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Stunning Lakes in New Hampshire to Add to Your Bucket List

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Colorful fall leaves and colorful homes and business buildings along the shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, reflecting on the water in the morning light.

New Hampshire is one of the most underrated states in the country. But, it’s loaded with some adventures that make it an exciting place to visit. Looking for a chance to float around or go for a swim? The lakes in New Hampshire are some of the best in the country. We’ve got you covered for some aquatic adventures.

Today, we share the lakes in New Hampshire you should add to your bucket list for your next visit. Let’s dive in.

How Many Lakes Are in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire doesn’t have nearly as many lakes as other states, but it has a respectable amount. You can find more than 900 lakes and impoundments in the Granite State.

New Hampshire Travel Guide – White Mountains & Lake Winnipesaukee

Many of these bodies of water offer nearly year-round adventures as the summer can be quite warm. And they freeze over in the winter to become solid sheets of ice for skating and ice fishing.

Are New Hampshire Lakes Clean?

You don’t want to spend time in a messy or dirty lake; luckily, New Hampshire has some of the cleanest and healthiest lakes in the country. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is working to fight water pollution from runoff water, invasive species, and climate change.

Keeping the New Hampshire lakes clean is not easy. It requires tremendous effort and resources, but it’s still not enough. Anyone enjoying the lakes in New Hampshire should take responsibility for helping keep them clean. 

If you see any trash or objects in the water that shouldn’t be, throw them in the proper receptacle. If you see anyone dumping anything into the water that doesn’t belong, report the activity immediately to local authorities.

A couple wearing jeans and jackets enjoy coffee from a thermos while sitting on a dock on a lake.

Should You Swim in Lakes in New Hampshire?

Swimming in the lakes in New Hampshire is generally safe. It’s safe mainly because the state and its residents do an incredible job of keeping their lakes clean. However, swimming in any body of water does have some inherent risks.

Always use safe water practices such as wearing life vests and never swimming further than you can. Additionally, you should always look around for any signs of toxic algae in the water.

A woman takes a morning swim and jumps off a floating dock in a lake.

You should also avoid swimming near areas with ducks, geese, or any other waterfowl. Parasites can live on these animals and in their feces. You can get very ill by swimming in water contaminated by these birds. 

Furthermore, avoid swimming after rain storms and flood events. Water runoff can contain pollutants, especially in heavily populated areas that use pesticides, oils, and other chemicals.

Traveler’s Tip: Find out why you can’t swim in Lake Massabesic in New Hampshire.

Bucket List Lakes in New Hampshire

With so many lakes in New Hampshire, it’s hard to know which ones you should visit. Luckily, we’ve found some of the best lakes worth your time. Grab the sunscreen and your swimsuit, and let’s get started.

Lake Winnipesaukee

Location: Central New Hampshire

About: Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire. At approximately 21 miles long and 9 miles wide, it covers 69 square miles or 71 square miles if you include Paugus Bay. It’s the third largest lake in New England, behind Lake Champlain and Moosehead Lake. 

Looking straight down the wooden dock as fog rolls over Lake Winnipesaukee in the early morning.
Lake Winnipesaukee

Its maximum depth reaches 180 feet and has at least 264 islands. Many locals enjoy the annual Ice-Out Contest. During the event, locals guess when the ice covering the lake will melt, and the M/S Mount Washington can exit her port at Center Harbor and navigate to the four other ports.

Squam Lake

Location: Central New Hampshire

About: Squam Lake is the second largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire. If you don’t like the more commercialized feel of some of the more developed lakes, visit Squam Lake. It’s 7 miles long by 4.5 miles wide with a maximum depth of 99 feet.

Sunrise over a Squam Lake in New Hampshire, shoreline plants and rolling hills covered with trees creating dark silhouettes.
Squam Lake

Squam Lake has no other businesses along the shores besides an ice cream shop and a general store nearby. It keeps a very natural feel and only has four boat launches. So you won’t find too much traffic on the lake.

If you’ve watched the 1981 film “On Golden Pond,” you might spot Squam Lake in the background. The movie was filmed in the town of Center Harbor, right on thelake. You can also enjoy one of the two charter services of Experience Squam or the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.

Lake Sunapee

Location: West Central New Hampshire

About: Lake Sunapee rounds out the top five of the largest lakes in New Hampshire. The lake stretches approximately 8 miles long by 2.5 miles wide and covers 6.5 square miles.

It has a maximum depth of 105 feet and offers 70 miles of shoreline. Lake Sunapee has incredibly clear, and you can see objects 30 feet below the water’s surface on a sunny day.

