The seventh smallest state in the USA, Massachusetts is located in New England in the northeast region of the country. It is a beautiful state that is made up of coastal plains, hills, mountains and urban centres.
Massachusetts is known as ‘The Bay State’ due to its large number of bays along its coastline. There are also numerous bodies of water in Massachusetts, some of which run into the Charles River, Connecticut River or into the Atlantic Ocean. Some are also freestanding lakes and reservoirs. Here is a list of the 15 Best Lakes in Massachusetts.
1. Lake Cochituate
Part of the Cochituate State Park, Lake Cochituate is a lake that consists of three ponds that are linked together, The lake used to be used as a reservoir for Boston, but today it is used for recreational activities.
Lake Cochituate is particularly popular in the summer when families come to enjoy boating, swimming, sailing and fishing. The surrounding park also has great walking trails, while the shoreline is dotted with picnic areas and barbeques.
The lake sits in the towns of Natick, Wayland, and Framingham just west of Boston. It is easily accessible from all directions along the I-90.
2. Onota Lake
The 2.5 square kilometre Onota Lake is known for its summer mansions that were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a picturesque lake that has been a long time summer destination for many.
Onota Lake a popular spot for swimming, sailing, water skiing and fishing. It is also home to Burbank Park, which is open year round and boasts a free boat launch, picnic areas, a walking path and a beach.
The lake sits in the city of Pittsfield, who also runs and owns it. It is divided into two basins, flowing into the western part of the Housatonic River.
3. Lake Wyola
Lake Wyola is a small lake that sits in the Massachusetts town of Shutesbury. The lake was constructed in 1883 during the damming of the Sawmill River, but today it is a popular recreational lake.
The Lake Wyola State Park sits along the shores of the lake, boasting a boat ramp, picnicking, grilling and hiking trails. The lake itself is a popular spot for canoeing, sailing, fishing and swimming. Snowmobiling and cross country skiing are enjoyed in the park in the winter months.
Wyola is a Native American word that means ‘quiet waters’, which is exactly what it is. The lake is a great place to enjoy a day any time of the year.
4. Lake Chaubunagungamaug
Lake Chaubunagungamaug is located in the town of Webster, which gives it its nickname; Webster Lake. It is a 584 hectare lake that boasts a 27 kilometre shoreline.
The name of the lake comes from the Nipmuc language that means ‘lake divided by islands’. It is home to eight islands, some of which only have one house on it.
Lake Chaubunagungamaug is home to two marinas, making it a popular spot for boaters. It is also a tourist destination, with its surrounding area being a great place to spot wildlife, particularly when hiking along its surrounding Walkabout Trail.
5. Quabbin Reservoir
One of the country’s largest man-made water supplies, Quabbin Reservoir is a stunning lake that flows to the Wachusett Reservoir. It is a major water supply for Boston, as well as being used for recreational purposes.
Quabbin Reservoir is nearly 100 square kilometres, boasting a shoreline of just under 190 kilometres. It is a popular spot for hiking and cycling (swimming not allowed). There are also some magnificent views over the lake from the towns of New Salem and Enfield.
The reservoir dates back to the 1930s as a way to bring water from Lake Cochituate to the city of Boston. Four towns were relocated when the reservoir was built, as was a state highway and a railroad line.
6. Lake Quinsigamond
Lake Quinsigamond is located within the Quinsigamond State Park close to the city of Worcester. The three square kilometre lake is home to eight islands, only one of which is state owned (Drake Island).
The lake is famous for its rowing, with competitions taking place regularly throughout the season. Swimming, sailing and fishing are also enjoyed by those visiting the lake.
The Quinsigamond State Park sits along the western edge of the lake, which is where most of the recreational activities are offered. There are picnic areas, restrooms and shower facilities, as well as plenty of parking spaces.
7. Lake Ashmere
Lake Ashmere is a small, state owned lake that sits in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The lake is cut in half by Route 143, which also provides access to the lake.
Lake Ashmere is a recreational lake that is home to three summer camps, numerous homes and vacation rentals. It is a picturesque lake that is surrounded by rural countryside.
Fishing is a popular activity due to the lake’s warm water. Chain pickerel, black crappie, yellow perch and brown bullhead are just some of the fish species that swim in the lake. Kayaking, canoeing and water skiing are other activities often enjoyed in Lake Ashmere.
