Newfound Lake draws a captive audience year after year. Its mystique is nothing new. Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, mentioned to me that when he was doing a high school project on Newfound Lake in the 1960’s, it was called one of the cleanest lakes in the country by National Geographic. Today, it is still considered to be one of the cleanest in the world.
Newfound is the 5th largest lake in New Hampshire. It encompasses 4,106 acres with 22 miles of shoreline and is fed by eight springs. It is about 7 miles long, 2 ½ miles wide, and is one of New Hampshire’s deepest lakes, dropping to depths of 183 feet deep. The lake is surrounded by the towns of Hebron, Bridgewater, Bristol, and Alexandria.
Newfound beaches are renowned for their soft white natural sand. The lake is framed by the White Mountains to the North and enveloped by stately forest. There is a quiet, country atmosphere about it. This old New Hampshire character is due to the small amount of commercial development along the shoreline. The homes on Newfound Lake are an eclectic mix of cabin colonies, upscale homes, condominiums, and cottages. In the summer, both motor boats and kayaks find a place on the lake. In the winter, the activities continue with snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Newfound and the connecting rivers are popular with fisherman for a catch of the perfect trout or salmon. The region is very accessible to travelers from Massachusetts and the rest of New England. Popular ski and recreation areas including Loon, Cannon, Waterville, Ragged, and Tenney are an easy drive. Many quaint eateries surround the lake. The Pasquaney Restaurant & Wild Hare Tavern offers a beautiful dining experience as you overlook the lake and enjoy the sunset. The Big Catch, Kathleen’s Cottage, Gilly’s Breakfast and Lunch, The Mill Fudge Factory, and Pat’s Seafood and Pizzeria are just a few of others in the Newfound Lake area.
Newfound’s reputation as one of the cleanest lakes is not just a matter of opinion. Its repute is backed by hard evidence. The NH Department of Environmental Services monitors New Hampshire lakes to ensure their water quality. One important parameter of quality utilizes a method of assigning water bodies a numerical value according to a designation of “Color”. The scale runs from “0” (clear) to “75” (tea colored). Newfound Lake is one of five in the state with a “0” designation, the others being Squam Lake, Merrymeeting Lake, Pleasant Lake, and parts of Lake Winnipesaukee. The DES also gives each lake a “Trophic Class.” This designation labels the lake according to water clarity, rooted plant growth, algae production, and bottom dissolved oxygen levels. Newfound Lake is designated “OLIGO,” which means there is minimal support for algal blooms and rooted plant growth. This is one of the contributing factors to the lake being milfoil free.
It’s no surprise that people have taken notice of Newfound Lake’s special attributes. This is another lake that draws the highest accolades from those who experience it. Yankee Magazine calls it the “most beautiful lake in New Hampshire.” On Tripadvisor® the reviews range from delighted to speechless. “The pictures didn’t do it justice,” said one commenter. One reviewer called it “the secret big lake in New Hampshire.” Another reviewer said, “Newfound lake is gorgeous, surrounded by mountain views…we kayaked into the sunset, it was awesome!” Almost every reviewer echoes the remark of a commenter from Bristol: “The water is so clean and clear you can not believe it” and another adds you “can still see the bottom in 8+ feet of water.” A couple who bought a home on the lake had this to say: “We bought our home up here after researching lakes in NH. Newfound, while not the largest, is so very clean and pristine. Living in the town of Hebron allows us to use the town beach which is only for taxpayers (and they do check). Great beach, small yet never a problem parking or finding a picnic table.” Chris H. from Boston wrote: “It’s the best place on earth…I almost lied and gave a bad review so no one else finds this amazing area.”
There are many ways to experience Newfound Lake. Wellington State Park in Bristol offers the largest freshwater swimming beach in New Hampshire’s State Park system. This pristine beach is surrounded by hiking trails and picnic areas. There are volleyball and horseshoe courts. The park’s peninsula nature trail has designated fishing areas, plant identification markers, and unbelievable views. Trails from the park give hikers access to the Sugarloafs, Goose Pond, Bear Mountain, Welton Falls, and Mt. Cardigan. The N.H. Fish & Game maintains a boat launch, which provides boaters free year-round access to Newfound Lake. The park was given to the State of New Hampshire for one dollar back in 1931. A summer visitor from New York City, Elizabeth R. Wellington, deeded the land to the state in memory of her father, Aaron, with the intent “to be forever kept as a public forest reservation, to be used for the development of a bird sanctuary, for public recreation…and for any purpose tending to the promotion of forestry.” Other parcels were later granted or purchased and added to the original reserve. The beach, picnic areas and original buildings at Wellington were created in the 1930’s by President Roosevelt’s post-war Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC).
The Newfound Audubon Center, located on the lake’s northern shore, is comprised of three wildlife sanctuaries: Paradise Point Nature Center, Ash Cottage at Hebron Marsh Sanctuary, and the Bear Mountain Sanctuary. Their trails are open year-round to hikers, bird watchers, Nordic skiers, and snowshoers. In the summer, the Nature Center offers interactive exhibits, canoe and kayak rentals, and programs for all ages.
During the first weekend in October, Newfound Lake plays host to the New Hampshire Marathon. This world class running event, which is a sanctioned qualifier for the Boston Marathon, offers events for all ages and abilities. The course takes in the amazing views around the lake during the peak of the fall foliage season. Other activities on and around the lake include the Granite Ledges Triathlon, Hebron Fair, Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival, foliage tours, auto racing on the ice during the winter months, and “Snodeo” (snowmobile races).
The pristine beauty and peaceful atmosphere provide an ideal setting for youth summer camps. These camps are considered special members of the Newfound Lake community since they are committed to protecting thousands of feet of shore frontage and hundreds of acres.
When visitors speak of the Lakes Region, the big lake, Winnipesaukee, usually comes to mind even though there are about 273 lakes, ponds, and rivers in the Lakes Region. But Newfound Lake will not be left behind. It has earned a reputation for its natural splendor and unspoiled waters. It has kept this reputation thanks to the efforts of local conservation groups, residents, and devoted visitors. Compared to old Winni, Newfound may be smaller in size. Still there is no question, there are those who love it. The secret may be out about the beauty of Newfound Lake, but its future is in good hands.
This article was written by Mary O’Neill.