Launch site on Squam Lake?

Where are the good launch sites on Squam in NH?

Metcalf Road, west shore
Avoid the state boat ramp in summer. First, unbelievably, kayakers can launch there but they are not allowed to park in the parking lot, they have to park in town. Reason: motor boaters paid for the ramp. I think that’s outrageous, but it’s an awful place to launch anyway, so much motor boat traffic.

You can pay $5 to launch at the Squam Lake Association. But the Metcalf Road launch is very nice and gives you access to several attractive coves and a couple of beaches. There is room for 4-6 cars there. I’ve never not been able to get a parking spot there. You park right next to the launch, very convenient.

Yup. Metcalf Road off 113 is a nice launch. It’s near the trailhead for East Rattlesnake. The parking and trailheads for West Rattlesnake and Morgan/Percival are just up the road.

People occasionally launch at the tip of Dog Cove off Dane road in Center Harbor.

The SLA does good work, so I don’t mind paying the parking fee if I want to start at that side of the lake.

Campsite fees!
Yikes! I would love to head over there in Oct. only 90 min from home. But solo …the fees are way too much for me.

Goodness - your’re right.

– Last Updated: Sep-16-13 6:22 AM EST –

$60 per night. Unheard of. Guess they aren't aiming at common folk. Wine and cheese crowd. I wonder if they have room service and high speed internet? Maybe a hot tub?

It is an hour and a half for me too. From the other direction. It is a lovely spot. We think of it as a good place to paddle for the day, catch some dinner, and head home. EDIT - By "catch some dinner" I mean - "find a decent restaurant".

Can you give exact directions for the Dog Cove launch? I searched for it but couldn’t find it. I read that it’s steep and muddy. Is that true?

I totally agree
Those fees are ridiculous. An example of how sometimes “protecting land for public use” ends up meaning it’s closed to a lot of people.

Plus there is no free kayak access to the southern end of Squam, and the northwest access is via private property, meaning the state has not kept to its promise to provide free acess. (I’m referring to the fact that kayakers are banned from the state parking lot. Does this absurdity exist in any other state?)

. . . but how pleasant is camping and paddling on a lake churned up by motorboats, anyway? Much better places to camp in Maine.

Lovely lake
My wife and I made it over to Squam yesterday for a lovely day of paddling. It was one of those spectacular September days in northern New England. We put in at Metcalf road which worked out very well. We noticed a throng of what looked like 15 to 20 sea kayaks stopping for lunch at a beach across Rattlesnake bay and respectfully kept our distance wondering why folks paddle in such large groups. I thought to myself that it is not unlike the buses we encountered traveling the roads this time of year full of people enjoying the gorgeous fall foliage. Squam is a very pretty lake. It appeared to me that in the last 20-30 years since I was last there it is gradually being over run by “one percenters” building gorgeous homes on its shores. I will say that in the area we paddled there has been a good job of limiting the tree cutting along the shore and so the lake has a nice feel to it and in some areas there is no development at all. But, this is not a lake to paddle if you are seeking a wilderness experience. Very nice for sure, but not a place I would seek out for a week, or even a night, of primitive camping and paddling. Great spot to go and paddle for a day and then enjoy a nice dinner in a local restaurant.

The SLA is a private organization run on donations. A lot of the SLA land was purchased. There was a huge push by developers to build up Squam right after “On Golden Pond” was filmed there, and the SLA played a big part in minimizing the effects on the lake.

Sometimes it takes money to fight money. I think the SLA does good work, and I don’t see anyone getting rich there.

Sure but . . .
those high camping fees mean that many people will never get to camp on Squam Lake. That doesn’t seem right to me, if the goal was to preserve the islands for public use.

Wilderness paddling
The so-called New Hampshire lakes region is almost completely built up with trophy homes. There is no longer any wilderness paddling in New Hampshire, especially where you can kayak or canoe camp, except for Umbagog, which doesn’t have the type of unfettered kayak camping that you find in Maine. It’s against the law to camp on Umbagog in the off season.

I agree with you on the large kayaking groups. It might have been the Seacoast Paddlers. I once showed up for their sponsored paddle on Squam Lake and was aghast at the number of paddlers.

Grafton Pond today was overrun with paddlers with no room to park. This is a case similar to Squam—the Society for the Protection of NH Forests owns most of Grafton Pond and prohibits camping. In both cases protection of lands has meant restricted use. Maybe this is what happens when a state doesn’t have an income tax—it doesn’t have any money to preserve lands so private organizations take over that task and then restrict use. In a small state like New Hampshire, that means no more wilderness paddling. That’s really sad and it means traveling long distances for wilderness paddling in Maine even though you’re surrounded by water in New Hampshire!