York Lake

Last Updated: 9/2018
            There is no State information published on fishing.  One website said it is stocked three times each year with trout.  I cannot confirm this.
      York Lake is a shallow 35-acre man-made lake at a surface elevation of 1544 feet.  Sandy Brook, a tributary of the Farmington and Connecticut Rivers, feeds the lake.  This water eventually flows a distance of 115 miles where it empties into Long Island Sound.  It was named for Samuel A. York, a gentleman farmer of Cummington, who served as Commissioner of the Department of Conservation from 1933 to 1935.
      Unload your boat at the boat launch and park in the parking lot.  There are public bathrooms, over 20 picnic tables, and a well kept beach area.
      This very short paddle should be combined with swimming, fishing, hiking, and picnicking.  If you are looking to paddle for half a day then this is not the place for you.
The southern part is made up of beach, earthen dam with spillway, and some woods.  The northern part is primarily wetlands and forest.
York Lake Loop Trail
      The loop trail encircles the lake through woods and wetlands.  Bring bug repellant on this heart healthy rated walk.  The trail is 2.2 miles long and easy for the average hiker ability.  Footing is uneven and wet in places.  Plan about 1 hour 15 minutes to complete it.  The trail is marked with blue blazes.  At the north end of the loop the trail follows an unpaved state forest road briefly.
      The trail ends back on York Pond Road (aka Forest Road), return to the day-use area and parking lot via the road and dam.
      The walk is mostly in shaded woods with occasional glimpses of the lake.  Wildlife mammals you commonly see include Northern Water Snake (non-venomous), otter, mink, beaver, or belted kingfisher.
      Some of the plants you encounter are partridge berry, low and high-bush blueberry, trillium, star flower, bunchberry, hay-scented fern, Christmas fern, club mosses, Indian pipe and hobblebush vibernum.  Forming the forest canopy there are cool dark woods of eastern hemlock, magnificent white pines, northern hardwoods of beech and birch trees, and remnants of Norway spruce and Scotch pine plantations.

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    1 hour
Total Distance:       1.1 miles
USGS Map: South Sandisfield, MA (7.5’x15’)
Launch Address:     Forest Road, New Marlboro, MA 01230 

Boat Launch: Car top launch near beach.
Position:     42-05.74 N 73-10.84 W
Physical Features:
  • Area:                29 acres
  • Max depth:       16 feet
  • Average Depth:  6 feet
  • Transparency:    4 feet
  • Terrain Type: Wooded, State Park
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1979
  • 5 species present in this lake: largemouth bass,
    brook trout, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead and golden shiner. The trout were the result of the annual spring stocking. This lake was reclaimed in 1957 when the dam went out.     
Put In and Take Out: (23.3 miles, about 43 minutes)
  • From Interstate 90, Massachusetts Turnpike Exit 2 Lee, MA
  • At the end of the ramp, turn left at light and pass under highway.
  • Turn immediately right on Route 102 West and follow to Stockbridge.
  • At mile 4.7, turn left on Route 7 South.  The Red Lion Inn is on the corner.
  • At stoplight, mile 10.9, turn left on Route 23 East/183 South.
  • Pass Butternut Ski Area and continue.
  • At mile 14.3, turn right on to Route 57 East, Route 183 South toward New Marlboro.
  • At mile 15.0 the road becomes Mill River Great Barrington Road.
  • At mile 17.7 County Road enters on your left, make a slight left to continue on Mill River Great Barrington Road.
  • At mile 20.0, at the town green in New Marlboro, where Route 57 goes left, continue on Route 183 South.
  • Pass Idle Hour Road on left.
  • At mile 23, turn left on Forest Road, at York Lake, Sandisfield State Forest Sign.
  • Go 0.3 mile over earthen dam.  Boat ramp is on left.
Sandisfield State Forest

      Before 1935 York Lake did not exist.  It is man-made.  It was created out of a swampy wetland, built as part of the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a U.S. Federal Government conservation program.  The CCC improved the nation’s natural and human resources and created opportunities for the public to recreate and appreciate a healthy outdoor experience.
      From 1933 to 1937 the 196 Company CCC, who’s nearby campsite off Route 183 just south of the lake, supplied 200 men a season to work in the state forest.  Formerly unemployed men earned a dollar-a-day, were provided food, clothing, shelter and an opportunity for self-improvement.  The CCC program was a popular success throughout the Great Depression.
      CCC projects focused on improving hardwood growth, planting acres of pine and spruce, eliminating gypsy moths pests and white pine blister rust disease, removing fire hazards and fighting forest fires, building forest access roads and creating wildlife refuges.  They also created places for public recreation like York Lake, the swimming and picnic area, the foot trail, and former campsites.
      The 196 Company built so many dams in nearby state forests they acquired the name The Sandisfield Beavers.  After its completion York Lake became an extremely popular recreation destination for tourists and local residents.
       Latter the dam barely survived the heavy rains of the Great Hurricane of 1938 and required some repair.  But it was the Hurricane Diane in 1955 that completely washed out the dam, closing the recreation facility until it was rebuilt in 1959 and continues as built today.
(From DCR Massachusetts – York Lake Loop Trail pamphlet)

          Learn more about this state forest by clicking below:
Sandisfield State Forest
State Pond Map
Boat Ramp
Beach and Restrooms
York Lake
Picnic Area