Come to Squam Lakes and make
New Hampshire vacation memories
to last a lifetime

More than twenty years after the filming of the Hollywood movie, On Golden Pond, Squam Lakes are still considered some of the most pristine lakes in the New Hampshire lakes region. Located at the beginning of the White Mountains and near Lake Winnipesaukee, the Squam Lakes region consists of Big Squam Lake, Little Squam Lake, and White Oak Pond. Featuring a peaceful splendor visitors have come to appreciate and combined with an assortment of outdoor recreational activities within your reach, Squam Lakes are perfect for your next vacation.

Squam Lakes Offers The Best of New Hampshire Lodging, Dining, Shopping and Activities

The magnificent surroundings are only part of the charm of this part of the lakes region, which boasts a variety of New Hampshire lodging, dining, attractions and shopping for visitors to experience. Ideally situated in central New Hampshire, Squam Lakes are less than an hour away from most of New Hampshire’s family attractions. If you are a nature lover with a great appreciation for the outdoors, you will not be disappointed with the opportunities to explore the natural resources of Squam Lakes, by land or lake. Whatever the season, Squam Lakes are just a short drive away from all New Hampshire has to offer.

Visit Squam and experience the serenity and natural beauty of Golden Pond. Once you visit, you will want to make the Squam Lakes region the place you come back to year after year.

On Golden Pond

Twenty years ago, Hollywood went scouting for the perfect New England Lake to be the location for the classic movie, “On Golden Pond”. Of course, the lake had to be gorgeous, pristine and undeveloped. And, it had to be within two hours of a major metropolitan area. It was a tall order, but they found what they were looking for at Squam Lake. Today, it would still fit the bill.

- New England Travel & Life, 2001

Hollywood Comes to Squam Lakes

In 1981, Squam Lakes were transformed by the arrival of the Hollywood film crew to make the Academy Award winning film written by Ernest Thompson, On Golden Pond. Starring Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Dabney Coleman, and Doug McKeon, this film is a touching love story of Norman and Ethel Thayer as they return to their summer home on Golden Pond for the 44th year. The producers chose Squam Lakes as the perfect backdrop for the film and today visitors still come to see the sites where Hollywood left its marks.

On Golden Pond movie poster

As you pull into the town of Holderness, the marina looks much the same as when they filmed Katharine Hepburn’s scene to get the boat to rescue Norman and Billy on their ill-fated fishing trip. If you take a tour boat ride on Squam Lake, you will see the cottage where the movie was filmed along with Purgatory Cove. For movie lovers and the like, it is worth the trip.

On Golden Pond Lives On

Many of the businesses in the Squam Lakes area enjoy the benefits of being located where a movie had been filmed which is reflected in the names of the establishments. Walter’s Basin, The Inn on Golden Pond, The Manor on Golden Pond, Golden Pond Country Store to name a few. Squam Lakes is fortunate to have a community dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the area which is evident in the pristine quality Squam Lakes continues to possess.

Today, the Squam Lakes region is a favorite New Hampshire vacation destination. If you are coming to take in the sites of the movie or the natural beauty of the area, Squam Lakes will become your favorite New Hampshire vacation destination, too.

History of Squam Lake

Squam Lakes is known as one of the most peaceful and pristine in the country. The fog rises from the water early in the morning, loons fill the air with their haunting call.

- Conde Nast Magazine

Squam Lakes, located 40 miles north of Concord, are natural, spring-fed bodies of water consisting of a small and large lake connected by a channel. The Squam Lakes are not only rich in natural beauty but history as well. Squam Lakes’ earliest inhabitants were from the Abenaki nation of the Algonguin Federation of Indians.

Lake Overview
Photo Courtesy of Rick Frost
On the dock at sunset
Photo Courtesy of Rick Frost

Originally, they referred to Squam as Keeseenunknipee, which meant “the goose lake in the highlands”. The white settlers that followed shortened the name to Casumpa, Kusumpy and/or Kesumpe around 1779. In the early 1800’s, the lake was given another Abenaki name, Asquam, which means water. Finally, in the early 1900’s, Asquam was shortened to its present version, Squam.

Though the lakes’ name has seen many changes, the Squam Lakes area has seen relatively few. Despite being located only a couple of hours from major metropolitan areas, Squam has managed to maintain its pristine and undeveloped landscape.

The lack of transportation to the Squam Lakes at the turn of the century helped the area to stay relatively undeveloped. With the railroad stopping in Ashland, commercial activity remained limited directly around the lakes. Today, the interstate highway brings visitors into Ashland, where the center of commerce exists for the Squam Lakes area. Holding onto the history of the area, many camps on the lakes date back a century and discretely line the lush shoreline. Families have been coming for vacations for generations and many make the lakes their year round residence upon retirement.

