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17 Best Lakes in New Hampshire to Have a Whale of a Time

By | Last Updated : 12th June 2021

New Hampshire may be a small state in the US, but it has an abundance of astounding scenic beauty. You will find many lakes in the Lakes Region in the state’s east-central part. These glacial bodies of water have a beautiful border of majestic mountains and lush forests alongside. They are also residing places of many wildlife species which you can see wandering or flying by at closer proximity. The picturesque scenery surrounding the glittering lakes makes it a year-round visiting spot. In addition, there are so many outdoor activities for you to have a fun time, from swimming and kayaking to picnicking and hiking.

Lakes in New Hampshire

1. Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire

With a surface area of 44,586 acres, Lake Winnipesaukee is the state’s largest lake. Public beaches and over 250 islands dot its 240-mile shoreline, luring visitors to spend some time in relaxation.

If you plan for a 2-3 day stay here, you could conveniently put up at the hotels, inns, resorts, or private cottages that occupy the shores.

The most happening area here is perhaps the Weirs beach on the southern shores, equipped with many interesting recreational spots. The Funspot Family Center is one of them, a perfect must-visit for video game enthusiasts. Then, there is the Winnipesaukee Playhouse, and the Mount Washington Cruises, in operation between May and October. You will also find the Endicott Rock Park, an ideal spot for picnicking, equipped with shaded picnic tables.

Fishing: Anglers can enjoy a varied collection of fish, including salmon, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, lake trout, brook trout, pickerel, bullhead catfish, and yellow perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, cruising, picnicking, hiking, camping, skiing, snowmobiling

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2. Squam Lake

Squam Lake in New Hampshire

Squam Lake, with 6800 acres, is only second to Lake Winnipesaukee but the incredible vista it delivers is incomparable. It also seems a complete contrast to Lake Winnipesauke, as the former seems bustling with activity. But, on the other hand, this one stands as a perfect choice for those desiring a quiet holiday away from the maddening crowd, with cottages lined at a distance tucked amidst trees.

The beautiful, towering pine trees and colorful flowering shrubs and bushes all around the calm waters will leave you spellbound. Several islands, including Bowman Island and Moon Island, offer you the opportunity to view its beauty from unique angles. Do not miss out on spending some quiet time in Mother Nature’s lap, boating peacefully in the beautiful lake.

Take out your binoculars to spot the loons or bald eagles perching on a nearby tree or watch silently as the deer comes to drink water from the lake or grazes nearby. The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center offers you opportunities to witness diverse wildlife, including moose and bear. Besides this, it also offers several fun activities that you and your kids are sure to love.

Hike up the West Rattlesnake Trail to experience a magnificent view of the lake.

The movie ‘On Golden Pond’ was shot on the Squam Lake in 1981, increasing the craze among people to get here.

Fishing: The lake has generous amounts of rainbow trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, largemouth and smallmouth salmon, chain pickerel, lake whitefish, and white perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, camping, hiking, birdwatching, wildlife watching, nature gazing

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3. Pawtuckaway Lake

Pawtuckaway Lake in New Hampshire

You will find Pawtuckaway Lake in the town of Nottingham. Though many private homes encompass the lake’s shoreline, you will still find several recreational activities in the Pawtuckaway State Park. If you get your kids along, make full use of the sandy beach engaging in a game of frisbee or making sandcastles.

On a hot day, swim in the clear blue waters or spend the lazy afternoon taking a boat ride in a kayak, canoe, or paddleboards around the lake. Be sure to take part in the canoe orienteering events held occasionally.

The marshy areas are home to many wildlife, including beavers, deer, and great blue heron. So, don’t miss catching a glimpse of them.

In addition, avid hikers will have a great time exploring exciting spots on their way, one being a fire tower on the mountain top. You could also find extensive marshlands inhabited by beavers, blue heron, and deer.

