Forest Lake

Last Updated: 3/2018
          Forest Lake receives trout during both the spring and fall stocking seasons. The majority of trout are rainbows nine inches or better; the rest are brown trout. Heaviest pressure on trout is from late April to late May. Largemouth bass here display average growth rates, but the population is over harvested, and quality fish over 12 inches are scant. Chain pickerel growth rates appear slow. Yellow perch fishing should be good, as 60% of the sample was eight inches and better. The lake also has a good population of brown bullheads 10 inches and better. (1993)
      The bottom consists of gravel and mud. There are 1.5 miles of shoreline, roughly 30% of which is developed. Emergent aquatic vegetation covers 15% of the surface area.
      Access is an informal gravel launch area located off Bennett Street, over the area, which also serves as a beach. Limited boat trailer parking is available. At present there is a horsepower restriction. Check with local authorities. 

           Available historical information about the uses of Forest Lake dates back to the early 1600's. According to a local historian, Nipmuc Indians encamped near the lake during the warm summer months for fishing in the Ware River. The Hampden County Registry of Deeds indicates erection of a grist mill and saw mill in the 1700's.
         Forest Lake became accessible in the 1800's via construction of the nearby Boston and Albany Railroad from Springfield.  Forest Lake was known by several names during this period namely South Pattaquattic Pond, Newell's Pond and Forest Lake Gardens.  The Lake was used for winter pickerel fishing and, in the summer months, perch and horned pout (brown bullhead) fishing. The only other recreational use reported during the early and mid-1800 's was occasional summer camping.
        In the late 1800's, some of the local land-owners formed the Forest Lake Company and created a resort on the northwesterly shore of the Lake. The resort, which catered principally to picnics and family gatherings, was first opened to the public in 1885 as Forest Lake Park and became one of the most popular resorts in the area, warranting the construction of a playhouse and stables. A pavilion, including a roller skating arena, ballroom and bowling alleys, and an amusement park, offering a merry-go-round, picnic area and slides, was also constructed. The pavilion has remained and is presently known as the Forest Lake Resort.
         Swimming in Forest Lake increased and became the primary summer use of the Lake during the 1900's. Fishing has continued to be popular over the years; and, in recent years, motorboating on the Lake has also become a major use.
           Reports dating back to 1901 describe the already existing problem of aquatic weed growth with photographs showing extensive water lily growth. The Town Deputy observed annual fish kills, as explained at that time, due to limited dissolved oxygen in the water. Over-fishing was also noted to be a major problem. To alleviate the over-fishing, the State began to overstock the Lake and even closed it to winter fishing in 1904 for three years. (Taken from the Dec 1981 FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR REHABILITATION OF FOREST LAKE, PALMER, MA)
Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    1 hour
Total Distance       1.5 miles
USGS Map: Palmer, MA (7.5’x15’)
Launch Address:   702 River Street, Palmer, MA 01069

Position: 42-12.60 N 72-18.45 W    
Boat Launch:  Launch near beach and park across the street.
Physical Features:
  • Area:                  43 acres
  • Max depth:         26 feet
  • Average Depth:  10 feet
  • Transparency:    10 feet
  • Terrain Type: Wooded, State Park
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1979
  • 15 species. Gamefish included largemouth bass, chain pickerel, rainbow trout and brown trout. Nongame species are yellow perch,  white perch, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, red breasted sunfish, golden shiners, killifish, brown bullhead, yellow bullhead, and American eel.     
Put In and Take Out: 3.4 miles, 6 min.
  • From Exit 8 US Route 90 (Mass. Turnpike)
  • At the end of the ramp turn left on Thorndike Street Route 32 North.
  • At mile 1.5, turn slight left onto Stimson Street.
  • At mile 2.7, at the end, turn left then immediately right on River Street.
  • At mile 3.4 arrive at beach/put-in

State Pond Map
Boat Ramp next to Beach
View of Forest Lake looking South from the beach
Russo's Lakeside Restaurant across from beach