Topic: Lakes Region

Newfound Lake: Most Beautiful Lake in New Hampshire

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Newfound Lake, which is 2-1/2 miles wide and seven miles long, reaches depths of up to 180 feet and is fed by eight springs, and the water is considered the most pristine in the state.

Newfound Lake: Most Beautiful Lake in New Hampshire

Newfound Lake: Most Beautiful Lake in New Hampshire

Rob Bossi


Woods and water are essential to a New England summer vacation, and, standing near the tip of Paradise Point on New Hampshire’s Newfound Lake, just west of Lake Winnipesaukee, I realize I’ve happily found summer. I arrived here by walking 10 minutes through hushed woods, where the hemlocks and moss captured the sounds of my every footstep. Along the way, I could smell the luxuriant scent of the forest.

And then, as if a curtain of light had been lifted in the woods: the water.

Ask any resident around Newfound Lake about its water and you’ll get an earful. The glacial lake, which is 2-1/2 miles wide and seven miles long, reaches depths of up to 180 feet and is fed by eight springs. You’ll hear that the water is considered the most pristine in the state. You’ll also hear that this isn’t by chance — the Newfound Lake Region Association remains diligent in monitoring the lake, keeping milfoil at bay, and ensuring it stays this way. From Paradise Point, you may observe that this is no small challenge. This is not a wilderness lake. Motorboats crease the lake’s surface all summer; cottages line the distant shore.

A small lake provides a series of small adventures, not a single large one. That’s certainly the case here. You could spend a week making small forays on the water and into the forest.

I dropped my suitcases at The Inn on Newfound Lake on the eastern shore, which in some form has been welcoming guests since 1840. With its floral wallpaper, it still has the feel of a New England boardinghouse, with creaky stairs and smallish rooms. (Some still have their bathrooms across the hall.) The inn is just across the road from the lake and looks out toward Mount Cardigan beyond the western shore. A refreshing dip in those cleansing waters from the inn’s sandy beach is a good way to start an adventure here.

Then to Paradise Point, the New Hampshire Audubon preserve up at the head of the lake. The preserve consists of just 43 acres, but this encompasses 3,500 feet of untouched shorefront. Bring a picnic. Take a hike. Rent a kayak or canoe from the nature center or launch your own craft and see how the shoreline looks when viewed from the outside in.

Keep driving counterclockwise around Newfound Lake and you’ll soon come to the timeless village of Hebron. There’s a grassy, irregular square with a small gazebo, a church, and a country store, all awash in white clapboard.

Pause if you’d like, but then push on 2.8 miles from Hebron toward Groton to Sculptured Rocks Natural Area. (Follow the signs from town.) The Cockermouth River flows through a cleft in the granite here, but that simple description doesn’t do it justice. The river was once the outflow of a great glacier, and the currents tossed car-sized boulders around like cherry pits in a sink drain. The force carved out all sorts of fantastical, cloudlike shapes in the rock. Older kids with a strong crawl—both aquatic and terrestrial—love to start at the bottom of the gorge and, salmonlike, swim and scramble their way as far upstream as they can go.

A 1912 postcard showcases Sugarloaf’s Ledges, on the west side of the lake, as a local bit of worthy natural drama. And this 200-foot static cascade of gray rock, plunging down the hill and into the lake, still has the power to impress as you drive by, slowly, mindful of oncoming cars and the rock wall between you and the lake.

Farther along is Wellington State Park, a handsome crescent of sand capping the end of a cove. Bustling on weekends and quieter on weekdays, this park—carved out by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s—is a fine destination. You can expand your view nicely by crossing the road and hiking up the Elwell Trail, which will take you to the top of those ledges you recently passed by.

Bristol is the market town hereabouts, and, like the lake, it packs a lot into a little. The town was once known for the high quality of its glacial sand and the bricks that were made from it. Today, it’s known for … well, not much. (A wry someone on Wikipedia saw fit to tout the appeal of the local convenience store, where “the main attraction is the ability to buy a 32 oz slushie for $0.69.”)

Actually, there’s more to Bristol than that. The compact brick downtown has a deli, a diner, a bakery selling a creditable corn muffin, an antiques mall, and a dinner place called Joe’s Restaurant and Sports Bar.

Before completing the loop back to the hotel, take time to stop at Iron Horse Metal Works, where co-owner Victor MacAdam makes his handsome, sometimes whimsical, and generally affordable garden sculptures. They’re for sale at Earthly Treasures (run by Victor’s wife, Elaine), the adjacent gift shop that carries “nature-inspired, American-made” goods including jewelry, lamps, furniture, and other crafts, many of which are made in New Hampshire and all from small producers.

