September 23, 2019
Daytrip Destination: Stonedam Island, NH
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 five properties on “Winnie” owned and managed by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. It was purchased by the Trust using money raised during the group’s first-ever campaign. While the Trust manages most of the island, the southeastern portion remains privately held, and visitors are asked to stay outside the marked boundary.
The public can access Stonedam via a dock on the island’s northeast tip, just south of Sally’s Gut. The dock is suitable for vessels up to 25 feet, while paddlers are requested to beach their vessels on the nearby shore. An information kiosk containing trail maps of the island and other information is located a few steps from the dock.
On shore, you’ll find walking trails that wind through the island’s forested interior, which features a mix of beech, pine, and hemlock stands. The island once served as an important Algonquin canoe-building camp, and visitors may stumble upon the flat boulder once used to melt pitch for sealing the seams of birch bark canoes.
Other features of interest include a sandy beach on the island’s western shore (complete with table) that makes for a delightful swimming and picnicking spot. Close to the dock is a historic cabin from the early 1800’s 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- to 45-minute paddle to reach the island, although close attention must be paid to the weather, as the route takes you across open water. The trip is recommended for intermediate to advanced paddlers. 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.