Sunset filtering through a maple tree along the shore of Lake Sunapee, in New Hampshire.
Lake Sunapee

If you want to head out onto the water, it has six boat ramps around the lake to launch watercraft. It’s only a 25-mile drive to take a trip around the lake. Despite its size, you’ll spot three lighthouses that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Newfound Lake

Location: Central New Hampshire

About: Newfound Lake offers 22 miles of shore line and measures approximately 2.5 miles wide by 6 miles long. This lake in New Hampshire has a maximum depth of 183 feet, and the best place to enjoy the lake is on the west shore at Wellington State Park. You’ll find the state’s largest freshwater swimming beach, where you can set up camp and enjoy the soft sand. 

An orange sunset glow filters over the mountains and reflects on Newfound Lake.
Newfound Lake

A couple of lighthouses sit on the shores of Newfound Lake. Don’t miss the chance to see Reed Lighthouse on West Shore Road and Newfound Lighthouse at Paradise Point Lodge.

Lake Umbagog

Location: Northern New Hampshire

About: Lake Umbagog is a part of the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge and the Umbagog Lake State Park. You can even stay at the public campground on the lake’s southernmost shore. If you want to experience an exciting adventure, find one of the 33 campsites only accessible by boat. 

A common loon on Lake Umbagog on a hazy day.
Lake Umbagog

Lake Umbagog is 11 miles long and has a surface area of 7,800 acres. It’s the largest lake along the Maine/New Hampshire border. Considering the average depth only reaches 10 feet, you may understand why the name “Umbagog” means “shallow water” in Abenaki.

Pawtuckaway Lake

Location: Southeast New Hampshire

About: The 784-acre lake has a shoreline dominated by private homes for seasonal and year-round residents. The lake, originally Pawtuckaway Pond, was enlarged to include Dolloff Pond.

Two lounge chairs on a sandy lakeside beach in the sun.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names still classifies it as a pond in their database. However, locals and the nearby Pawtuckaway State Park refer to it as a lake. It only measures 3.5 miles long by 1 mile wide and has a maximum depth of 50 feet.

Echo Lake

Location: Northwest New Hampshire

About: Echo Lake is a 15.7-acre body of water with a small, sandy beach that sits off Route 102. Visitors and locals love this popular swimming spot. It’s on the west side of Mount Desert Island and is a great place to pack a lunch and spend the day.

An aerial view shows a highway in New Hampshire winding near the deep blue colored Echo Lake in the Appalachians.
Echo Lake

However, the water temperatures can get chilly, even in the summer. The average water temperature in June is 72 degrees, and it heats up to 73 degrees in August.

Traveler’s Tip: Find out everything you need to know before visiting Echo Lake for the day!

White Lake

Location: East Central New Hampshire

About: White Lake is 125 acres surrounded by 900 acres of White Lake State Park. It’s open year-round and is a great place for families to enjoy swimming, hiking, and non-motorized boating activities.

Visit White Lake in East Central New Hampshire if you want a great place to get out in nature and enjoy wildlife. You can enjoy trout fishing, winter sports, and a host of other activities the state park offers.

Silver Lake

Location: East Central New Hampshire

About: Silver Lake is a 969-acre lake 2.5 miles long by 1 mile wide. It has an average depth of 47 feet and a maximum depth of 164.

You can experience it by visiting Silver Lake State Park. It makes it easy to enjoy swimming, picnicking, and boating. You can even rent canoes and kayaks at the park’s marina.

A wooden picnic table on the beach by a lake during autumn.

You should know that access to Silver Lake can be challenging during weekends and holidays. The beach often sells out during these times, and no further admittance is available. If you reach the beach, don’t forget that you can’t bring alcohol to Silver Lake State Park.

Lake Francis

Location: Northern New Hampshire

About: Lake Francis has over 2,000 acres and is almost 5.5 miles long by 1.5 miles wide. The lake is named in honor of Francis P. Murphy, Governor of New Hampshire from 1937 to 1941.

It has an average depth of 40 feet and a maximum depth of 82 feet. As the lake sits very far north in New Hampshire, you can go ice fishing from January through March.

Silhouette of a fisherman in a kayak on a lake as the sun sets behind the distant treeline.

Visit Lake Francis State Park to rent a canoe or serve as a base for your hunting and fishing adventures. It also has 45 campsites, nine of which have water and electric hookups for RVs and 9 for ATV camping. 

Unwind at These Lakes in New Hampshire

New Hampshire may be known as the Granite State, but it has some of the most breathtaking lakes in the country. We love visiting this area during the summer to float on the water or soak up the sun on the sandy beaches.

You won’t regret traveling to New England and exploring the quaint lake-front towns surrounding these incredible places. The views from these towns make you want to pack your things and move. Don’t miss your chance to visit these lakes in New Hampshire.

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