And small, as you will have come to know by now, is good.


Check out the Newfound Lake Region Association’s website for more information.

Have you ever been to Newfound Lake?

  • After 33 years in North Carolina, when four of our children wanted us to move back to New England, we moved to Maine thinking the salt air would produce less snow. We were wrong; it is all right because we do love our former vacation place, the Kennebunks. But how I wish we were near enough to “Drive around the Lake” which was the way my father entertained us after summer suppertime. We had dinner at noon. Even in our nineties, we could enjoy those 22 mile drives around the Lake! I think I have a new title for my memoir that I had intended to call “Wintergreen Tea.” “Drive Around the Lake” has a tourist book ring to it!

  • Love This BEAUTIFUL Lake! We Built There 8 Years Ago After Renting For So Many Years. What A Very Special Place….Feeling Blessed To Be A Part Of It!

  • Camp Islamist is now called Bristol Shores and is a trailer park of sorts… it’s been 5 years since u posted but I just got this today so…whatever I rd worth. You can by the trailer fully furnished for pretty cheap these days, and taxes depend on how close to the water you are.Once place if you’re not lucky enough to be in a family that’s been there for generations thanks to Nana and Grampy… we are at the foot of the lake!

  • I love Newfound Lake. It is so beautiful. Both of my kids learned to swim in its cold, clean water.
    My only gripe is that there be a moratorium on any more building near or around the lake.
    I met a woman yesterday, she dated a boy who lived near the lake 40 plus years ago.
    Recently, she returned to the area and was shocked by the development that was allowed.
    It seems that any tiny piece of land is ripe for development.
    If we all love the lake, and we do, than let’s stop allowing more cottages, camps and homes to be built.
    Keep Newfound beautiful and pristine!

  • Peter

    does anyone have a phone number for Camp Wulamat — the one mentioned above, not the campground version. I used to go there as a kid and would love to try to take my young family sometime. but I can’t find contact info anywhere on the web (I did place a call to the Newfound Chamber of Commerce). Thanks (pronayne@gmail.com)

  • I have been coming to Newfound Lake since i was a twinkle in my father’s eye, and i am now 65. My children and grandchildren have also been coming along. We have been staying at Camp Wulamat, where my grandparents had been going since the late 1930s, and my sister and I and out families have been renting cabins ever since. It is the most beautiful lake i have ever seen, it is crystal clear all over except where the depth is aroundd 180 feet, and I’m sure that if you were tall enough to stand there you would see your toenails very well. It is so beautiful there surrounded by the mountain, with the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, seeing a rainstorm coming across the lake, white caps on a windy day, along with the beautiful sails of the sailboats. The camp Wulamat used to be a boyscout camp, and has cabins which for the most part, are still the same ones. which have been upgraded. Refrigerators used to be on the porch outside, actually ice boxes. The ice man used to come a few times a week to deliver ice for everyone, there are tin wood stoves in each cabin, still, to take the evening and morning chill out of the cabin. They have indoor plumbing, but if you want hot water, you can take a large bucket to the main lodge where there is a spigot where you can retrieve hot water,
    for dishes. There is a large shower building for bathing. There is a huge recreation hall where the guests get together for weekily bingo game, and an evening for dancing. It is a wonderful family camp where everyone basically goes there the same time every year and are forever neighbors. At night or early in the morning, you can smell the wood stoves, and perhaps bacon cooking. All cabins have screened in porches, I can’t say enough about the area and the lake. If you just mention newfound lake to anyone who might have ever been there even for one day or afternoon ride, they will never be able to say enough about the area as I can’t. I hope I can continue going there a lot longer. I was very sad to hear about the Old Man o9f the Mountain,, falling down, which happened on my grandfather’s birthday on May 3. This was the grandfather who used to take us there as children. It was my other special place to go in New Hampshire, I would even make a special trip there often through the year to see both. Well, I could go on forever about this magnificent place. There aren’t enough words or pictures to describe all of its beauty, and nature. Thank you for the opportunity, and if you ever have a chance to go, Start in Bristol, and follow the road around the lake to see it all, Not a place to be missed in life.

    • My family vacationed at Camp Wulamat from 1958 – 1969??? Loved loved loved it. Simple life. Great swimming in the lake. Celebrated my birthdays there in the Summer House…. Love the area!

  • i have been going to newfound lake for thirty years since i was a baby and never heard of the sculptured rocks before. we have trip planned for july and my 7 year old can’t wait. anyone have ant other hidden jems?


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