Lake Thoreau

Lake Thoreau is a 41 acre man-made lake built in 1971 that was formed by the dam over which South Lakes Drive traverses.  Lake Audubon is on the east side of the dam, and is about 30 feet lower in elevation than Lake Thoreau. A story is told that when the dam was first built they thought it would take a year or two for the lake to fill up — along came a hurricane and it filled up almost overnight.

This area was originally filled with stream-cut ravines, with water depths up to 35 feet.  It is fascinating to watch the wind-induced surface currents change direction – mornings usually going towards the east and afternoons going toward the west.

We have a bit of a debate – is the Coriolis effect partially to blame or do the winds generally change as they might at the ocean shore with land and sea temperature changes?

If you live on one of the other Reston lakes, start another blog – let’s keep in contact with each other – comparing wildlife species, local migration patterns, etc.  Perhaps we could even host a wildlife observing and blogging event at other lakes — such as Lake Audubon, Lake Anne, Lake Fairfax, Lake Newport, and the ponds across from Plaza America.


  1. Beautiful and entertaining site you have here. What a view to the world! Thanks for including links to the Walker Nature Education Center and Friends of Reston. It’s nice to see materials like the Birds of Reston Checklist being used by our “citizen scientists”.

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