Fishing: Anglers enjoy catching various fish species, including chain pickerel, black crappie, smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, and white perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bouldering, camping

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4. Lake Sunapee

Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire

Lake Sunapee, a favorite vacation spot for many, flows in the foothills of the mighty Mt. Sunapee. One of the unique features found here is the three working lighthouses occupying the surrounding rocky islands. Nature lovers can stop at the lake’s southern shore and appreciate the beauty of The Fells, a historic estate featuring many attractive gardens.

There is so much to view for the wildlife watchers, such as moose, whitetail deer, black bear, red foxes, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, beavers, muskrats, and raccoons. Visitors have often spoken of the lake’s cleanliness and quietness, making it perfect for those desiring a quiet holiday.

The Mount Sunapee State Park, situated around the lake area, remains equipped with picnic tables, lifeguards, a bathhouse, and a boat launch.

The western shore has the Lake Sunapee Yacht Club hosting a wide range of activities like sailing and swimming, and tennis for kids and adults. So, if you are going there in summer, do plan a visit here. MV Kearsarge, one of the most popular cruises starting from the yacht club, is another perfect pick opted by many on the lookout for a fabulous stint on the waters.

Fishing: This lake is an angler’s paradise with many fish species such as lake trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, and yellow perch. It even has provisions for ice fishing during winter.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, hiking, wildlife watching, zip-lining, camping

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5. Newfound Lake

Newfound Lake in New Hampshire

The state’s deepest, Newfound Lake, is known for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque scenery created by the small hills and woodlands surrounding it.

A boat ride in the calm lake would be perfect for witnessing the surrounding lush beauty. However, if going there during the hot summers, do make your way to the large beach in the Wellington State Park, located along the lake’s shoreline.

After a swim, you could head to the bathhouse in the state park for a relaxing hot shower. If planning to picnic with your kith and kin here, you could even prepare food here at your glory since the park allows one to bring gas grills and cook on charcoal fires and wood. The Snack bar nearby sells many essential picnic items, alongside ice creams and other goodies, so if you have missed bringing a few things, you know where to go.

Many trails, primarily found on the northern shore, will let you witness different plant species apart from the breathtaking vistas of the mountains and the lake.

Fishing: The lake offers excellent fishing opportunities with 22 species dwelling here, some of which are brook trout, lake trout, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass, and brown bullhead.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, nature gazing, camping, picnicking

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6. Ossipee Lake

Ossipee Lake in New Hampshire

Ossipee Lake, the state’s sixth-largest, draws visitors for the year-round activities alongside the mesmerizing view of the stunning mountains engulfing the lake. Each season offers a different scenic vista that is sure to stun you. Encompassing the lake are three bridges from where you can capture some of the best pictures of it. It is also a paradise for wildlife viewers, since the place teems with moose, black bears, otters, deer, and muskrats.

If you are in for a weekend getaway, you can book any accommodation by the lakeside for a memorable and peaceful stay. If lucky enough to get a cottage right next to the lake, then the marvelous view produced on the clear blue waters during sunset is a sight that you surely shouldn’t miss.

Fishing: You will be able to catch various fish species like landlocked salmon, perch, rainbow trout, and chain pickerel.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing

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7. Spofford Lake

Spofford Lake in New Hampshire

Located in Chesterfield, Spofford Lake is a fantastic place to spend the summer weekends. Though some parts of it are for the residents, you can swim or spend a lazy hot afternoon in Ware’s Grove Beach. Go canoeing to Pierce Island, and while returning, soak in the beauty of the sunset. For added pleasure, you can play golf at the nearby Pine Grove Springs Country Club. Swimming here as per some tourists is an absolute pleasure, especially during sunrise when the view around alongside the water quality is at its best.

This lake is also attractive in the autumn when the reflection of the surrounding trees changing their color to hues of red, yellow, and orange fall on the lake. Don’t miss witnessing it. If planning for a get-together, spot a picnic table lying along the shoreline, though getting a shaded area is sheer luck as there are a few of them only.

