Lake Wyola is a reservoir on the Ipswich River in the town of Hamilton, Massachusetts. The lake extends into the neighboring towns of Andover and North Reading with a total water capacity of 47 acres (19ha). It was created when the Coddington Dam was built across the river in 1837. In addition to fishing and boating, the park’s forested shoreline provides an excellent habitat for wildlife including deer, moose, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and black bears. A large brown bear roams the park at will, but there have been no recent sightings of mountain lions or wolves.
The park offers swimming beach, picnicking facilities, playground, campground, boat launch, and trails. The park has long been used for orienteering competitions. Lake Wyola is one of several major landmarks in the fictional world of author Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novel Twilight, which takes place in the same universe as the film series of the same name. The book describes the lake as “a beautiful pond that seemed almost too perfect”, and it serves as the main setting for the second half of the story, where the action shifts between Edward Cullen and his family living in nearby Andover, and Bella Swan and her friends visiting them in Newton. The park also features prominently in the video game adaptation.
Lake Wyola is crossed by the Bay Circuit Trail, which forms part of the Bay Circuit Route connecting Boston and New York City. This section of the trail runs along the Ipswich River from Hamilton to Killingworth, Connecticut, before continuing west through Brookfield, then bending north through Wenham, home of the University of Vermont’s Environmental Center. The park lies adjacent to the Ipswich River Reservation, managed by UVM’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. Lake Wyola averages about 30 feet (9.1m) deep, 60 feet (18m) wide, and stretches 7 miles (11km) upstream to Coddington Falls, 3 miles (4.8km) northwest of the park. Its watershed drains into the Ipswich via 11 tributaries, 9 of which flow directly into the lake itself. The lake’s outflow enters the Ipswich River just downstream of Highway 487.
Lake Wyola can be accessed via two separate parking lots, each providing access to different parts of the lake. One lot is near the dam, while the other is farther upriver, closer to Hingham. Fishing is possible year round, though ice fishing is not recommended due to the risk of frostbite. Common game fish include bass, crappie, perch, pike, trout, and yellow perch. There are three public boat launches, located at the dam, Camp Hero, and Bellamy Road. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and pedal boats are available to rent all summer. Boats may be launched only when the weather permit, however, so the gate remains closed November through mid-May. Boat rentals must be returned by 5pm. No refunds are given if the boat is damaged beyond repair. Bikes are permitted on the paved road around the lake except during hunting season, and bikes are prohibited on certain portions of the bike path.
The park has four picnic areas, including one at the dam. Other areas are accessible via roads leading away from the park. These roads provide access to the bike path, which parallels the Ipswich River for 12 miles (19km), passing by Hingham, Norwell, and Scituate en route to its western terminus in Blackstone. The park includes a campground with 140 sites, 40 of which have electrical hookups. Modern restrooms and showers are provided, and hot water is available year round. Camping costs $20 per night per vehicle, and reservations are required. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system, or over phone. Half of the campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. The campground opens daily May 15 and closes October December 31. Campsites without electric power are open to non-powered camping such as tents, travel trailers, and RVs. They do not allow horses or bicycles. Back country tenting is allowed in some areas of the park, and equestrian camping is allowed in others. Horses and mules are common sights throughout the park.
The park has eight marked hiking trails, ranging from .5 miles (.80km) to 4.0 miles (6.4km). All trails pass through wooded terrain, and five go east into the heart of the Blue Hills region of Massachusetts, dropping off the Ipswich Bike Path onto the Topsfield/Andover Rd. corridor. The park has a network of 20 miles (32km) of footpaths, 10 miles (16km) of which run south from the park office to the Ipswich River. Dogsledding is very popular, and many dogsled teams operate within the park. Sledding is not permitted on the bike path or any portion of the park grounds. Hunting is permitted on about 1,000 acres (400 ha) of Lake Wyola State Park.
Hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Game. The hunting of groundhogs is prohibited. Lake Wyola is a designated “big bass” area, meaning anglers may keep a bass they catch, whether they win the tournament or not. Bass below 16 inches (41cm) in length cannot be kept, since they fall outside of the state’s minimum size limit for freshwater fishing. Tournament-sized bass are regularly caught, with record sizes occasionally reaching 20 pounds (9kg). Lake Wyola is a destination for professional crappie fishermen hoping to cash in on the largemouth bass boom taking place throughout New England.
Crappies are native to this area, having undergone significant population growth following the reintroduction of the sport fishery in the 1970s. Anglers target crappies using artificial lures, and bait & tackle shops are abundant throughout the park. The park has a canoe rental service in the summer. Canoes may be reserved for morning use only, and space is limited. Only persons 13 years or older may reserve a canoe; children under age 13 may accompany their adult supervisors.
Reservations are not accepted after September 15. Hours vary depending on the time of year, but generally canoes are available to use every day until late June, early July, and sometimes well into August. After that date, availability is dependent upon the weather. If the weather is bad, the land bordering the lake may be covered in snow, and the lake may become unsafe for recreational uses. Because of the shallow waters surrounding much of the lake, swimmers should be cautious. Lifeguards are stationed at the park from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, but are not present during the off-season months of October through April. When lifeguards are present, there is always at least one patrol boat cruising the perimeter of the lake. Another way to protect yourself against sunburn and other hazards is to wear protective clothing. Umbrellas, rain jackets, hats, and sunscreen are commonly seen.
An official website maintained by DCR staff gives detailed information on the history and ecology of the park, as well as practical advice on how to enjoy the park safely. To help fund a backlog of deferred maintenance and park improvements, the Commonwealth enacted an entrance fee for this park. The fees, charged per vehicle, start at $10 per day for a single-day or $8 for residents with an active MassCards or Passports registration. Fees are waived for honorably discharged veterans
Other activities include:
- cross-country skiing
- horseback riding
- dog sledding
The common game species are:
- ruffed grouse
- white-tailed deer
- eastern gray squirrels
- wild turkey
- black bears