Stonedam Island, New Hampshire
While most of Lake Winnipesaukee’s shoreline is privately owned and off-limits to the public, a notable exception is Stonedam Island, in the northern portion of the lake. The 112-acre island is one of 5 properties on Winnie owned and managed by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. It was donated to the Trust by a local family, which still owns and maintains a camp on the southeastern portion of the island.
The public can access Stonedam via a dock at its northeast tip, just south of Sally’s Gut. The dock is suitable for power and sailing vessels up to 30’, while paddlers and PWC riders are requested to beach their vessels on the nearby shore. An information kiosk containing a trail map of the island is near the dock.
On shore, you’ll find easy walking trails that wind through the island’s forested interior, which features a mix of hardwood, pine and hemlock stands. The island once served as an important Algonquin canoe-building camp, and visitors may stumble upon the flat glacial erratic boulder once used to melt pitch for sealing the seams on birch bark canoes.
Other features of interest include a sandy beach on the island’s western shore (complete with picnic table) that makes for a delightful swimming and picnic spot. Close to the dock is a historic cabin from the early 1800s that was transported to the island from Alton, and is now used for educational events. In the center of the island, near its summit, is a vernal pool that serves as important habitat for frogs and salamanders. And speaking of wildlife, Stonedam is a known for its exceptional birding, especially in the spring and fall migration periods.
The closest launching point for paddlers is Cattle Landing, at the end of Meredith Neck Road. From here, it’s a roughly 30-45 minute paddle to reach the island, although close attention must be paid to the weather. The paddle is recommended for intermediate to advanced paddlers only. Another, longer route starts at Pinnacle Park, also in Meredith.
For more information on Stonedam Island and the other Conservation Trust properties on Lake Winnipesaukee, visit their website. You can also order paddling and trail maps via the organization.