Fishing: Smallmouth and largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and northern pike are available in plenty.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, nature gazing, camping

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8. Winnisquam Lake

Winnisquam Lake in New Hampshire

This body of water flowing in the Lake Region of central Northern Hampshire offers a breathtaking view of its surroundings. The pristine lake and lush greenery will entice you to have a boat ride or enjoy other water activities for as long as you can. You can also bask in the sun in the sand bar while taking in the lake view.

Do visit the Ahern State Park on the lake’s eastern shore for a beautiful hiking or biking experience or even if you desire to boat or fish on the lake. Watch the loons and bald eagles flying by while hiking along the trails starting from the park. Also, take a trip to the quaint towns of Belmont, Laconia, Meredith, Sanbornton, and Tilton, and you would for sure be in for a perfect visual retreat.

Fishing: Popular fish species caught here are rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, lake trout, landlocked salmon, whitefish, walleye, pickerel, and yellow perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, snowshoeing

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9. Great East Lake

Great East Lake in New Hampshire

Great East Lake majorly flows in eastern Hampshire but extends to the neighboring state, Maine. You will have a rich experience watching the abundant wildlife such as moose, deer, bear, otters and turtles, and many more. You can enjoy plenty of water activity in this clear blue lake, from swimming to kayaking. In addition, when you’re hungry, you can choose from several restaurants near the lake’s shore for a delightful meal. There are many staying places too, some offering beautiful lakefront views.

Fishing: Anglers enjoy catching fish in this lake where 21 fish species are available, including lake trout, rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappie, white perch, chain pickerel, and American eel.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, wakeboarding, water skiing, canoeing, camping, wildlife watching

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10. Conway Lake

Conway Lake in New Hampshire

Nestled in Carroll County, you will find this hidden gem. With the White Mountains providing a picturesque backdrop and trees lined on its shoreline, the calm waters of the little lake are a perfect place to spend time in relaxation. Public and private beaches allow visitors to enjoy water activities from swimming to boating and sailing to water skiing. Teeming with turtles, herons, deer, loons, and eagles on its shoreline, wildlife watchers would certainly experience immense pleasure during their visit to the lake.

Several trails traversing through the dense forests offer marvelous views. Spend the night in the campground gazing at stars while listening to the soothing, gentle waves of the lake.

Fishing: The most sought-after fish species include chain pickerel, landlocked salmon, largemouth and smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, and rainbow trout.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, wildlife viewing, gazing, hiking, camping

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11. Christine Lake

Christine Lake in New Hampshire

Christine Lake is a clean lake in northern New Hampshire’s Stark town, encompassed by the Kauffman Forest. The best way to soak in its beauty is by canoeing or kayaking, as you will have a visual treat of the surrounding wilderness. You can also spot ospreys, loons, and bald eagles flying around occasionally. Avid hikers can take up some challenging hikes to Devils Slide’s top, where a magnificent view of the lake, the town, and surrounding mountains is sure to reward them.

Fishing: Brook trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass are available here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, birdwatching

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12. Lake Wentworth

Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire

Lake Wentworth is a pretty little lake in the town of Wolfeboro. Swimming is a sought-after activity here. Albee Beach and Wentworth State Park boast swimming beaches for you to take pleasure in the lake’s pristine waters. The state park has amenities like flush toilets and picnic tables, so planning a family gathering here may not be too inconvenient. Another key attraction is the eighteen islands surrounding the lake, one of the most significant and largest among the lot, being the Stamp Island. 

Hike the nature trails for scenic views, and you might also come across a deer or a beaver on your way. In addition, visit the nearby museums that would catch the interest of visitors of any age group.

