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Beautiful Merrymeeting Lake in the town of New Durham, New Hampshire was formed by an impoundment on the Merrymeeting River in 1923. At normal water level, the lake covers 1,233 acres and has a maximum depth of 120 feet. Although most of the land around the lake has been developed, a town beach and boat launch area grant visitors access to the crystal clear water. The lake is well stocked with fish and is known as one of the best lakes in New Hampshire for salmon, trout and bass fishing.
Merrymeeting Lake's main purpose is recreation for residents and visitors. Swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, motor boating, snowmobiling, ice skating, fishing, and ice fishing are popular pastimes on the water. Waterskiing is prohibited in the Elly Cove area and in designated salmon and lake trout stocking areas. A beautiful dam on the western end of the lake is used to regulate the lake's water level. In the fall, the water level is lowered via the dam. In the spring, snow melt and rainfall quickly restore the lake to its normal level.
In the 1980s, most structures along the shoreline of Merrymeeting Lake were modest summer homes on large wooded lots. As land in the area became desirable, the small summer homes were replaced by sprawling, higher-end residences. Today, only a few sections of the nearly 11 miles of shoreline remain undeveloped.
Merrymeeting Lake's irregular hourglass shape makes it easy to navigate. North Shore Road and South Shore Road begin at the dam and follow the shoreline for nearly three miles. Street numbers visible from the water indicate how many miles you are from the dam. North Shore Road and South Shore Road, which almost encircle the lake, are maintained year-round for the few permanent residents of the lake. Most properties on the lake are second homes, and in the winter, the lake population decreases dramatically. A small marina, cottage rental community, and seasonal country store are the only commercial developments on the lake. The western side of Sawtooth Cove, where the land is extremely steep, and the far eastern shore of the lake, which is not easily accessible by road, are the only untouched sections of the lake.
Boating and fishing are the main activities on Merrymeeting Lake. The deep, cold water allows for a variety of game species to thrive. Brook trout, brown trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, whitefish and landlocked salmon are the more popular fish in the lake with anglers. Warm water fish include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, pickerel, horned pout, white perch, yellow perch, crappie and bluegill. The Powder Mill Fish Hatchery, located just below the lake's outlet, helps maintain the quality and quantity of fish in Merrymeeting Lake and other bodies of water throughout New Hampshire. The outlet of the lake is also a popular spot for fly fishing.
Year-round real estate and summer vacation rentals are numerous around Merrymeeting Lake and in the town of New Durham. The natural splendor of the mountains and lakes attracts many visitors and seasonal residents. Although mostly a summer retreat, winters draw tourists looking for a quiet location to enjoy winter sports. Unlike the shoreline of Merrymeeting Lake, most of New Durham and Strafford County is rather rural and perfect for snowmobiling, skiing, hiking, golfing, mountain biking and a full host of outdoor activities. Biking, hiking, and snowmobiling trails crisscross the area, making New Durham a prime spot for nature enthusiasts.
Those looking for a larger body of water with less development will find Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, just northwest of Merrymeeting Lake. The spectacular lake contains 253 islands, large sandy swimming beaches, and unlimited water-related and outdoor activities. Along with the rest of New Hampshire's Lakes Region, which also encompasses Lake Winnisquam, Squam Lake and Newfound Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee has been a vacation destination for over a century, drawing people from the Boston and New York City region. Numerous hiking trails can be found in and around the surrounding mountains.
No matter what time of year you visit, you are sure to discover the sights, sounds and fragrances which make Merrymeeting Lake and the surrounding Lakes Region unique. The countryside offers spectacular vistas, but foliage colors make for especially gorgeous drives in the fall. New England is well known for its covered bridges, and more than 50 covered bridges can be found in New Hampshire's Lakes Region. Whether you're on vacation or searching for the perfect summer home, a trip to Merrymeeting Lake is a great way to discover the region's spectacular scenery.
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