While the islands on the lakes are part of its unique landscape, the coves are quiet and a perfect haven for nesting loons and other wildlife.

River Otter
July 4th Parade

Squam Lakes’ magnificence is matched only by the warmth and charm of the communities that surround it. The people who call Squam home year-round or once a year, are drawn to Squam Lakes not only for its physical beauty, but because it is a unique community committed to protecting a special place. The unique blend of small town values and distinct cultural opportunities make this an exceptional place to visit or live.

The unspoiled beauty of Squam Lakes is what continues to bring visitors here today. Once they are here, the region hosts a variety of activities for all seasons including hiking, camping, swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, golf, tennis, and mountain biking.

On the lake, natural and stocked fish include trout, bass, and salmon. For the less sports minded, there are a variety of wonderful restaurants and interesting shops in the area for visitors to experience. Whether your preference is a quaint inn, waterfront cottage, campground or cozy motel, the Squam Lakes area boasts a variety of unique lodging opportunities.

Most of New Hampshire's major attractions are less than an hour away making the Squam Lakes area an ideal location for day trips. The Squam Lakes region is home to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, which features four self-guided trails including the Gephart Trail with native New Hampshire wildlife in natural woodland enclosures. If you want to get onto the Squam Lakes and you don’t have your own vessel, tour boat companies offer guided tours of the lakes. Scenes from On Golden Pond including the location of the famous back flip by Jane Fonda into the lake or Katharine Hepburn running into the marina, are recognizable sites on the tours. In the spring, the annual ritual of tapping maple trees and boiling the sap into dark maple syrup abounds, while the fall sees Squam Lakes wrapped in the incredible colors of the New England foliage.

It is not by accident that the Squam Lakes area is in pristine condition, but due to the unique efforts of dedicated organizations and individuals, who believe that preserving the watershed is essential for the public’s enjoyment of this beautiful area. The natural beauty of the Squam Lakes area continues to bring visitors back year after year.

Boating On The Squam Lakes

The Squam Lakes consist of sixty-five miles of shoreline, thirty islands, thirteen reefs, twenty coves, and three bays. So that you can better enjoy your vacation to the Squam Lakes area below we have compiled basic information regarding Boat Access and Boating Regulations pertaining to the Squam Lakes.

Maps & Charts of Squam Lakes

Maps and charts of the Squam Lakes are available at the local marinas and
the Squam Lakes Association.

While enjoying the natural beauty of the Squam Lakes, please follow Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics and help us to preserve our area’s natural resources.

Boat Access to the Squam Lakes

Principal Access: In Holderness along the Squam River, across from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. From US Route 3 head north on NH-113, Launch area is on the right, parking is on the left. 24 Hour parking maximum. This access site was donated to the State of New Hampshire by the Squam Lakes Association.

Low Impact Boat Access for canoes, kayaks, sailboats and boats with 25-horse power or less, is located at the Squam Lakes Association Headquarters on US-3 in Holderness, 1.5 miles east of the bridge over the Squam River. Overnight parking is available. There is a $5.00 parking fee for non-members. Check in with the office or the Boat Rental staff.

Piper Cove

Canoe & Kayak Access to Dog Cove from NH 25-B at the Squam Lakes Association’s Belknap Woods property. Very limited parking and carry in is 200 feet.

Marinas: Launching and overnight parking at the west end of Little Squam at Squam Bridge Landing. Contact local marinas for launching information.

Boating Regulations

Safe Passage: You must operate your boat at headway speed (less than 6 mph) when you are within 150 feet of any person, place, or thing. Within most of the narrow channels and next to or between islands, it is not legal to pass or overtake another boat except at headway speed. Unfortunately, distances over water are hard to estimate, but to help emphasize the importance of this rule, SLA has placed markers at the entrance to the Squam River at the west end of Big Squam and at the west end of Little Squam. Use them to help sharpen your sense of distance. Observing this safe passage rule is more than a matter of safety; it is also a courtesy much appreciated by operators of small boats.

Right-of-Way: Boats approaching head-on should veer to the right. When two boats approach each other at an angle, the boat on the right has the right-of-way. However, powerboats must yield to all non-powered boats, including sailboats, windsurfers, rowboats, kayaks and canoes.

Lifejackets: Every boat must carry a wearable personal floatation device (Type I, II, or III) for each person on board, and children under 12 must wear theirs at all times. Boats 16 feet or longer must also carry one throwable Type IV PFD.

