Lake Mansfield: From Road to Recreation Path

Spring 2021

The Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force invites you to review these preliminary design concepts for a new and exciting transformation of Lake Mansfield Road into a recreation-only path. The goals are to enhance recreational enjoyment, improve safety, and protect the lake waters for generations to come.

How to participate:

Walk the road and check out the signs we've placed.

Join a small guided tour by one of our task force members. Contact

Review this site and then complete a survey to let us know your thoughts 

Contact the Town Planner for more information:

Project Overview:

June 2019: Great Barrington Selectboard voted to close a portion of Lake Mansfield Road to vehicular traffic between the boat launch and the beach area.

June 2020: Voters at the Annual Town Meeting affirmed that decision and awarded funding for engineering design and specifications.

Project goals:

Stabilize the bank and increase vegetated buffer zone

Reduce stormwater runoff

Convert the roadway into a new recreational path

Redesign parking and beach areas

Change roadway north of the beach (raised and narrowed) to alleviate flooding and runoff problems

Beach/Park Area Improvements: Design concept for improving beach/park area includes:

A fully accessible path from the parking lot to beach and park area

Relocation of bathrooms/changing rooms closer to parking and beach areas

An accessible loop through the park area

New playground equipment

Parking Area Improvements: Design concept shows how proposed new parking area compares to existing parking area. Changes will improve the area in a number of important ways:

Stormwater management to prevent storm runoff from polluting the lake as it does now

Accessibility improvements including gently sloped paths and designated parking spaces

Accommodate beach and trail users in a more organized fashion

Creation of a traffic loop so that cars can turn around and head back north. Old road south of the parking area will be closed to vehicles with the exception of private pool club members and residents with driveways off Lake Mansfield Road.

Recreation Trail and Lake Neighbor Access: South of the beach area, the old road will no longer have thru-traffic. Changes in this area include:

The focus of the new and improved Lake Mansfield Road will be on recreation – not cars.

A short section of road from parking lot to recreation path will accommodate access to private pool club members and residents with driveways off Lake Mansfield Road.

Access by emergency service and utility companies will be maintained.

The combined recreation path and private access road will be no wider than 16-feet and paved for easy maintenance, safety of recreation users, and handicapped accessibility.

Shoreline Restoration: The existing road near Whale Rock is emblematic of the most dangerous and problematic section of road. Current issues include:

Bank erosion

No vegetated buffer to protect the lake from runoff pollution

Conflicts between car traffic and recreational users

Poor drainage resulting in flooding and ice build up

Design concept illustrates how the new recreation corridor will correct these issues:

Recreation path will be moved as far away from the lake edge as possible.

Lake edge will be stabilized and replanted to prevent erosion.

A vegetated buffer will be created to filter runoff prior to entering lake.

Space will be created for benches to allow rest, view wildlife, and enjoy the beauty of the lake.

Fishing and Viewing Areas: Beneath the current road is a waterlogged subsurface that flexes, bends, and breaks the roadway with every freeze-thaw cycle. This why the road has historically been in terrible shape.

The concept for this area includes:

As many as half a dozen old drain culverts will be replaced with rock “sandwich” drainage structures to allow water to flow beneath the trail while providing a stable foundation.

Drainage structures will be topped with a safe “bump-out” pocket-park space for resting, watching wildlife, taking in the view, and shoreline fishing.

Boulders will be installed to create small spaces out of the flow of walkers and bikers.

Knob Hill Entrance: What is now the roadway in this area will be converted into a recreational space and walking/biking trail without cars (except emergency vehicles).

What is currently about a 21-foot wide paved road will become 6 to 8 feet of new vegetated buffer – plus a 12-foot wide paved and fully accessible recreational path.

New path is proposed to be a single shared-use space (not dedicated bike or running lanes) – wide enough to allow recreational users to easily navigate around each other.

Drainage swales on the side away from the lake will improve drainage and prevent ice and water from collecting on the path.

North Entrance/Lake Mansfield Outlet Stream: The existing small pipe under the road is the only outlet from Lake Mansfield. When the lake floods or if there is a large storm, water overtops the road leading to dangerous conditions, ice in winter, and undermining of the road. The conceptual image shows how the road will be both narrower and a little higher than it is now. There are a few reasons for this change:

An additional large culvert with outlet structure will be installed to maintain the existing lake level but also accommodate peak flood waters.

The roadway must be raised to accommodate the larger culvert diameter.

Narrowing the road is required to stabilize the road edge and revegetate the shoulders within the roadway’s existing footprint. This creates a short stretch of road (200-300 feet) where only one car can travel at a time. Much like a narrow covered bridge, the road will be two-way, but cars will have to yield to each other before crossing.

What Comes Next: This design phase will last until approximately June of 2021 after which we will transition to a more detailed engineering phase. The Task Force is hopeful that detailed engineering plans will enable the Town to be awarded grant funding in 2022 in order to construct these improvements in 2023.

Until construction begins, the road along the lake edge will remain as it is now—a one-way road open only for northbound traffic.

When the project is completed:

Lake Mansfield Road will be closed to vehicles between the beach area at the north and the boat launch at the south (except for emergency/utility vehicles, and private access to the private pool club and private driveways on Lake Mansfield Road) as shown in image above.

Community will still be able to drive to the beach area – but from the north end only via Christian Hill Road.

How to participate:

Walk the road and check out the signs we've placed.

Join a small guided tour by one of our task force members. Contact

Review this site and then complete a survey to let us know your thoughts 

Contact the Town Planner for more information:

EXTRA CREDIT! See the Spring 2021 Lake Mansfield Newsletter: Caring for Lake and Community