launch facilities and rental space for small boats or canoes. There is a fishing pier and swim area with sand beach. Brodie Park also has two clay tennis courts and a four-hoop basketball court and playground. A skate park is in the planning stages. An additional 150 acres across the road provides trails for hiking and horseback riding. A conservation trail leads into an adjacent cedar swamp.

Fishermen enjoy the quiet waters while fishing for brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, pickerel, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and sunfish. Ice fishing is just as popular at West Hill Lake as lazy summer casting is. In fact, West Hill Pond is considered one of the better ice fishing lakes in western Connecticut. Paddling the shoreline to enjoy nature is likely as popular as fishing. The heavily-treed shoreline holds a wealth of birds and small mammals. The occasional deer slips down to the water to drink. Exceptionally clear water allows paddlers to spot schools of fish as they silently glide beneath the boats. At night, visitors can watch the sun go down over the Berkshire foothills, warming toes at lakeside campfires in the chilly evening air. What better place to spend the day, either for vacation or for keeps?

Off-water, there are loads of nearby activities to entertain visitors.
American Legion State Forest and Peoples State Forest are within 10 miles of West Hill Lake and are supplied with hiking trails, fishing and camping opportunities. In winter, both have cross-country ski trails. A downhill ski area is located within the same 10-mile circle as are wineries, the Canton Historical Museum at Collinsville and many, many historical markers and pieces of early American history. For a change of pace, the Farmington Valley Arts Center at Avon is less than 15 miles away with art galleries and studios, art lessons and events to support the arts. For nightlife, specialty shopping and an eclectic blend of restaurants, the city of Hartford is only 25 miles from West Hill Pond.

Vacation rentals are a way of life at West Hill Lake. Some rentals have been available continuously for many years. Small resort cabins share the market with luxury up-scale homes. A vacation rental can usually be found to fit any budget, as long as reservations are made well in advance. The nearby Connecticut hills are famous for rustic inns and bed-and-breakfasts. Real estate is often available along the lakeshore or within a couple of miles of the lake. All it will take is one weekend or one summer vacation to decide that West Hill Lake is what you’ve been looking for. Bring your canoe and paddle the shoreline as did the ancient Pequot. You’ll find the fish aren’t the only ones who are hooked!

Things to do at West Hill Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at West Hill Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

West Hill Lake Photo Gallery

West Hill Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Connecticut River Council, BSA

Surface Area: 261 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 935 feet

Average Depth: 34 feet

Maximum Depth: 63 feet

Water Volume: 2,525 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 1 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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