Located less than 30 miles from Hartford, Lake McDonough is one of Connecticut’s gems.  Lake McDonough is a scenic, unspoiled public recreation area that offers numerous ways to enjoy the beauty of New England. The Lake McDonough recreation area is located on the west side of Route 219 in Barkhamsted, Connecticut, just over three miles northeast of the Route 44 intersection in New Hartford Center.


Season Passes for boating at Lake McDonough can now be purchased online at: https://mdcrecreational.square.site/
You must also complete an online Registration Form when you purchase a season pass at: https://mdcrecreational.square.site/forms-and-agreements
After purchasing season passes online, they can be picked up when you arrive at Lake McDonough

Please note that single day passes must still be purchased on site at Lake McDonough. You can fill out a PDF form ahead of time and bring it with you or obtain one on site when you arrive.
Boating Registration Form and Agreement for 2023 (PDF)


Fishing by boat is typically allowed from the second Saturday in April through Labor Day. Fishing from shore is also permitted. Shore fishing is allowed from sunrise to 9:00PM.

Each spring Lake McDonough is stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout. A wheelchair accessible fishing pier is located at the south end of Lake McDonough on Route 219, approximately two miles from the intersection of Route 44 in New Hartford Center.


Private boat, canoe and kayak launching is also allowed. Motor boat speed is limited to 10 miles per hour. There are no rental boats.
Boating Season Pass Online Purchase and Registration Site
Boating Registration Form and Agreement for 2023 (PDF)

2023 Boat Launch Hours:
Saturday, April 8: 6AM – 8PM (OPENING DAY)
Sunday, April 9: 10AM-8PM
Weekends only for remainder of April: 10:00AM – 8PM
Daily: 10AM – 8PM (May 1 – September 4)
Please check banner at the top of the MDC website and MDC Facebook or Twitter for weather-related closings and openings of Lake McDonough.


  • A registration form must be filled out
  • Boats must be out of the water by 7:30PM (half an hour before sunset)
  • Everyone must have a life jacket. Children under 13 are required to wear them at all times while in boats.
  • Inflatable rowboats are not permitted unless they are Coast Guard approved with oarlocks.
    Prohibited activities:
  • Swimming in the reservoir or wading in the reservoir
  • Exiting the boat at any point on the shoreline other than the boat launch area
  • Littering
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fishing in restricted areas
  • Fires
  • Camping
  • Removal of vegetation, animals, or minerals
  • Vendors
  • Carrying or discharge of firearms or dangerous weapons
  • Operation of drones.
  • No jet skis, sail boarding or stand up paddle boarding is allowed.
  • No fishing off the docks.



In 2021, the MDC adopted a new fee schedule for boat launches.  Note: all fees include parking.

The cost of a one-day pass is $20 per boat for residents and $40 for non-residents.

There is also an option for a season pass which is $60 for residents and $120 for non-residents. 

Residents are defined as someone who is a resident of the MDC’s Member Towns, Non-Member Towns or Watershed Towns: Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor, East Granby, Farmington, Glastonbury, South Windsor, Barkhamsted, Colebrook, Hartland and New Hartford.


The Lake McDonough Beach and Swimming Recreation Area remains closed for 2022. No decision has been made yet for 2023.