1/16 of New Hampshire is water, much of it in the Lakes Region. The largest lakes in the region include Lake Winnipesaukee with 72 square miles of water, more than 200 miles of shoreline, and 274 habitable islands; Squam Lake, where the movie “On Golden Pond” was filmed; Lake Winnisquam, Newfound Lake and Ossipee Lake. The smallest is Duncan Lake (114 acres), once a favorite fishing spot of former President and summer resident Grover Cleveland.
With such a diversity in size and shape, there is a lake for everyone here, whether your tastes run to boating, fishing, or water sports in summer, or snowmobiling, ice skating and ice fishing in winter. None of the above? Then find a spot with a sandy beach for the kids, pull up a chair and just enjoy the view. The charm of New England unfolds along the shores of our lakes. Welcome to New Hampshire!
New Hampshire’s largest and most famous lake, Winnipesaukee has been a tourist destination for more than a century. The Native American name for the lake means either “smile of the Great Spirit” or “beautiful water in a high place.” The lake is huge, and just driving around it is a 63-mile undertaking; it is the third largest body of water in New England. Surrounded by three mountain ranges, the wooded shoreline and crystal clear water of this spring-fed lake make it a popular summer resort. It is one of the best lake trout and salmon fishing waters in New England, and is ringed with numerous villages and towns that offer everything from boardwalks and water slides to public beaches and art galleries. All communities have public parks and docks.
Cruise boats are available for a tour of the lake, including scenic daytime cruises (especially nice in the autumn) and evening dinner cruises. The historic 230’ M/S Mount Washington offers daily trips from Weirs Beach during the summer, stopping at other ports on the way (Wolfeboro, Meredith, Center Harbor and Alton Bay). For a more intimate view of the lake, check out the Sophie C – this U.S. mailboat offers sightseeing cruises while delivering mail to Lake Winnipesaukee’s islands.
Area: 44,586 acres
Maximum depth: 168 feet
Fish: Salmon, lake trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, hornpout, cusk, smelt, whitefish
In the 1800s this lake was known as Asquam (meaning "water") – later it was shortened to Squam. The film site for the 1981 movie “On Golden Pond”, it is known as one of the most peaceful and pristine lakes in the country. Both Big and Little Squam Lakes are naturally spring-fed and connected by a channel. Big Squam is 6 miles long, 4 miles wide and has 61 miles of shoreline. It is the second-largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire. Little Squam is 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. The lakes are host to 67 islands.
Area: 6,791 acres
Maximum depth: 98 feet
Area: 408 acres
Maximum depth: 84 feet
Fish: Salmon, lake trout, smallmouth bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, hornpout, whitefish, cusk, smelt
This is the 6th largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire. This area boasts villages that look the same as they did 100 years ago and scenery that stays spectacular year-round. With an extensive network of rivers and bays, it is an excellent place for boating, swimming and fishing. In addition there are fantastic views of the Ossipee Mountain Range, Mount Chocorua and the 6,288’ high Mount Washington.
Portions of Ossipee Lake remain undeveloped and are home to endangered animal species, rare plants and some of the finest remaining examples of rare habitats that once were common in the state. The state-owned Ossipee Lake Natural Area encompasses 400 acres of undeveloped shoreline on the southern end of the lake. Also known as Long Sands, this sand plain pond shore system contains rare and threatened plant species and the remains of some of the area's oldest settlements. The state-owned Heath Pond Bog Natural Area, located off Route 25 near Pine River, provides 100 acres for nature lovers and bird watchers. The Bog is colorful during three seasons of the year with rare orchids, carnivorous plants, and cranberry moss. The banks of the pond grow over the water, creating a "quaking bog" that undulates up and down when stepped on.
Area: 3,092 acres
Maximum depth: 61 feet
Fish: Salmon, lake trout, brook trout, pickerel, smallmouth bass, cusk, yellow perch, hornpout, smelt
Located within sight of Lake Winnipesaukee, this lake frequently earns its name by providing mirror-image views of its surrounding hillsides. Mirror Lake connects by a short outlet stream (not navigable) to Lake Winnipesaukee. Its namesake community, a village in the town of Tuftonboro, occupies the western shore.
Area: 377 acres
Maximum depth: 44 feet
Fish: Largemouth bass, yellow perch, hornpout
This lake’s crystal clear water provides recreation for residents and visitors alike. The lake is well stocked with fish and is known as one of the best lakes in New Hampshire for salmon, trout and bass fishing. The outlet of the lake is also a popular spot for fly fishing. Water sports abound here in the summer, but waterskiing is prohibited in the Elly Cove area and in designated salmon and lake trout stocking areas. A beautiful dam on the western end of the lake is used to regulate the lake's water level. In the fall, the water level is lowered via the dam and in the spring snow melt and rainfall quickly restore the lake to its normal level.
Merrymeeting Lake's irregular shape makes it easy to navigate. North Shore Road and South Shore Road begin at the dam and follow the shoreline for nearly three miles; street numbers visible from the water indicate how many miles you are from the dam. These two roads, which almost encircle the lake, are maintained year-round for the few permanent residents. Most properties on the lake are second homes, and in the winter the population decreases dramatically. A small marina, cottage rental community, and seasonal country store are the only commercial developments on the lake.
