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Stinson Lake, which once housed the laughter of summer camp children, now shines as a quiet residential retreat in central New Hampshire. A refreshingly clear freshwater lake set entirely within the lower southwestern section of the White Mountain National Forest, this 350-acre lake has its share of secret coves and sandy beaches following the length of its shoreline. Anglers come for fishing, others for snorkeling -- all come for its year-round enjoyment.
Stinson Lake owes its strikingly translucent waters to its origins, which is the result of glacial deposits many years ago. This clean, clear lake provides visibility up to 25 feet below the shimmering surface. While the lake is used for recreational purposes, a dam, owned by the New Hampshire Water Division and located along the southwestern shoreline, was built in 1955 and controls the lake's water levels.
Anglers visit Stinson Lake year round. When the warmth of summer gives way to the briskness of winter, ice fishing takes center stage on the lake. The lake has an average depth of 35 feet and a maximum depth of 77 feet, with a surprisingly healthy population of fish beneath the surface. Anglers, who are able to stock up at the local marina and access the lake along its western shoreline, will find their line snagging brook trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel and brown bullhead in no time.
While children visiting from near and far once splashed about in its waters, Stinson Lake now is a quiet community made up mostly of private lake houses, with plenty of vacation rentals and real estate opportunities. Visitors will see windsurfing, sailing, water skiing and wakeboarding atop the lake's surface. Rent a kayak or canoe for the day and explore some of the lake's shoreline. No skicrafts, such as jetskis, are allowed on the lake.
Activities surrounding Stinson Lake abound. Hikers need look no further than 2,900-foot Stinson Mountain, whose peak looks out over the lake. Mountain bikers, passing through pine trees, white birch and colorful sugar maples, will find easy to difficult terrain in both the warm and cooler months. Hiking trails eventually turn to snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails in the winter months when soft snow blankets the area.
Part of Stinson Lake's appeal is due to its location, which is set entirely within the White Mountain National Forest. Over 800,000 acres spread out across New Hampshire and parts of western Maine, where visits enjoy anything from camping beneath a canopy of trees to skiing down alpine slopes. Wildlife moves throughout the area, where white tail deer, ruffed grouse and moose can be seen on occasion. Nearly 200 bird species flit about for inspection for any serious birders on the prowl.
A 10-minute drive directly south of Stinson Lake is the town of Rumney in Grafton County. Spend a day canoeing or tubing down the Pemi River, which twists and turns alongside the small town. The area is well known for more than a few spots to go rock climbing, most of which are located in and around Rattlesnake Mountain. Settle in for a small town dinner and wander the downtown area before heading back to a lakeside vacation rental at Stinson Lake.
Wherever your interests lie, Stinson Lake remains a unique retreat for those with a love for the outdoors. Take a dive into the crystalline waters and see for yourself why kids of all ages continue to enjoy this lake today.
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