Fishing: This lake supports a wide variety of fish, including rainbow trout, chain pickerel, largemouth and smallmouth bass, horned pout, and white perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sailing, tubing, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, sightseeing, nature gazing, hiking, wildlife viewing

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13. Umbagog Lake

Umbagog Lake in New Hampshire

Umbagog Lake shares its waters with New Hampshire and Maine. It is a favorite destination among wildlife and nature lovers since the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge houses it. Do bring your binoculars along to catch a glimpse of the bald eagles, loons, and ospreys. You may also spot a rabbit hopping by or a bear strolling in the wilderness. Visit the lake in autumn to witness not only the dazzling colors of the surrounding trees but also to go moose-watching. Finally, don’t miss camping in Umbagog State Park for added fun like camping in any of the wilderness campsites, picnicking, hiking, or even canoeing.

Fishing: Umbagog Lake is well known for its smallmouth bass. There are plenty of other fish species, including trout, perch, salmon, and pickerel.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, picnicking, camping, nature gazing, wildlife watching

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14. Canobie Lake

Canobie Lake in New Hampshire

If on the lookout for a fun-filled yet quiet vacation, consider head towards Canobie Lake, having a 152-hectare area. Besides the view of the rippling waters creating a spectacular sight, you could even peep through your binocular and spot several birds like ospreys and cormorants flying around the lake. Carry your fishing reels and have good luck catching some fish. But, unfortunately, you cannot swim in its waters since that is prohibited since 1903 as the lake provides water to Salem town.

Canobie Lake Park, the most popular spot here, provides different kinds of rides varying in difficulty levels. For families, Antique Carrousel, Blue Heron, and Crazy Cups stand perfect. Those desiring some thrill do not miss out on the Icejet, Starblaster, and Wipeout. When taking kiddos along the Alpine Swing, Flower Power and Jeep are a few to choose from.

Fishing: It is home to various fish like largemouth and smallmouth bass, brook trout, black crappie, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and pickerel.

Other Activities: Boating, birdwatching, nature gazing, sightseeing

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15. Echo Lake

Echo Lake in New Hampshire

You will find this shallow lake within Echo Lake State Park, located near North Conway. The state park features a small swimming beach where you can float on your back in the waters and stare at the sky. Carry your picnic basket to have an enjoyable meal at the lakeside with your family. You may even go canoeing on the waters for a stunning view of the towering cliffs and ledges circling the shoreline. You can also engage yourself in rock climbing or hiking these cliffs, including Cathedral Ledge, the top of which would generate amazing scenic views.

Fishing: The most popular fish caught here include smallmouth bass and yellow perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding

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16. Pleasant Lake

Pleasant Lake in New Hampshire

Pleasant Lake in Merrimack County in central New Hampshire is a small yet pretty lake. First, head to Elkins Beach near the lake’s outlet, where you can enjoy taking a refreshing dip. Next, go to Blueberry Island to take the pleasure of further water activities. Have a picnic there and return after watching the sunset.

Fishing: Landlocked salmon, brook trout, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, and horned pout are usually available in the lake.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking

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17. Lake Solitude

Lake Solitude in New Hampshire

Another hidden gem, found in between the central peak of Mount Sunapee and South Peak. It is a part of Mount Sunapee State Park, which offers excellent recreational activities. Hikers, in particular, will enjoy coming to this secluded lake. It is both fun and challenging to hike the Andrew Brook Trail, the Newbury Trail, or the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail to have access to it. The views of the high White Ledge towering over the lake’s west shore are sure to astonish you. Since many rare species reside in the waters, swimming as well as bringing dogs are not permissible. To enjoy more activities, you can visit the other lakes located within the state park.

Fishing: Brook trout, rainbow trout, common carp, and smallmouth bass are the main catches here.

Other Activities: Hiking, nature gazing

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TOP PICKS

Best Lakes for Fishing: Lake Winnipesaukee, Newfound Lake, Squam Lake

Best Lakes for Swimming: Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, Newfound Lake

Best Lakes to Live On: Lake Sunapee, Ossipee Lake, Newfound Lake

Best Lakes for Camping: Squam Lake, Conway Lake, Umbagog Lake

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