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He unloads the station wagon carrying carefully packed boxes to his wife in the house. The kids are already next door reacquainting themselves with the friends they made last summer. Everyone is a little tentative and shy at first, but it will only take a few hours before they are back to being fast friends playing on the beach or in the water of Lake Hayward. They've been bringing the kids to the lake every summer to enjoy the clean, clear water of the lake and all the amenities that come with POA membership for their lakefront house. Lake Hayward in the River Valley region of Connecticut is a fantastic destination for the whole family.
Lake Hayward is a natural spring fed lake in the central district near East Haddam. Its outflow is through Eight Mile River. Originally called Long Pond by the Indians that lived on its shore, the name was eventually changed to Shaw's Pond. European settlers came to the lake in 1704 and built several mills at the outlet of the lake. In `1790 Thomas Shaw bought the grist mill, and the lake became known as Shaw's Pond. The lake's dam was rebuilt in 1854 and again in 1877 raising the lake to its current level.
In 1924 Nathaniel Hayward partnered with Mr. Goodyear of Goodyear Rubber in a rubber mill on the shore of the Lake Hayward. Together they came up with a way to vulcanize rubber and may even have made the first basketball shoes, ahead of Converse. Mr. Hayward established a hunting lodge on the lake, and after his death the lake was named for him.
Mr. Hayward's lodge may have been one of the first attempts to establish Lake Hayward as a recreation destination, but it certainly wasn't the last. In the 1930's a development company started Lake Hayward Days. Visitors and residents competed in swimming races, watermelon fights and a decorated boat contest. Lake Hayward Days continues today, and Lake Hayward has firmly established itself as a seasonal recreation community.
The eastern shore of Lake Hayward has private residential development almost all on the waterfront or with lake access. A dirt road designated as a scenic route runs along the eastern shore with room for hiking and biking. Public access to the lake is from a state owned boat launch and is restricted to the launch area only.
Residences on the western shore of Lake Hayward are all part of the Property Owners Associations of Lake Hayward (POALH). There are sand beaches for POA members along with amenities that include a boat ramp, pavilion and tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. Most of the residences on both shores of the lake are seasonal, but there are some year round waterfront homes as well. Property on the lake is sought after so there are few vacation rentals available, but there is some real estate for sale.
Lake Hayward is very clean and no gas powered boats are allowed on the lake. With almost 190 acres of water there is plenty of water to swim, kayak, canoe, paddle boat and sail. In the winter there is also ice skating and ice fishing. The lake is a mile and a half long, half a mile wide and a fantastic place to fish. Every year the lake is stocked in the spring with brown trout and rainbow trout.
Slightly south of Lake Hayward, Devil's Hopyard State Park is 860 acres including interesting rock formations and trails for hiking and biking. The park also includes Chapman Falls with a 60 foot waterfall. Round holes in the stone of the falls may be the "Devil's Footprints" that gave the park its name; no one knows for sure. What is certain, however, is that the park, established in 1919, is one of the best places to bird watch in the state. It is also an exceptional day trip from Lake Hayward.
Gillette Castle State Park is also a great day trip from the lake. The medieval stone castle was built for actor, director and playwright, William Hooker Gillette. It took 20 men working five years from 1914 through 1919 to complete the castle. The State bought the 184 acre estate in 1943 and opened it to the public. There are trails crossing the grounds, and the architecture, both interior and exterior, is fascinating.
Lake Hayward is near East Haddam and about 30 minutes from Mystic Seaport, Hartford, and New London. There are restaurants, shopping, and any amenities a guest could want all within a short drive of the lake. With its beautiful clear mountain water and wooded shores Lake Hayward is truly a getaway. The facilities of the POA, however, and the amenities of the surrounding area combine to make it an ideal and accessible family destination.
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