Stockbridge Bowl

Last Updated: 8/2016
      The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife releases catchable trout here each spring and fall, which dominate the sport fishery. Since competition with skiers, sailors, kayakers and speed boaters virtually precludes fishing here during the summer, it prevents the resident species from being harvested. In any case, bass and pickerel are not abundant and display poor growth rates, although many of the fish present are of legal size or better.
    Pan fishing should be encouraged here and is easily possible from a causeway at the inlet on the eastern shore. The black crappie (calicos) is probably the best panfish in terms of size, although they are far outnumbered by yellow perch, which on average are of relatively small size. Ice fishing for chain pickerel and yellow perch is popular.  (1998)

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    2 to 3 hours
Total Distance:       4.8 miles
USGS Map:    Stockbridge, MA (7.5’x15’)
Launch Address:  55 Interlaken Rd, Stockbridge, MA 01262    

Boat Launch:    Paved Boat Ramp for all types.
Position:    42-20.50 N  73-19.45 W  
Physical Features:
  • Area:                372 acres
  • Max depth:         48 feet
  • Average Depth:  27 feet
  • Transparency:   13 feet
  • Terrain Type: Wooded, Homes, Town Park
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1980
  • 6 species: chain pickerel, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, golden shiner and white sucker.
Put In and Take Out: (9.5 miles, 16 minutes)
  • From Route 90 (Mass Pike) exit 2:
  • At the end of the ramp turn right at light and then left at the next light on Route 102 West towards Stockbridge.
  • Follow Route 102 West through South Lee.
  • At mile 4.6, pass the Red Lion Inn in the center of Stockbridge, continue west on Route 102.
  • At mile 5.0, Route 102 West turns right towards West Stockbridge.
  • At mile 6.4, at flashing yellow light, turn right on Route 183 North.
  • At mile 9.4, pass Berkshire Country Day School, turn right into boat ramp.

     Stockbridge Bowl is a large lake in the northern part of the town of Stockbridge.  The upper part has a shape like a bowl and is probably how it got its current name though it is also known on maps as Lake Mahkeenac.  There are many summer houses surrounding the Bowl.  Many of these have been renovated in recent years.  It has been said that waterfront property on Cape Cod costs less than on Stockbridge Bowl.  As you travel around, you will find that some waterfront homes have boat docks.  These are excellent places to catch bass.  In the summer, there are white 6 mph buoys circling the bowl for the protection of swimmers, beaches, and non-motorized boats.
      Stockbridge Bowl is beautiful to view and travel on.  The surrounding mountains add greatly to the experience.
       To the northwest, there is a Saddle (lower section) between West Stockbridge Mountain and Lenox Mountain where the prevailing wind can come down on the bowl causing difficulty to paddle to the southeast.  If the wind comes up fast, try to return to the boat ramp on the west side where there is a lee.  On Lenox road, on the saddle, there is a lookout that gives great views of the lake.  Check it out if you have time.
      The Stockbridge Boat Ramp is owned and maintained by the town of Stockbridge.  There is a list of rules posted near the ramp and there is ample room for parking.  Motorboats, Sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and sculls are all launched here (no jet skis).    The town maintains two weed collecting boats near the launch.  This adds greatly to keeping clear many areas of the lake especially in late summer.  The boat ramp is the best and easiest launch point.
SOUTH: Mahkeenac Island
      At the south end of the main lake, a long slender island guards the entrance to the southern reaches of the lake.  Though camping is not allowed, it is a great place to stop for a break and explore the short trails.  The ends are always a good place to make a landing as well as several other locations. It’s a good place for a secluded picnic.
SOUTH: The passage and end cove
       Just south of the island are shallows that have many rocks.  I have observed large groups of turtles sunning themselves on a warm day.  There can be many water lily’s that make passage slow.  If you need a flower for you hair, this is the place to grab one.  The winding passage to the south is bordered by summer houses and at the very end is an outlet for the lake.  There are often large amounts of weeds but the center is very deep.   Local kids call it “The Cove” and have taken liberty to put up rope swings.
SOUTH EAST: Town Beach
      East of the island is the town beach.  Launching and recovering is prohibited during the summer swimming season.  With that said, many people pull their boats up to the sides of the swimming area.  Many scullers keep their boats on a rack on the north side of the beach as well.   Access and parking is right off of Mahkeenac Road.  There is a life guard on duty in the summer.  The grass, tall trees, picnic tables, grills, and playground all make this spot a great stop for lunch.  The building has bathrooms and a pay telephone (good for emergencies).
Traveling north along the east shore there are numerous summer homes leading to a causeway.
NORTH EAST:  Camp Mah-Kee-Nac
      This private summer camp has numerous summer buildings and a beach.  In the summer there are boats and a floating dock next to the beach.
NORTH: Tanglewood Beach:
     The North shore is bordered by property owned by Tanglewood.  There is a small beach with a small beach house there.  Access is restricted to BSO employees only.
NORTH:  Stockbridge Conservation Land
      Located at the furthest north part of the lake is a town conservation land that has several trails.  The waters, just off shore, are filled with lily pads and weeds.  Going can be slow through the weeds but careful paddlers may observe fish, frogs, and turtles. Landing, picnicking, and swimming are allowed.
State Pond Map
4th of July and Tanglewood
         A favorite with locals is to watch the fireworks at Tanglewood from the boat ramp and town beach.  My favorite is to put in my canoe and spending time with the boat crowd out on the lake.  Bring a flashlight so motorboats can see you.

For more information visit the website:
Josh Billings Race
         This September race starts in Great Barrington with a 27-mile bicycle.  The wrist band for each team is passed to canoeists at the boat ramp where they paddle twice around the lake and hand off to a runner at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac beach.  The runner goes 10 kilometers to the entrance of Tanglewood where a huge crowd gathers with food and music.  A little know secret is that the Town Beach is the only easy access spot where all three events can be watched.

For more information visit the website:
Josh Billings
Camp Mah-Kee-Nac
         Camp Mah-Kee-Nac is located in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts on three mile long Stockbridge Bowl (aka Lake Mahkeenac). Camp Mah-Kee-Nac for boys enjoys an unparalleled reputation as the most complete camp experience around. Founded in 1929, it is among the finest traditional boys summer camps in the United States.
           Our campers participate in a variety of activities that features team and individual sports, lake and pool activities, outdoor adventure, and arts & creativity featuring our popular woodshop. Our 7-week program with shorter session options combines the traditions of New England summer camping with the best sports and activities instruction and exceptional facilities.

For more information visit the website:
Camp Mah-Kee-Nac
State Boat Ramp
Town Beach