About Lake Winni
Discover New Hampshire’s largest lake in the foothills of the White Mountains
The largest lake in New Hampshire at 72 square miles, Lake Winnipesaukee’s picture-perfect location, wooded shoreline and crystal clear, spring-fed water, make it a popular summer destination for tourists and locals alike. Here’s a look at the villages, beaches, boating, fishing and exciting events that make Lake Winni a haven for rest and relaxation.Come Out and Play
Get out on the water
Relax on the beach
Enjoy year-round events
Explore hiking and biking trails
Play in the snow
Get hooked on fishing
Become one with nature
Planning an adventure to Lake Winnipesaukee? Here’s everything you need to know to make the most out of your trip.
Public areas and things to do
Enjoy the waters of Lake Winni all year long. Summertime is perfect for bringing your own boat, renting one, or booking a charter or cruise, and there’s no time like winter for ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, cross-country skiing or even ice boating.
Alton Bay Public Launch, Alton
About a quarter mile north of the Route 11 bridge, on Route 11, in a public parking lot. No fee charged. Public parking for trailers about 1/2 mile away.
Downing’s Landing, Alton
Just east of the Route 11 bridge. Parking fee charged (Includes launch).
West Alton Marina, Alton
At the junction of Route 11 and Route 11-A. Fee charged (Includes parking).
Roberts Cove Marina, Alton
From the Alton traffic circle, proceed five-and-a-half miles toward Wolfeboro on Route 28. Turn left onto Roberts Cove Road. Fee charged.
Public Docks, Center Harbor
In town behind Heath’s Hardware Store adjacent to town docks. Fee charged. Short walk to parking.
Fay’s Boat Yard, Gilford
From Junction 11/11B, east on Route 11 for 0.1 mile. Turn left onto Varney Point Road. Fee charged.
Silver Sands Motel & Marina, Gilford
On Route 11B, half a mile northwest of Junction 11B/11. Available 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., $20 fee charged.
Lakeport Landing Marina, Laconia/Weirs
Southern end of Paugus Bay at the Junction of Elm Street and Union Avenue. Fee charged.
Public Docks, Meredith (Route 3)
Route 3 at the public parking lot between the Mount Washington dock and Hesky Park. Fee charged. Parking for trailers is nearby.
Public Docks, Meredith (Lovejoy Sands Road)
North on Route 25, 2/10 mile from downtown Meredith, turn right onto Pleasant Street as it curves around Meredith Bay. Follow Pleasant Street to Meredith Neck Road. Turn right. Follow for three miles and turn left onto Lovejoy Sands Road. Launch is next to Shep Brown’s Boat Basin. No fee charged. Parking available.
2 Bay Shore Drive. Just off Route 3 on the right between Route 104 and Route 25. Fee charged. Rentals available.
Harilla Landing, Meredith (Long Island)
From Route 25 and Moultonboro Neck Road, proceed 2/10 miles south/east on Moultonboro Neck Road, and cross onto Long Island. After crossing bridge, proceed 2/10 miles on Long Island Road.
Public Boat Launch, Moultonborough
Turn right onto Moultonboro Neck Road from Route 25. Proceed 2/10 miles south/east on Moultonboro Neck Road and cross onto Long Island. Launch site is on the left 2/10 mile after crossing bridge. Parking requires Moultonboro beach and dump sticker.
Lee’s Mills, Moultonborough
From Moultonborough Center, proceed 4/10 mile south on Route 25. Turn Left onto Blake Road. At end of Blake Road, turn right onto Lee’s Mills Road and proceed to end. No fee charged. Parking available.
States Landing, Moultonborough
From the intersection of Route 109 and Route 25 at the Moultonborough Airport, proceed southeast on Route 109 for 8/10 miles and turn right onto States Landing Road. Follow States Landing Road for one mile.
Melvin Village Public Landing, Tuftonboro
Off Route 109. No fee charged.
Libby Museum, Wolfeboro
Opposite the Libby Museum on Route 109, 1/10 miles northwest of Wolfeboro. No fee charged. No parking.
Goodhue and Hawkins Navy Yard, Wolfeboro
Sewell Road, Wolfeboro. From downtown Wolfeboro, head west on Route 109 for 2/10 mile. Turn left onto Sewell Road, and proceed for one mile.
Back Bay Marina, Wolfeboro (Railroad Avenue)
In downtown Wolfeboro, go one block north (away from the main lake) on Railroad Avenue. Launch site is behind the old Wolfeboro railroad terminal. No fee charged. Parking available. Note: To get to the Big Lake, you must travel under a bridge with a clearance of only a little over four feet (full lake).
