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In 1793 a group of Shakers arrived at the valley between Mount Assurance and Mascoma Lake and declared it the "Chosen Vale." They settled on the shores of the lake and built the ninth of the original Shaker communities. Today, the Shakers have gone, but the beautiful valley with its clean, clear water remains, drawing visitors to enjoy the western New Hampshire lake. Mascoma Lake, located in the Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee region, is a fantastic place to boat, sail, fish, and enjoy the natural beauty of the "Chosen Vale."
Extending four and a quarter miles long and slightly over half a mile wide, Mascoma Lake covers 1,114 acres in Grafton County. It has a maximum depth of 68 feet and an average depth of 30 feet. The Knox and Mascoma Rivers make up the lake's primary inflow. The Mascoma River is Mascoma Lake's primary outflow, and a dam on the north end of the lake controls water levels. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services regulates the water levels on the lake. Water levels are drawn down three feet after Columbus Day each year, refilling to full pool level by June first.
The New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game stocks Mascoma Lake with trout. The lake contains healthy populations of rainbow trout, carp, yellow perch, white perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and black crappie. In the winter, the lake freezes and anglers can ice fish. Access to the lake is from a boat ramp at the north end of the lake. Mascoma Lake is a popular recreation lake with room for boating, sailing and water skiing, and there are three small islands in the lake to explore by canoe or kayak. The Dartmouth College sailing club and canoe club uses Mascoma Lake and the Mascoma River to practice for events. The town of Enfield maintains a public beach on the lake for swimming.
Mascoma Lake touches the city of Lebanon and is in the town of Enfield. The town was chartered by Benning Wentworth, the Royal Governor of the Province of New Hampshire in 1761. The Shakers arrived three decades later and built a village on the western shore of Mascoma Lake. At its peak the Shaker community had approximately 300 members practicing celibacy, equality of the sexes, and pacifism. By 1850, they were farming about 3,000 acres around the lake. They stayed in the village until 1923 when they sold it to the LaSalettes, an order of Catholic priests who occupied the community until 1985. Today, the Great Stone Dwelling, the largest Shaker dwelling house ever built, is the home of the Enfield Shaker Museum. Visitors can spend the day exploring the Shaker's way of life through their furniture, tools and clothing or wander through the herb and flower gardens. Hiking to the top of Shaker Feast Ground offers visitors spectacular views of Mascoma Lake and the village on its shore.
To the south of Mascoma Lake, the Enfield Wildlife Management Area (WMA) covers 3,062 acres in Grafton and Sullivan Counties. The WMA is made up of forests scattered with ponds and is home to moose, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, black bear and wild turkey. Both the wildlife area and Mascoma Lake are home to a variety of waterfowl.
Vacation rentals and cottages dot the shores of Mascoma Lake, and there is real estate available for sale. Whether it is for a weekend or for a more permanent stay, Mascoma Lake is a fantastic destination in the Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee region. It still has the natural beauty and clean clear fish-filled water that made it the Shaker's "Chosen Vale" and is sure to charm visitors for years to come.
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