Lake Winnipesaukee


Lake Winnipesaukee

Town(s): Alton NH, Center Harbor NH, Gilford NH, Laconia NH, Meredith NH, Moultonborough NH, Tuftonboro NH, Wolfeboro NH
County: Belknap, Carroll

Size: 44586 acres
Average Depth: 49 feet
Maximum Depth: 170 feet

Boating Allowed: Kayaks, Canoes, Sail Boats, Electric Motor Boats, Power Boats, Jet-skis, State & Local Rules & Regulations Apply
Boating Comments: See NH State Laws.
Swimming: Swimming Allowed, No Restrictions

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Lake Winnipesaukee is by far the largest lake in the entire state of New Hampshire. With a staggering surface area of 44,586 acres, it’s no surprise that the lake spills over into two of the state’s counties – Belknap County and Carroll County. Sailing is a year-round activity at Lake Winnipesaukee as boaters navigate the 365 islands that dot the lake’s surface. Additionally, swimming is also popular for visitors to the lake, especially during the summer months. You won’t have to worry about finding a spot to enjoy the sun and water either, as the beach’s 240-mile shoreline has several beaches open to the public. Ellacoya State Park, which sits on the lake’s western shoreline, is great place to park your RV if you plan to camp in luxury.

Lake Winnipesaukee is not only New Hampshire’s largest lake but also the dramatic centerpiece of the state’s famous Lakes Region. With the southernmost stretch of the White Mountains serving as a stunning backdrop, Winnipesaukee and its eight inviting towns have long been a popular year-round destination for visitors from all over the world. This glacial lake’s 72-square-mile sprawl encompasses 264 islands and several large bays and small inlets, plus a wide-open area of water known as the Broads. It’s the ideal setting for boating and outdoor recreation in the spring and summer, leaf peeping in the fall, and ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter. Plus, the surrounding communities are filled with plenty of fun things to do, great places to eat, and cozy places to stay. 

Visitors may explore the numerous villages on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee by boat or by car. Each one offers something unique. Weirs Beach has arcades and boardwalks, waterslides, a public beach and an activity center. Meredith is a restored mill village, where you can browse through antique, art and craft galleries. Wolfeboro is a picture perfect village, right down to its historic Main Street. Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, Alton, Gilford and Laconia all have their own special flavor. All communities have public parks and docks, and feature varied activities such as fireworks displays and band concerts throughout the year.

Public Boat Launches

Lake Winnipesuakee offers visitors four seasons of vacation fun! Launch your boat at one of the many launch sites on the Lake. Whatever your choice of craft, Winipesuakee has 72 square miles to explore. If you don’t own a boat, you can rent one, charter one or take a cruise on one of the many excursion boats on the “Big Lake”. In the winter months when temperatures dip, families still enjoy the lakes. Ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, cross country skiing or ice boating provide great family recreation.


Alton Alton Bay Public Launch About 1/4 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.
Alton Downing’s Landing Just east of the Route 11 bridge. Parking fee charged (Includes launch).
Alton West Alton Marina At the junction of Route 11 and Route 11-A. Fee charged (Includes parking).
Alton Roberts Cove Marina From the Alton traffic circle, proceed 5 1/2 miles towards Wolfeboro on Rte 28.Turn left onto Roberts Cove Road. Fee charged.
Center Harbor Public Docks In town behind Heath’s Hardware Store adjacent to town docks. Fee charged. Short walk to parking.
Gilford Ames Farm Inn Route 11, 2.2 miles west of Route 11-A. Southwest of Diamond Island. Two launch ramps. Fee charged (Includes parking).
Gilford Fay’s Boat Yard From Jct. 11/11B, east on route 11 for .1 mile. Turn left onto Varney Point Road. Fee charged.
Gilford Gator, Inc., Silver Sands Marina On Route 11B, 1/2 mile northwest of junction 11B/11. Fee charged (Parking included).
Laconia (Downtown) Public Launch Downtown – off Water Street, Laconia NH
Laconia/Weirs Christmas Island Weirs Boulevard, 1 1/4 miles south of the Weirs Bridge on the east side of Paugus Bay. Fee charged.
Laconia/Weirs Lakeport Landing Marina Southern end of Paugus Bay at the Junction of Elm Street and Union Avenue. Fee charged.
Meredith Public Docks, Route 3 Route 3 at the public parking lot between the Mount Washington dock and Heskey Park. Fee charged. Parking for trailers is nearby.
Meredith Public Docks, 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 3 miles and turn left onto Lovejoy Sands Road. Launch is next to Shep Brown’s Boat Basin. No fee charged. Parking available.
Meredith Meredith Marina 2 Bay Shore Drive. Just off Route 3 on the right between Route 104 and Route 25. Fee charged.
Moultonborough Harilla Landing, Long Island From Route 25 and Moultonboro Neck Road, proceed 6 2/10 miles south/east on Moultonboro Neck Road and cross onto Long Island. After crossing bridge, proceed 2 2/10 miles on Long Island Road.
Moultonborough Public Launch Turn right onto Moultonboro Neck Road from Route 25. Proceed 6 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 & dump sticker.
Moultonborough Lee’s Mills 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.
Moultonborough States Landing From the intersection of Route 109 and Route 25 (at the Moultonborough Airport), proceed south/east on Route 109 for 2 8/10 miles and turn right onto States Landing Road. Follow States Landing Road 1 mile.
Tuftonboro Melvin Village Public Landing Off Route 109. No fee charged.
Wolfeboro Libby Museum Opposite the Libby Museum on Route 109, 3 1/10 miles northwest of Wolfeboro. No fee charged. No parking.
Wolfeboro Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard Sewell Road, Wolfeboro. From downtown Wolfeboro, head west on Route 109 for 2/10 mile. Turn left onto Sewell Road and proceed for 1 mile.
Wolfeboro Back Bay Marina Bay Street, Wolfeboro.
Wolfeboro Public Launch Back Bay. 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).
Wolfeboro Public Launch Main Street. In the public parking lot behind shops, next to Wolfeboro town docks. No fee charged.

