Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, Ossipee Mountains, Moultonborough and Tuftonboro: The 5,381-acre Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area is the largest property conserved and stewarded by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. The property was purchased by LRCT for $5,900,000 in 2002 with the support of over 2,000 generous donors. The conserved land consists of 5,246 acres owned by LRCT and 135 acres encompassing the Castle buildings and grounds, which LRCT transferred to the Castle Preservation Society in 2010 and on which LRCT holds a conservation easement. The Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area provides extraordinary hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing opportunities on over 30 miles of trails and carriage roads. See the hike descriptions below and LRCT’s Hiking Trails Map for the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area for further information.
Mt. Shaw, Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, Ossipee Mountains, Moultonborough: Mt. Shaw (elevation 2,990 feet) is the highest point in the Lakes Region. Mt. Shaw has been a favorite climb for Lakes Region hikers for generations. Mt. Shaw can be ascended on trails lying entirely with LRCT’s conserved land. From LRCT’s Upper Trailhead Parking Area at the end of Ossipee Park Road, the hike begins at the Shannon Pond Kiosk and follows the Lower Bridle Path, the Faraway Mountain Trail, the Upper Bridle Path, the Oak Ridge Cutoff, and the High Ridge Trail. The summit of Mount Shaw provides spectacular mountain views north to the White Mountains and east across the Ossipee Ring Dike. From the High Ridge Trail below the Mt. Shaw summit, a side spur leads to Black Snout, which affords an expansive view of Lake Winnipesaukee and the hills and mountains to the west. You can either return to the Upper Trailhead Parking Area the way you came or via a number of other return loops shown on LRCT’s Hiking Trails Map for the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area. This is a challenging hike, with a total one-way distance of 4.6 miles and a total elevation gain of 1,450′.
Mt. Roberts, Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, Ossipee Mountains, Moultonborough: Mt. Roberts (elevation 2,570 feet) is considered by many LRCT members to be the finest “undiscovered” hike in the Lakes Region. From LRCT’s Upper Trailhead Parking Area at the end of Ossipee Park Road, bear left before Shannon Pond and along the side of a field before entering the woods. The trail climbs through the woods and along Roberts Ridge, where open ledgy spots provide grand views across Lake Winnipesaukee, and then continues through woods to the summit, which has spectacular views to the Sandwich and Presidential Ranges and other points north. The distance to the summit is 2.3 miles.
Bald Knob, Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, Ossipee Mountains, Tuftonboro and Moultonborough: Bald Knob (elevation 1,801 feet) is also a favorite hike for families, affording excellent views of Lake Winnipesaukee and beyond. Bald Knob is accessible from LRCT’s lower trailhead parking area on Route 171 east of the Castle in the Clouds main entrance, via the Shannon Brook Trail, the Bald Knob Cutoff Trail, and the Bald Knob Trail. The distance from the parking area to the summit is 2.3 miles.
Red Hill Conservation Area, Moultonborough: Red Hill (elevation 2,030 feet) has since the 19th century been noted for its panoramic views of Winnipesaukee, Squam, and the White Mountains and is today one of the major conservation landmarks in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. The summit and slopes of Red Hill are protected as part of LRCT’s 2,565-acre Red Hill Conservation Area, acquired in five conservation projects during the years 1996 to 2005. LRCT is proud to have joined with the Squam Lakes Association, the Squam Lakes Conservation Society, the Lake Kanasatka Association, faculty and students of Moultonborough schools, local scouts, and the Moultonborough Snowmobile Club, as well as many other local volunteers, to conserve and steward this area for thoughtful public access, wildlife habitat, and preservation of the natural and scenic heritage of the Lakes Region. The climb to the summit and its firetower via the Red Hill Trail is one of the most popular family hikes in the Lakes Region. The trail is accessible from Red Hill Road in Moultonborough and climbs through the woods up the west side of the mountain. The distance from the trailhead parking area to the summit is 1.7 miles. Red Hill can also be climbed from the east via the Sheridan Woods Trail, which leaves Sheridan Road and ascends to the ridge, with its views of Sandwich Dome and Mt. Israel. The distance from Sheridan Road to the ridge is 2.5 miles.