Town Docks and Boat Ramp, Wolfeboro (Main Street)
Main Street, in the public parking lot behind shops, next to Wolfeboro town docks. No fee charged.
From small, tucked-away locations to popular state parks, Lake Winni is ringed with public beaches that are perfect for relaxing, swimming and soaking in the summer sunshine.
Town Beaches, Alton
Small swimming beach, restrooms, parking. No fee. Route 28A on Alton Bay. No lifeguard on duty.
Alton Swimming Dock
Swim dock on Route 11 next to town docks. No fee. Lifeguard on duty.
Brewster Beach, Wolfeboro
Route 28 (south of downtown) to Clark Road (across from Huggins Hospital). Restrooms, swimming, picnicking. No fee.
Carry Beach, Wolfeboro
Route 28 (north of downtown) to Forest Road. Swimming, picnicking, restrooms.
Ellacoya State Beach, Gilford
600-foot sandy beach on southwest shore of Lake Winnipesaukee on Route 11. Swimming, picnicking, store, bathhouse, RV park with 38 campsites.
Leavitt Park Beach, Meredith
Swimming, picnicking, small playground area. No fee. From Route 25/Route 3 intersection, take Route 25 North to Leavitt Road.
Weirs Beach Endicott Park
Small public beach on the Weirs Beach Channel connecting Paugus Bay with the larger portion of Lake Winnipesaukee. See historic Endicott Rock, where surveyors commissioned by Royal Governor John Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony signed their initials in 1652. Great place for boat-watching. Admission fee. Route 3, overlooking the town docks.
19 Mile Bay Beach, Tuftonboro
Swimming, picnicking, portable toilets, no lifeguard on duty, parking available. No fee.
Governor Wentworth Highway, Route 109
20 Mile Bay Beach, Tuftonboro
Swimming, picnicking, limited parking. No fee. No lifeguard on duty.
Governor Wentworth Highway, Route 109
Melvin Wharf Beach
Swimming, limited parking. No restrooms. No lifeguard on duty. Fee charged.
Governor Wentworth Highway, Route 109, at the Junction of Elm Street and Union Avenue.
The lake is home to a wide variety of fish, including salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, small/largemouth bass, pickerel, yellow/white perch, hornpout, cusk, smelt, bluegill and whitefish.
- Best lake trout and salmon fishing in New England.
- Look for salmon in Alton Bay and the Merrymeeting River when the season opens in the spring.
- Troll streamer flies, lures and smelt near the surface for salmon, lake and rainbow trout in early spring.
- Troll with weighted line and down-riggers in later spring.
- Fish smallmouth bass along rocky shorelines.
- Bass fishing best from May to early July (nesting period).
Lake Winni is ringed by quaint New England towns. Be sure to stop by, say hello and support their local businesses.
- Center Harbor
- Melvin Village
- Alton Bay
- Weirs Beach
Get up close and personal with Mother Nature at one of the lake’s many nature preserves. Explore forests, ponds and trails by land, or take in the sights by boat around the lake’s island preserves.
Loon Preservation Center & Marcus Wildlife Sanctuary, Moultonborough
200-acre parcel on the northeastern shores of Winnipesaukee. Upland forests, marshes, a pond, clear running streams and more that 5,000 feet of undeveloped shore land.
Ragged Island, Tuftonboro
11-acre island maintained, owned and operated by the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Ragged Island is not open to the public to protect the island’s fragile ecosystem.
Stonedam Island, Meredith
112-acre wildlife preserve. Maintained by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.
The Lakes Region Conservation Trust
Provides public access for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and paddling to more than 145 properties throughout the Lakes Region, including some of New Hampshire’s most beautiful and beloved conserved areas, such as the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in Moultonborough, the Piper Mountain Conservation Area in Gilford, the Sewall Woods Conservation Area in Wolfeboro, the Sugarloaf Ridge–Goose Pond Conservation Area in Alexandria, and Ragged and Stonedam Islands on Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Big Lake is much more than a summer destination. You’ll find fun activities and events that the whole family will love all year long.
Great Rotary Fishing Derby
The annual ice fishing derby, sponsored every winter by the Meredith Rotary Club, has more than $50,000 up for grabs.
Sled Dog Races
Watch happy dogs pull fast sleds every winter. The race includes spectator areas, vendors, raffles and other fun family activities.
The biggest catch at this springtime fishing tradition could reel in a new boat or ATV. Prizes are available for both salmon and lake trout.
Laconia Rally & Motorcycle Week
Each June, the world’s oldest motorcycle rally rolls into Laconia. Enjoy vendors, live music and loud engines.
The lakes, mountains and back roads around picturesque Laconia are the perfect setting for this annual Ironman race to the finish.
