Colebrook River Lake

Sandisfield, Massachusetts

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What do you get when a feisty river meets a dam large enough to make the ancient Egyptian pyramid-builders proud? You get Colebrook River Lake, a very long, very deep, very big lake. Beginning in Massachusetts in the shadow of the Berkshire Plateau, the lake extends more than four miles to the dam in Colebrook, Connecticut. This impressive instream impoundment fills the picturesque Farmington River valley with hundreds of acres of sparkling water enjoyed by paddlers, fishermen, and modest numbers of powerboaters. The steep wooded hills that overlook the lake are even home to the first pair of bald eagles to nest in Berkshire County in 100 years. Though its shores are forested and streams cascade from the surrounding hills into the lake, Colebrook Lake isn’t a wilderness experience. The water level is manipulated seasonally, so animals such as beaver are absent. The water in spring can be so high as to drown shoreline forests, and in fall are so low that portions of the lakebed normally underwater are quarried for gravel and stone. The one sure thing about Colebrook Lake is that it is constantly changing. Colebrook River Lake is at an elevation of about 700 feet and bounded by a series of tall hills, the highest of which is Bull Mountain on the northwest shore, which rises to more than 1,500 feet.
Water Trails of Western Massachusetts

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Water Trails of Western Massachusetts

by Charles W. G. Smith (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)

What do you get when a feisty river meets a dam large enough to make the ancient Egyptian pyramid-builders proud? You get Colebrook River Lake, a very long, very deep, very big lake. Beginning in Massachusetts in the shadow of the Berkshire Plateau, the lake extends more than four miles to the dam in Colebrook, Connecticut. This impressive instream impoundment fills the picturesque Farmington River valley with hundreds of acres of sparkling water enjoyed by paddlers, fishermen, and modest numbers of powerboaters. The steep wooded hills that overlook the lake are even home to the first pair of bald eagles to nest in Berkshire County in 100 years. Though its shores are forested and streams cascade from the surrounding hills into the lake, Colebrook Lake isn’t a wilderness experience. The water level is manipulated seasonally, so animals such as beaver are absent. The water in spring can be so high as to drown shoreline forests, and in fall are so low that portions of the lakebed normally underwater are quarried for gravel and stone. The one sure thing about Colebrook Lake is that it is constantly changing. Colebrook River Lake is at an elevation of about 700 feet and bounded by a series of tall hills, the highest of which is Bull Mountain on the northwest shore, which rises to more than 1,500 feet.

©  Charles W. G. Smith/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Sandisfield
Distance: 9.6
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: Day use
Class: Class I
Season: Best spring through fall
Driving Directions: Directions to Colebrook River Lake

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Apr 2018