Eagle Cliff Conservation Easement, Sandwich: Eagle Cliff (elevation 1,270 feet) is a northern spur of Red Hill, within a 102-acre parcel protected by a conservation easement granted to LRCT in 1989. Ownership of the land was subsequently conveyed to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Eagle Cliff can be ascended via the Eagle Cliff Trail and affords excellent views north and west across Squam Lake and to the Squam Range. The trailhead is located on Squam Lake Road in Sandwich, 0.4 miles north of the Moultonborough-Sandwich town line, and the distance to Eagle Cliff is 0.6 miles.
Mt. Morgan and Mt. Percival, Squam Range, Burleigh Land LP Conservation Easement, Holderness and Campton: Mt. Morgan (elevation 2,220 feet) and Mt. Percival (elevation 2,212 feet) are among the most popular hiking destinations in the Lakes Region, affording spectacular views of natural landmarks in all directions, including Squam Lake, Red Hill, the Ossipees, the Sandwich Range, and the White Mountains. Substantial portions of the Mt. Morgan and Mt. Percival Trails, as well as their trailheads, are within the 2,471-acre Burleigh Land LP property protected by a conservation easement acquired by LRCT in 2007. Please appreciate the generosity of the landowners who have allowed hiking access for many years. Parking is available at the trailheads located 0.3 miles apart on Route 113 in Holderness, a short distance west of the Holderness-Sandwich town line. The distance from the Mt. Morgan trailhead to the summit is 2.1 miles; the distance from the Mt. Percival trailhead to the summit is 1.9 miles. A 4.8-mile loop can be hiked from one trailhead, up over both mountains via the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail, and back down to the other trailhead.
The Rattlesnakes, Pinehurst Conservation Easement, Holderness and Sandwich: West Rattlesnake (elevation 1,243 feet) and East Rattlesnake (elevation 1,297 feet) are landmarks between the northern side of Squam Lake and the Squam Range. They provide excellent views of the Lake with a relatively short hike. A conservation easement granted to LRCT permanently protects 173 acres of the Rattlesnakes, including substantial portions of their network of trails. Please appreciate the generosity of the landowners who have allowed hiking access for many years. The distance from Route 113, across from the Mt. Morgan parking area, to West Rattlesnake via the Old Bridle Path is 0.9 miles; the distance from West Rattlesnake to East Rattlesnake via the Ridge Trail is an additional 1.0 miles.
Cotton Mountain and Mt. Livermore, Burleigh Land LP Conservation Easement, Holderness: Cotton Mountain, elevation 1,210 feet, and Mt. Livermore, elevation 1,500 feet, are also popular hikes at the western end of the Squam Range. They afford excellent views of Squam Lake, Little Squam Lake, Red Hill, and points beyond. The summits and slopes of the mountains, the trailhead of the Cotton Mountain Trail, and substantial portions of the trails on these mountains are also within the LRCT’s 2,471-acre Burleigh Squam Range conservation easement. Again, please appreciate the generosity of the landowners who have allowed hiking access for many years. The Cotton Mountain Trail is accessed from Route 113, 1.1 miles north of Route 3, and the distance from the trailhead parking area to the southern spur viewpoint is 0.6 miles. Hikers can continue on from Cotton Mountain via the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail for a distance of 1.3 miles to the summit of Mt. Livermore.
Sewall Woods Conservation Area, Wolfeboro: LRCT’s Sewall Woods Conservation Area is a quiet and scenic 179-acre woodland located just a short distance from Main Street in the center of Wolfeboro. It encompasses four parcels of land acquired by LRCT through tremendous work and generosity of landowners, donors, and volunteers during the years 1998 to 2007.The property consists of the A. Denny McLean and Mary McLean McBride Forest, purchased in 1999; the Raymond Tuttle property, received as an extraordinary gift in 2000; the Munro property, purchased in 2003; and the Horn property, purchased in 2007. This land, for many years cultivated by local farmers, is now conserved in perpetuity and provides scenic forest and wildlife habitat, year-round trails and recreational opportunities, and a quiet place for nature observation, all within a short walk of downtown Wolfeboro. Its extensive trail system provides opportunities for low-impact recreational activities and nature observation and is linked with the Town’s Abenaki trail network, providing a total of over 18 miles of trails. The Sewall Woods parking area is located at the end of Clow Road off Pleasant Street.