Public Beaches

Alton Town Beaches – Alton Small Swimming Beach -Restrooms, parking. No admission fee. Rt 28A on Alton Bay. No lifeguard on duty. Swim Dock on Rt 11 next to town docks. No admission fee. Lifeguard on duty.

Brewster Beach – Wolfeboro Rt 28, (South of downtown), to Clark Rd (across from Huggins Hospital). Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee. No fee. Restrooms, swimming, picnicking.

Carry Beach – Wolfeboro Public beach on Lake Winnipesaukee. Rt 28 (north of downtown) to Forest Rd. Swimming, picnicking, restrooms.

Ellacoya State Park – Gilford 600-ft. sandy beach on southwest shore of Lake Winnipesaukee; RV park with 38 campsites. Call (603) 271-3628 to make a reservation. Swimming, picnicking, store, bathhouse. Route 11, Gilford, 03249

Leavitt Park – Meredith Swimming, picnicking. No fee. Small playground area. From Rt 25/Rt3 intersection in center of town, take Rt 25 North to Leavitt Rd.

New Hampshire State Parks – New Hampshire has 45 state parks, 14 natural areas/waysides and 10 historic sites. The parks offer a diverse use from camping to swimming to just enjoying the views.
Concord PO Box 1856, Concord, 03302-1856
(603) 271-3556

Weirs Beach Endicott Park- Weirs Beach Small public beach on the Weirs Beach Channel connecting Paugus Bay with the larger portion of Lake Winnipesaukee. Historic Endicott Rock – Surveyors commissioned by Royal Governor John Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony signed their initials in 1652. Great place for boat watching. Admission fee.
Rt 3, Weirs Beach – overlooking the town docks.
(603) 436-1552

19 Mile Bay Beach – Tuftonboro Swimming, picnicking. No fee. Portable toilets. No Lifeguard on Duty, parking.
Governor Wentworth Highway, Rt 109, Tuftonboro

20 Mile Bay Beach – Tuftonboro Swimming, picnicking. No fee. No Lifeguard on Duty, limited parking.
Governor Wentworth Highway, Rt 109, Tuftonboro

Melvin Village Warf – Melvin Village Swimming, No Lifeguard on Duty, no rest rooms, limited parking. Fee charged.
Governor Wentworth Highway, Route 109, Melvin Village at the Junction of Elm Street and Union Avenue.

Fishing the Big Lake

Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Lake Trout, Small/Largemouth Bass, Pickerel, Yellow/White Perch, Hornpout, Cusk, Smelt, Bluegill, 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 Winnipesaukee Stats

  • 504 Feet above Sea Level
  • Maximum Depth: 180 feet
  • Average Depth: 43 feet
  • Volume: 625 billion gallons
  • Length: Approximately 25 miles
  • Width: Approximately 15 miles at widest point
  • Water Surface: 72 square miles
  • Distance around the lake: 182 miles
  • Shoreline excluding islands: 178 miles
  • Islands: 244
  • Island shoreline: 100 1/2 miles

Lake Winnipesaukee Waterfront Towns

Meredith, Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Melvin Village, Tuftonboro, Wolfeboro, Alton, Alton Bay, Gilford, Laconia, Weirs Beach

Nature Preserves

Loon Preservation Center & Marcus Wildlife Sanctuary – Moultonborough Lees Mills Road 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 islands fragile ecosystem.

