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If there's one lake in central New Hampshire whose origin is mired in historical heartache, it's Lake Winona. This private 148-acre freshwater lake, once inhabited by Native Americans, now houses a small number of residents and visitors who come to enjoy the state's Lakes Tourism Region. Like many of the surrounding lakes, Lake Winona offers a bit of modern tourism, from fishing to boating, alongside a history deeply rooted in a northern paradise.
The legend of Lake Winona tells of a young Native American princess named Winona, who spent many evenings on a nearby ledge overlooking the lake, watching the moon rise high into the evening sky. It was during one of these nights she was taken prisoner by a warrior from the nearby Waukewan tribe. After months of being held captive, Winona escaped her enemies by racing across the still-frozen Lake Winona, drowning when the ice broke beneath her. A stone pestle, which was created in honor of the Native Americans who once inhabited the area, now resides at a local bank.
Lake Winona's water is part of a watershed which connects to the state's largest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee. Water exits Winona's southern shore into the Snake River, flowing into Lake Waukewan and then into one of Lake Winnipesaukee's northwestern bays. A dam on Lake Waukewan controls the water levels at Snake River and Lake Winona. Lake Winona has an average depth of 10 feet, a maximum depth of 40 feet, and a shoreline length of three miles.
The New Hampshire Fish & Game Department stocks rainbow trout annually in Lake Winona, while other species, such as smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, perch and smelt, dart beneath the depths. Motor boats are allowed on the lake, though skicrafts are not allowed.
Despite its diminutive size, Lake Winona residents are allowed to sail, water ski, wakeboard and tube across the lake's shimmering surface during the warm summer months. The Lake Winona Improvement Association cautions boaters to stay 150 feet away from shore and other boaters, as well as to not overcrowd the lake with too many skiers and tubers at one time. For a more relaxing jaunt along the lake's shoreline, slip into a canoe or kayak and paddle along the lake's two small islands and keep a keen eye out for loon nesting areas. During winter, bundle up for a bit of ice fishing on the lake.
The towns of New Hampton and Meredith are minutes from Lake Winona. Talk to locals in New Hampton, and keep your eye out for many available lakeside real estate opportunities. For a bit more social excitement, walk around Meredith and peek your head into shops offering anything from antiques to local cuisine. Golfing is available during the warmer months, while downhill skiing and snowboarding are just as close during the winter months.
To get even further away from civilization, the border of the White Mountain National Forest is less than a 30-minute drive away from the shoreline of Lake Winona. In this national forest visitors will find plentiful camping spots deep beneath the canopy of trees, miles of winding hiking and mountain biking trails, along with wildlife and plant life to keep the inquisitive visitor busy for weeks. Keep your eyes open and your feet stealthy and you may happen upon moose, bear or deer any time of the year. Don't forget to pack your snowshoeing gear in the winter for miles of beautiful trails.
Lake Winona is a perfect destination for any time of the year. The lake's waters are easily explored by boat or canoe, and its shoreline can be examined with a quick hike into the woods. Don't let anything stop you from visiting this piece of paradise soon. Lakeside vacation rentals await your visit.
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