Copple Crown Conservation Area, Brookfield: Copple Crown (elevation 1,868 feet) is a major landmark south of Lake Winnipesaukee. The summit and surrounding 732 acres of land were acquired by LRCT in 1995.The trail follows abandoned town roads and recent logging roads for two miles through hardwood forests. In the last half-mile, the trail climbs via a series of switchbacks up a steeper slope covered with patches of spruce, such as are common in the White Mountains to the north. Copple Crown provides excellent views north and west across Lakes Winnipesaukee and Wentworth to the Belknaps, Ossipees, Sandwich Range, and beyond, and views south toward the New Hampshire Seacoast. Trailhead parking is accessed from Moose Mountain Road off Governor’s Road, and the distance to the top of the mountain is 2.6 miles.
Knights Pond Conservation Area, Alton: Knights Pond is a pristine 31-acre body of water surrounded by 307 acres of conserved land, located close to the center of Wolfeboro, one of New Hampshire’s oldest and most popular centers of summer tourism. A trail encircles the pond and provides opportunities for peaceful walking and nature observation. The parking area is off Rines Road near the Alton-Wolfeboro town line east of Route 28,; the distance to and around the pond and back is 2.8 miles. The conserved lands surrounding Knights Pond consist of two parcels purchased by LRCT with the support of generous donors in 1989, a parcel protected by a conservation easement donated to LRCT in 1990, and two parcels protected by conservation easements acquired by the State of New Hampshire in 1990.
Homestead Forest Conservation Area, Ashland: In the mid-nineteenth century, this 604-acre property consisted of 13 separate lots. Miles of stonewalls and rusted wire fencing attest to an agricultural economy that has almost ceased to exist in central New Hampshire. In 1999, in an extraordinarily generous donation, the land was given to LRCT. From the trailhead kiosk, Lambert Road continues straight ahead for a mile, where it meets an abandoned road that used to connect Coxboro Road in Holderness and Leavitt Hill Road in Ashland. Scattered throughout the forest are cellar holes and foundations which identify the locations of four of five farms known to have existed in the 1800s. These structures bear witness to a tradition of homestead agriculture in rural New Hampshire and to the transition from fields back to forestland after these farms were abandoned. In the center of the Homestead Forest is a network of trails which pass old foundations, swamps, viewpoints, and caves. The total circuit of trails is almost 3 miles in length and involves a climb of 600 feet.
Center Harbor Woods, Center Harbor and Moultonborough: Center Harbor Woods is 224-acre scenic, natural, and recreational resource lying equidistant from Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake off Center Harbor Neck Road in Center Harbor. This land was conserved in 2010 through a unique collaboration of three conservation partners — LRCT, which owns the land, and the Squam Lakes Conservation Society (SLCS) and the Town of Center Harbor, which hold the conservation easement. Center Harbor Woods encompasses forests and wetlands providing significant wildlife habitat, where moose, bear, and deer are observed and where the four-toed salamander has been documented for the first time in central New Hampshire. The property contains a network of trails available for four-season use and enjoyment by all and provides a place where people of all ages can explore, appreciate, and learn from the natural world. Center Harbor Woods is contiguous to LRCT’s 121-acre Pine Hill Conservation Area and NH Audubon’s 47-acre Proctor Sanctuary; together these properties provide almost 400 acres of conservation land.
Pine Hill Conservation Area, Moultonborough: The Pine Hill Conservation Area is a 121-acre conservation parcel with significant wildlife habitat and recreational value lying off High Haith Road and Bean Road in Moultonborough. This property was acquired by LRCT in 2004, and is also subject to a conservation easement held by the Squam Lakes Conservation Society, making it one of numerous properties where LRCT and SLCS work in partnership to steward important conservation resources of the Lakes Region. Trails on th property provide opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, as well as connections to the trails on other conservation lands. Pine Hill is contiguous to LRCT’s 224-acre Center Harbor Woods, described above, which is in turn adjacent to NH Audubon’s 47-acre Proctor Sanctuary in Center Harbor; together these properties provide a network of trail on nearly 400 acres of conservation land.