Stonedam Island – Meredith 112-acre wildlife preserve. Lakes Region Conservation Trust 603-279-3246.

The Lakes Region Conservation Trust provides public access for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and paddling to over 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. You can learn about these wonderful properties and more and find trail maps at

Major Events

  • Great Rotary Fishing Derby – Headquarters in Meredith February Sponsored by the Meredith Rotary Club.
  • Sled Dog Races – Sandwich Notch 60, Laconia, Meredith
  • Winni Derby going on its 25th year. Mid May, Sponsored by the Lakes Region Inland Fishing Association.
  • Laconia Rally & Race Week – June
  • Timberman Triathlon – Gilford
  • Lakes Region Arts & Crafts Festival – Meredith Juried show
  • Crafts Fairs – Alton, Wolfeboro
  • NASCAR – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • NH Open Water Ski Tournament – Back Bay Wolfeboro, Abenaki Water Ski Club USA Water Ski sanctioned.

Hiking Around Lake Winnipesaukee

Belknap Mountain – Gilford Turn of Route 11A at Gilford, drive south through Gilford Village, pass the high school, road makes a sharp left. And you will begin drive up Belknap Mountain Road to parking and trailhead. 1 1/2 miles, vertical rise 740 feet Magnificent views

Mt Major – Alton Bay. Route 11 A about five miles north of Alton Bay (close to Ellacoya State Beach) highway sign marks parking lot. Popular hiking spot due to spectacular views. 2 1/2 mile, vertical rise 100 feet.

Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest – 157 acre forest with over a mile of waterfront, several beaches, swamp walk, over 4 miles of hiking trails managed by the Squam Lakes Association- Trailhead off College Road, Center Harbor

West Rattlesnake Mountain – Rt. 113 Holderness –– Trailheads off Rt. 113- approx. 5 miles from downtown Holderness on right, (after Rockywold Deephaven Camps sign) park on left. Short and Easy Climb, spectacular views. Use caution with children. Steep cliffs at summit.

Red Hill – Moultonborough (elevation 2,029 feet) Fire tower run by town of Moultonborough Fire Department. Bean Road in Center Harbor 1.4 miles to Shibley Road (fire tower sign) to parking lot with gated jeep road. Distance to tower 1.7 miles. Contact the Lakes Region Conservation Trust for a map 603-279-3246. Ossipee Mountains, Bald Peak – Tuftonboro. Trail access from Castle in the Clouds offering a variety of difficulty levels.

Gunstock Recreation Area – Gilford. Four season recreation area on Route 11 in Gilford. It includes a major downhill ski/tubing area on Mount Rowe and Gunstock Mountain, a 420-site campground, summer mountain Sports Park (skateboard, mountain board, mountain bike and a cross-country skiing area. A map of hiking and mountain biking trails is available at the Base Lodge).

Abenaki Tower – Wolfeboro Route 109 in Tuftonboro. A 5-minute walk from the parking area to an 80’ tower overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee Mountains.

Cotton Valley Trail – Wolfeboro to Sanbornville – A 12-mile railroad corridor stretching 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. Contact Wolfeboro Chamber for info 603-569-2200

Russell C. Chase Bridge Falls Path – behind the Railroad Station is a half-mile path from downtown to the Wolfeboro Falls Area.

State Parks & Beaches

Ellacoya State Park, Gilford

Cross Country Ski Trails

Wolfeboro Cross Country Ski Association WCCSA – Headquarters for trail maps, tickets and information is located at Nordic Skier, downtown Main Street. Hiking, biking, X-C ski trail networks. Gunstock Recreation Area, Hiking, biking , X-C ski trail network Gilford Ski, Snowshoe, bike, mountain board, mountain scooter rentals


Wakefield – A bicycle friendly Community Six loops ranging in length from 11 to 52 miles long. A bicycle tour booklet is available at the town hall.

Water Quality: No Known Issues, Town/State Monitoring
Vegetation Growth: Minimal
Non-native Species: Unknown

Fishing Comments: Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Lake Trout, Small/Largemouth Bass, Pickerel, Yellow/White Perch, Hornpout, Cusk, Smelt, Bluegill, 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)
Fish Species: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Salmon, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Black Crappie, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Channel Catfish, Brown Bullhead, Bluegill

Boat Access: Access for Power and Non-power Boats
Ramp Comments:
Parking Spaces: More than 40

Shoreline Development: 50-75%