8. Lake Crystal
Previously known as Baptist Lake, Lake Crystal used to be used for Baptisms by the Newton Center Baptist Church. Its name was changed to Crystal Lake in the 19th century due to its commercial ice harvesting.
Today, the shoreline of Lake Crystal is lined with homes and small parks. It is a popular swimming spot, offering swimming lessons and lifeguard training courses.
Lake Crystal sits in the city of Newton in the eastern part of the state. It is a natural lake that features quite a serene atmosphere.
9. Otis Reservoir
Sitting in Otis, Massachusetts, Otis Reservoir is a four square kilometre reservoir that was formed by the flooding of three nearby ponds. In the past, it was used for water storage, but today it is a popular recreation spot.
Swimming, boating, water skiing and sailing are enjoyed in the water, as is fishing. The reservoir is stocked by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife with a variety of fish species.
Otis Reservoir is surrounded by cottages owned by middle-class people from New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Tolland State Forest is also at the edge of the lake, which provides camping and hiking.
10. Lake Attitash
Lake Attitash is a popular summer destination for tourists and residents of Essex County, Massachusetts and other areas of the state. It is a beautiful lake that is home to two great beaches, as well as being lined with cottages and boat docks.
The lake is one of the best places in the state for fishing, which can be enjoyed year round. Boating, swimming and other water activities are also enjoyed throughout the summer months.
The Massachusetts Office of Fishing and Boating Access built ramps and a car park on the shore of the lake for visitors. There is also a boy’s summer camp along the shores of the 150 hectare lake.
Lake Monomonac was created by the damming of the North Branch of the Millers River. It is an artificial lake that sits between the Massachusetts town of Winchendon and the New Hampshire town of Rindge.
The 240 hectare lake is a warm water fishery, home to numerous species like chain pickerel, bass, black crappie and bluegill, amongst others. It is also a great place for canoeing.
Lake Monomonac sits just over 318 metres above sea level, having an average depth of three metres. Most of the lake sits in the neighbouring state of New Hampshire, though residents of both states enjoy spending time at the lake.
12. Lake Boon
Sitting in eastern Massachusetts, Lake Boon is a 66 hectare lake that has a depth of around seven metres. The lake was named after explorer Matthew Boon, who hails from Charlestown, Massachusetts.
There are four basins in the lake, all of which are important parts of the Stow and Hudson communities. It has been a popular vacation spot for centuries, with many Bostonians escaping here in the summer months.
Beaches, picnic tables and grills sit along the shoreline, attracting plenty of families. There are also summer camps for kids and a place that offers swimming lessons.
13. Lake Massapoag
Meaning ‘large water’ in Algonquin, Lake Massapoag is a serene lake that is surrounded by trees and colourful natural scenery. It is a natural, spring fed lake that sits in the town of Sharon in eastern Massachusetts.
Lake Massapoag dates back to the 18th century when it was used in the ice industry. Today, it is a recreational lake that is extremely popular in the summer, being home to resorts, hotels and cottages.
The lake is a popular spot for sailing and sail boarding. It also boasts a large beach. It is occupied year round, although recreational activities are limited to the summer months.
14. Lake Quannapowitt
Lake Quannapowitt is one of the most popular lakes in the Greater Boston area, with its surroundings being a great place for walking, cycling, in-line skating and jogging. It is also the site of a number of marathons that range from five kilometres to Ultra Marathons.
Originally known as Reading Pond, Lake Quannapowitt is an icon of the town of Wakefield, in which it is located. Unfortunately the lake itself can’t be entered, but the shoreline is spectacular.
Lake Quannapowitt is a peaceful spot to relax and breathe in the fresh air. The warm water within the lake is home to numerous fish species, though contamination means it is not possible to fish here.
15. Walden Pond
Walden Pond is a lake that formed over 10,000 years ago by retreating glaciers. It is a protected lake that is part of the Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, Massachusetts.
Philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the 25 hectare lake and there are many legends linked to this, with it being mentioned a number of times in his novel ‘The Ponds’. The lake also became the namesake for the film company Walden Media.
Walden Pond is a popular place for swimming, boating, fishing and picnicking. The surrounding park is great for hiking, camping and hunting.