On the first morning when the thermometer on the shady north side of our house inches up into the 80s, we grab beach bags and head up I-93 to Newfound Lake.
Considerably smaller than Winnipesaukee to the east, but about the same size as Sunapee to the southwest, Newfound is some 7 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide. Close by, Wellington State Park is tucked just off West Shore Road. It’s late morning when we lug our gear past the old-style swing sets and onto the long curve of firm sand, but there are still some vacant picnic tables under the white pines. In the water there’s the usual roped-off shallow area for kids and, less usual, marked outer lanes for serious swimmers—plenty of room for everyone in water that’s so clear you can see small fish skimming along the sandy bottom.
We settle back into the shade and feast on the view of cool blue that seems to extend all the way to Tenney Mountain in the distance. A few swims later, we walk from the beach into the woods along the Peninsula Trail, which brings us back to the beach and another swim.
It’s late afternoon by the time we follow West Shore Road into Hebron. The grill at the Hebron General Store has been turned off for the day, but there’s still ice cream. A short drive west brings us to Sculptured Rocks Natural Area in Groton, a series of natural pools and shoots down in a canyon of the Cockermouth River. It’s too late to jump in ourselves, but from the footbridge we watch the fun below.
The Newfound Audubon Center on North Shore Road is about to close by the time we stop by. Next time we’ll come early enough to take out a kayak. The way home is down along the eastern shore of the lake, with views of the sun setting behind Mount Cardigan to the west.