Exploring the Islands of Winnipesaukee
At its core, owning a boat is about having the ability to leave the mainland and explore places that only a boat can take you. And few places in the Northeast offer boaters a better opportunity to do that than New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee.
Home to at least 253 islands, most of which are accessible only by boat, Lake Winnipesaukee is an ideal playground for boaters who love to explore. Islands range in size from several hundred acres down to tiny spots of land, and many are protected from development, offering boaters a great opportunity to enjoy scenic shorelines, search for wildlife and drop a hook at a secluded beach.
All around Lake Winnie are marine facilities to serve as the home base for your adventure. In Wolfeboro, the Goodhue and Hawkins Navy Yard (www.goodhueandhawkins.com;603-569-2371) is a full-service marina with a fuel dock, moorings and transient slips for boats under 22 feet. In Meredith, Y Landing Marina (www.ylanding.com;603-279-5050) offers slips and marine supplies. And near Weirs Beach, Fay’s Boat Yard (www.faysboatyard.com;877-671-0099) is another full-service marina with slips, fuel and a launch ramp.
One of the most popular islands to explore on Lake Winnipesaukee is Stonedam Island (www.lrct.org/stonedam.html) in Meredith. The island’s 112-acre wildlife preserve makes it one of the largest protected islands on the lake. It features a nature trail, great views, a historic log cabin and quiet beach. Boaters can access the island from a dock on a northeast cove.
Another scenic island in Meredith is Five Mile Island (www.lrct.org/5mldescr.html). The undeveloped island has more than 3,000 feet of wooded shores, and it has two natural beach areas and fantastic views of surrounding mountains and islands. The island is heavily forested and includes the remnants of a cabin foundation. Deer and loons are often sighted here.
In Alton, 368-acre Rattlesnake Island (www.rattlesnakeisland.net) features one of the region’s more impressive hikes — a steep climb up a 400-foot rocky peak with spectacular views of the area. Just south of Rattlesnake is Sleepers Island (www.sleepersisland.org), where the remnants of Hale’s Castle — a stone house built to look like the castles of Europe — stands on the shore. Boaters can then cruise east to nearby Blueberry Island in Wolfeboro. There, boaters can anchor off the island’s north side and enjoy the beach. Bring buckets with you if blueberries are in season, and keep an eye out for bald eagles, which have been seen nesting on the island.
Timber Island (www.timberisland.org) in Guilford is 136 acres, and all but 10 of those acres are protected by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (www.lrct.org) as unspoiled habitat and ecosystem. With more than 2.5 miles of undeveloped shoreline, the island has the longest stretch of protected shore remaining on the lake. As it is a refuge for wildlife, access to the island is restricted. But boaters are able to enjoy its scenic beauty from the water while looking for bald eagles, loons and otters.
To learn more about exploring Lake Winnipesaukee and its many islands, visit www.winnipesaukee.comor www.lakesregion.org.