Area: 1,111 acres
Maximum depth: 122 feet
Fish: Salmon, lake trout, smallmouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, hornpout, smelt
Great East Lake
Straddling the border between Maine and New Hampshire, Great East Lake forms the headwaters of the Salmon Falls River, the natural borderline between the two states. The dam here was completed in 1825 and is used to control the flow of the river as well as supply water power to the area. Highly regarded for its cleanliness, Great East Lake supports a large ecosystem of wildlife. It is the largest body of water in its vicinity and is itself surrounded by nine smaller lakes.
A public sandy beach on the northern side of the lake draws swimmers, and a boat launch near the lake’s outlet provides access for kayaks and boats. The towns surrounding the lake boast hundreds of 200-year-old homes and barns. Located centrally between the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Maine coast, and Lake Winnipesaukee, Great East Lake is a perfect setting for visitors who want to explore the best of Maine and New Hampshire.
Area: 1,686 acres
Maximum depth: 102 feet
Fish: Salmon, brook trout, brown trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, hornpout, smelt
Often overlooked as tourists flock to nearby Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Wentworth deserves more attention: it is one of the reasons the town of Wolfeboro has long held the title, "The Oldest Summer Resort in America." Named for the second (and last) Royal Governor of New Hampshire John Wentworth, the governor had a summer mansion and plantation here just before the Revolutionary War. Governor Wentworth's' mansion burned down in 1820 and the site is now a part of the Governor Wentworth Historic Site. Summer resorts and 'camps' were being built along the shoreline by 1884, and many famous and historical figures spent their summers here. Celebrities still come to Wolfeboro to enjoy timeless small-town lake resort living. The shoreline is primarily privately owned now, as are most of the 18 islands gracing the lake.
In addition to the lake’s crystal clear waters, visitors can enjoy two public beaches, a nature preserve, a marsh that is excellent for viewing deer, beavers, herons, and moose, and the 6-mile-long Cotton Valley Rail Trail.
Area: 3,018 acres
Maximum depth: 49 feet
Fish: Smallmouth bass, pickerel, white perch, hornpout, whitefish
The exceptionally clear waters of this lake make it popular with local residents. Located near the Maine border, it offers some of the best yellow perch fishing in the state. Lovell Lake’s long and narrow 6-mile shoreline offers a mix of rustic cabins and luxurious homes, and its waters attract boaters of all kinds. In addition, there is a town beach on the west end of the lake and biking, snowmobiling and hiking trails crisscross the area.
Area: 538 acres
Maximum depth: 41 feet
Fish: Brook trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, white perch, hornpout
People have been coming to play golf on the Province Lake's shore since the early 1900's and to enjoy its exceptionally clean waters for much longer than that. This lake – one small piece of it located in northern York County in Maine – is almost 1-3/4 miles long and just under 1-1/2 miles wide. It is a popular recreation lake that is uniformly shallow over its entire area, averaging only nine feet in depth with a sandy bottom. There is a boat ramp and public beach on the New Hampshire side. With three towns surrounding the lake and the Pine River State Forest just to the northwest, there are plenty of opportunities here to unwind and enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, or golfing.
Area: 1,008 acres
Maximum depth: 17 feet
Fish: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, hornpout
This beautiful, quiet little lake sprawls between the towns of Barnstead and Alton. Stretching over a mile and a half long and about a half mile wide, it supports a healthy population of fish but is usually overlooked by fishermen heading for the big waters of Lake Winnipesaukee (less than an hour away). There are no public beaches, but motor boats, fishing boats, paddle boats, canoes and kayaks are all allowed here. Halfmoon Lake is connected to 149-acre Locke Lake to the south. The private nature of the lake helps maintain its peaceful character.
Area: 280 acres
Maximum depth: 29 feet
Fish: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, hornpout
Pine River Pond
Pine River Pond is 3.5 miles in length and originally was used as a power source for Mathes' Mill at the outlet of the pond back in the early 1800's. The pond is now kept at its current level by a dam built back in 1977. The mean depth of the pond is 15 feet. Pine River Pond is reputed to be the best pickerel fishing spot in the state – fish up to three feet long have been caught - the best areas found in the lower eastern portion of the pond.
Area: 593 acres
Maximum depth: 61 feet
Fish: Pickerel, yellow perch, hornpout
See Also: Pine River Pond real estate listings
The glacial lakes in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region are known for their clear waters and rocky shorelines. New Hampshire’s fourth-largest lake, Winnisquam, does not disappoint and includes the small city of Laconia on its eastern shore. With 28 miles of shoreline you can find hotels, boating, fishing, campgrounds, lakeside properties, rentals, beaches, dining, or any activity or lodging you might want. As with other area lakes, it has good warm-water fishing – especially for bass and pickerel but also salmon and trout. A state park follows the shoreline and offers 128 acres of paths and hiking trails and a sandy beach.
Area: 4,264 acres
Maximum depth: 154 feet
Fish: Salmon, lake trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, hornpout, smelt