Lakes Region Fine Arts & Crafts Festival
Every fall, Main Street Meredith becomes home to juried artists and craftsmen during one of the oldest events in the Lakes Region.
Start your engines at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Enjoy races from NASCAR championships to local legends, or book your own driving experience.
NH Open Water Ski Tournament
Held in the waters of Back Bay off the Wolfeboro shore for more than 30 years, this ski tournament includes slalom, tricks and jumping.
Lace up your hiking boots to explore hundreds of miles of hiking trails that follow the shoreline or head up one of the nearby mountains for outstanding views. Trails are available for all skill levels, from easy, flat walks to steep vertical rises.
Belknap Mountain, Gilford
Choose from the blue, green or red trail, which all start from the trailhead on Carriage Road south of Gilford and make their way to the summit of Belknap Mountain. Vertical rise is 740 feet.
Mt. Major, Alton Bay
This popular hiking spot is about five miles north of Alton Bay near Ellacoya State Beach. Look for a highway sign that marks the parking lot. Vertical rise is 100 feet.
Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest, Center Harbor
Explore this 157-acre forest with more than a mile of waterfront, several beaches, swamp walk and more than four miles of hiking trails managed by the Squam Lakes Association. Look for the trailhead off College Road.
West Rattlesnake Mountain, Holderness
Trailheads are located off Route 113, about five miles north of downtown Holderness. This short, easy climb leads to amazing views, but use caution with children; there are steep cliffs at the summit.
Red Hill Fire Tower Trail, Moultonborough
Find the trailhead at 350 Red Hill Road, and hike up the fire tower for unparalleled views of Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, and the Squam, Belknap, Ossipee and White Mountain ranges.
Bald Peak, Tuftonboro
More than 28 miles of trails offer a variety of difficult levels, all accessible from Castle in the Clouds.
Gunstock Recreation Area, Gilford
This all-season playground includes trails up Gunstock Mountain, Mount Rowe and Cobble Mountain for breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee and several mountain ranges. Trail maps available at the base lodge.
Abenaki Tower, Tuftonboro
A five-minute walk from the parking area off Route 109 leads to an 80-foot tower overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee Mountains.
Cotton Valley Trail, Wolfeboro
This 12-mile railroad corridor stretches from Lake Winnipesaukee to the railroad turntable in Sanbornville. It meanders across three lakes, many trestles, Cotton Valley, and winds through scenic woods and fields.
Russell C. Chase Bridge Falls Path, Wolfeboro
Begin this half-mile trek behind the railroad station Wolfeboro Falls area.
For beauty, serenity, and a chance to see the region’s native flora and fauna, there’s no place quite like a state park.
Ellacoya State Park, located along the lake’s southern shoreline in Gilford, includes 600 feet of beach, mountain views and all the amenities, including swimming, picnicking and an RV campground.
The trails around Lake Winni are for more than just summertime hikes. The area is also popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Wolfeboro Cross Country Ski Association, Wolfeboro
Located at Nordic Skier Sports on Main Street, the association is your headquarters for all things cross-country skiing, from trail maps to tickets and information.
Gunstock Recreation Area Nordic Center
Enjoy the winter weather on this extensive cross-country trail network. An Olympic coaching staff is available to train skiers and ski jumpers.
Wakefield is the epicenter of bike trails for the lake region, with six bicycle-friendly trails that range in length from 11 miles to 52.
Stop by the Town Hall, 2 High Street in Sanbornville, for a bicycle tour booklet.
THE LAKE WINNIPESAUKEE STORY
The storied history of the largest lake in New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee is almost as old as time itself, carved during the last glacial period around 50,000 years ago. It’s been a resort destination since the mid-1700s, but its lore dates back centuries and begins, as many stories do, with love.
As the legend goes, a great Native American chief named Wonaton lived on the lake’s northern shores and was well-respected for both his bravery in battle and his beautiful daughter, Mineola. She had many suitors but refused them all, until one day, a young chief named Adiwando, who hailed from a hostile tribe to the south, paddled fearlessly across the lake and walked into her village — one full of his enemies — to meet her.
Impressed with his bravery, Mineola’s tribe did not harm him, and the two fell madly in love. But Wonaton was angry to learn that an enemy had sought the hand of his daughter and raised his tomahawk to kill the young chief. Mineola rushed in between them, begging her father to spare the life of her love, and eventually the two were allowed to marry.
After the wedding ceremony, the entire tribe accompanied the newlyweds in canoes as they rowed across the lake, but the sky turned black. As they were about to turn back and leave the couple, the sun came out and the waters around Mineola and Adiwando began to sparkle. Chief Wonaton saw this as a good omen and named the lake Winnipesaukee, meaning “The Smile of the Great Spirit.”