Speed: The maximum speed allowed for boats on the Squam Lakes is 40 mph in the daytime and 20 mph at night. Bean and Nichols coves are posted for 10 mph, and certain channels are posted as 'no-wake' areas.

Lights: From sundown to sunrise, every boat must display a white light visible in all directions. Powerboats must also display red and green running lights.

Water-skiing: A water-skier is considered to be 'part of the boat.' Thus, the skier must abide by the 150-foot safe passage rule described above. An observer (13 or older) is required in the tow boat, in addition to the driver, to monitor the skier. If you are towing two water-skiers, two observers are required. Skiers must wear approved life preservers. Anything towed by a boat (a tube or other inflatable, for example) is subject to all water-skiing rules. Water-skiing is prohibited in Rattlesnake and Squaw coves.

Personal Watercraft with a capacity of two persons or less are prohibited on the Squam Lakes.

Age: In New Hampshire, the operator of a boat over 25 horsepower must be at least 16 years old unless accompanied by an adult with a safe boating certificate.

Boating While Intoxicated: To operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense with equally serious consequences, including a fine or imprisonment, as well as loss of operating privileges for up to a year. There is also a fine for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test.

Other Requirements: Powerboats must carry a horn and a fire extinguisher, and gasoline must be carried in a Coast Guard-approved container. Boats with motors and sailboats or windsurfers 12 feet or longer must be registered in New Hampshire or another state.

Houseboats: Boats which have both sleeping and toilet facilities are prohibited on the Squam Lakes.

New Hampshire Boating Regulations: For the boating regulations from the State of New Hampshire, please click on:

Ashland, Holderness And Sandwich Communities
The Squam Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce services the towns of Ashland, Holderness and Sandwich. Listed below please find links to the three towns and information on relocating to the area.

Town of Ashland
20 Highland Street, Ashland, NH 03217
Town offices: 603-968-4432

Ashland is a small rural community in the geographical center of the State of New Hampshire. With a quaint downtown offering a variety of shopping from groceries, hardware, lumber, local artisans, florists, restaurants, lodging and more, you are able to find everything you need right in Ashland. Located between the Lakes and Mountain Region of the state, Ashland is a gateway to the Squam Lakes.

Ashland Covered Bridge


Town of Holderness

Rt. 3, P.O. Box 203, Holderness, NH 03245
Town Offices: 603-968-7536

Holderness is a small and largely rural town nestled between the foothills of the White Mountains and the shores of the Squam Lakes. Visitors and residents are drawn to the town for it’s natural beauty of the lakes and mountains which provides a high quality of living. With Holderness School and Plymouth State University located in Holderness and Plymouth, this town along with the other surrounding towns offers excellent educational, cultural, and commercial assets as well.

Holderness Town Hall


Town of Sandwich
P.O. Box 194, Center Sandwich, NH 03227
Town Offices: 603-284-7701

Located in the spectacular Sandwich Mountain Range, boasting seventeen peaks and bordering the shores of Squam Lake, Sandwich is a picturesque New England town with colonial and Federal style homes lining the streets. Known for it’s reputation for fine crafts, Sandwich is home to many talented artisans, who create their original works in their home workshops. Hosting many annual festivals including the famous Sandwich Fair, this quiet town offers residents and visitors a quality of living that brings you back to another time.

Sandwich Town Hall
Sandwich Central School
Squam Lake Road, Center Sandwich


Central New Hampshire Associations & Schools
Ashland Community Center
Community Center.
Highland Street
Ashland NH 03217
Ashland Garden Club
Local volunteer garden club.

Ashland NH 03217
Ashland Historical Society
P.O. Box 175
Ashland NH 03217
Ashland Town Library
Main Street
Ashland NH 03217
Center Harbor Congregational Church
Congregational church on Main Street in Center Harbor.
PO Box 229
Center Harbor NH 03226
(603) 253-8668
Center Harbor Congregational Church
Congregational Church on Main Street in Center Harbor.
PO Box 229
Center Harbor NH 03226
Holderness Free Library
Route 3
Holderness NH 03245
Holderness Historical Society
Route 3, Curry Place
Holderness NH 03245
Holderness School
Holderness School is a traditional co-ed independent school with an enrollment of 270 and nationally recognized programs in academic excellence, student leadership, community service, the arts, snow sports and the outdoors.
Chapel Lane
PO Box 1879
Plymouth NH 03264
Sandwich Children's Center
Year-round child care and preschool - 6 weeks -12 years.
54 Maple Street
Sandwich NH 03227
Sandwich Historical Society
P.O. Box 244
Center Sandwich NH 03227
Squam Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce serving the towns of Ashland, Holderness, Center Harbor, Moultonborough and Sandwich.
P.O. Box 665
Ashland NH 03217
Squam Lakes Association
The Squam Lakes Association is dedicated to conservation, education and outreach.
PO Box 204
534 US Route 3
Holderness NH 03245
Squam Lakes Conservation Society
Land trust serving the Squam Lakes watershed.
Route 3
Holderness NH 03245
Wentworth Library

Center Sandwich NH 03227
New Hampshire Covered Bridges In The Squam Lakes Region

Take a scenic drive through the Squam Lakes region and you will be able to visit a few of the impressive covered bridges in our area.

Squam Bridge
In Ashland, located off Route 3 at the end of Little Squam Lake is a 61-foot covered bridge built by Milton Graton in 1990. It crosses over the Squam River and features town lattice truss and a single lane with a walkway for pedestrians and bikers.

Smith Bridge
A bit off the beaten path from Squam Lakes, but well worth the trip is the Smith Bridge in Plymouth. Originally built in 1880, the first Smith Bridge was destroyed by arson in 1993. In 2000, Stanley Graton replaced the old Smith Bridge with the strongest covered bridge in the country. It crosses the Baker River and is ½ mile north of NH Route 3A, 2 ½ miles west of Plymouth Village.
Durgin Bridge
A magnificient scenic ride down Route 113 from Holderness will take you into Sandwich, where the Durgin Bridge is located. It was built in 1869 and crosses the Cold River. The bridge originally built by Hermon Marcy is 96 feet long and features Paddleford truss built by Jacob Berry. Repairs to the bridge have been performed by Milton Graton and his son, Arnold. The bridge is 1 ½ miles north of NH Route 113, 2 miles east of North Sandwich Village.

Summer on Squam is extraordinary. Warm summer days can be spent kayaking, fishing, swimming or boating on the lakes. On land, the Squam Mountain Range and surrounding areas offer great opportunities for hiking, biking or strolling through the shops. After enjoying the beautiful lakes, visit any of New Hampshire’s major attractions many of which are less than an hour away. The area boasts some challenging golf courses, public tennis courts and opportunities for nature watching that will please any visitor. Whatever your interest or sport, the Squam Lakes area can provide you with the place to enjoy it.

Fall on Squam brings an array of incredible colors as the New England foliage peaks and visitor enjoy this beautiful season. Tour boats offer fall foliage tours on the lakes providing visitors a chance to be surrounded by the remarkable colors of fall while enjoying the peacefulness of the lakes. Visitors can enjoy visiting the farm stands full of pumpkins and cornstalks. The Squam Mountain Range draped in color will set the scene for hiking, biking, strolling or any activity on any New England fall day.

In the winter, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or skating are wonderful ways to fill a snowy day. Take a snowshoe under the full moon up to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain or just around the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and enjoy the peaceful calm of winter. The lake transforms itself with a covering of ice and provides a great location for ice fishing and snowmobiling. A variety of ski areas are all within a 45-minute ride or less. Gunstock is within a 1/2 hour drive. Trails for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling or hiking make the Squam Lakes area the perfect spot for winter fun!

Photo Courtesy of Rick Frost

This is the perfect time for an off-season visit to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Squam Lakes and all the area has to offer. The ritual of tapping Maple trees and boiling the sap into dark maple syrup can be seen all around in the spring. Visit the farm stands and plan your garden. Visit Kirkwood Gardens as it begins to bloom for the season. Take advantage of off-season rates and visit Squam in spring.

No matter what the season, Squam has it all.

Trail Information
West Rattlesnake Mountain, Holderness
The most popular hike in the Squam Mountain range with spectacular views of Squam Lake. Just short of a mile to the summit. From Rt. 3 in Holderness, turn right on Rt. 113 and go approx. 2 miles. Look for sign for Rockywold Deephaven Camps on right. parking is ½ mile past sign on left. Rattlesnake trail is on opposite side of road.

Red Hill, Center Harbor
1.7 miles to the summit, which offers wonderful lake views of Squam and Winnipesaukee

Mount Morgan, Sandwich
1.5 miles to the summit, which connects to Mount Webster and Mount Percival

Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest, Center Harbor
Located just off Rt. 3 in Center Harbor, offering a short walk to Big Squam Lake.

Trail Guides are available for purchase at many area businesses, lodgings, marinas or the Squam Lakes Association.

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