Avis P. Smart Woods, Gilford: Avis P. Smart Woods is a 32-acre forest located a short distance from Gilford Village, donated to LRCT in 2004. The property was once farmland, and it includes a magnificent stand of sugar maples first tapped in the mid-1800’s. Today it provides habitat for a wide range of wildlife and opportunities for respectful recreation and nature observation. The protection of this property was made possible by the generosity of Avis and William Smart, who donated the land to LRCT in 2005 in order to preserve it for the benefit and enjoyment of generations to come. A loop trail of under a mile in length provides opportunities for peaceful walks and appreciation of nature. The trailhead is located on Watson Road, just west of Gunstock Hill Road.
Stonedam Island Conservation Area, Lake Winnipesaukee, Meredith: The Stonedam Island Conservation Area encompasses 112 acres of the island, with 2.7 miles of undeveloped shoreline, acquired by LRCT in 1982 to protect one of the most significant undeveloped island parcels on the Lake. Stonedam is a perfect place for a peaceful walk on a network of trails leading to points of interest all over the island, including one of the highest points on the Lake with a view of Copple Crown in clear weather. Docking for power boats is available at a dock on the northeast shore of the island. The island can also be accessed by paddle craft. A network of trails, which are signed and blazed, extends from the dock to points of interest elsewhere on the island, one of the highest in the lake. The loop around the island is 1.5 miles long.
Five Mile Island Conservation Area, Lake Winnipesaukee, Meredith: Five Mile Island, purchased by LRCT in 1999, offers nearly ten acres of forest and 3,300 feet of rocky shoreline for exploration. The best landing site for paddle craft is a small coarsely pebbled beach on the southeast side; there is no dock, so power boat operators should anchor and wade ashore. There are large rocks just beneath the surface on either side of a narrow channel as you approach the beach. LRCT’s kiosk marks the landing site and is easily visible from the water. A well-marked perimeter trail provides a comfortable hiking route around the island and reveals an interesting variety of vegetation including a small wetland.
Ragged Island Conservation Area, Lake Winnipesaukee, Tuftonboro: Ragged Island, acquired by LRCT in 2007, has nearly one mile of pristine shoreline and two sandy beaches for landing by paddle craft. There are two docks for power boat landing near the southern end of the island, and a nature trail follows the perimeter of the island. Sunrise Beach (on the east side) and Sunset Beach (on the west side) are two of the most popular places for swimming (depending on wind direction and time of day). A circumnavigation of the island passes numerous shallows and rock reefs and provides pleasant paddling past small nooks and coves with overhanging high bush blueberries in season. Ragged Island and surrounding waters have historically been loon territory; please remain at least 150 feet away from any loon or loon nest, or farther if a loon vocalizes or shows other signs of agitation. Little Ragged Island is directly to the east of the center of Ragged and is also part of the LRCT property but does not have a trail. Please note that Little Pine Tree Island, located just east of the docks, is private property. Do not go ashore here and please respect the property and privacy of the owners.
Blanchard Island Conservation Area, Lake Winnipesaukee, Moultonborough: Blanchard Island is a 2-acre undeveloped island located in the outer Green’s Basin area at the northernmost end of Winnipesaukee in Moultonborough and was purchased by LRCT in 2001. The island is covered with a mixture of northern hardwoods and softwoods and is accessible by canoe, kayak, or other boat from the Lee’s Mills public launch site, about one mile distant to the northeast. Views from the island include Red Hill, the Ossipee Mountains, and the Sandwich Range. The island has two small beaches, as well as a dock for visiting boaters, and more than 1,000 feet of shore frontage.
Page and Glory Hill Conservation Area, Hill: Page Hill was acquired by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust in 1997, and Glory Hill was acquired in 2005. In 2010, Lakes Region Conservation Trust approached the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) to create a trail network on the properties. Over three years later, and 1,200 volunteer hours, there is now a trail system of over seven miles between Page Hill and Glory Hill. New England Mountain Bike Association hopes to have at least ten to fifteen miles of bike trails for all to enjoy in the future.
Further information on the LRCT-conserved properties and trails described above is available as follows:
- Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area— LRCT’s Hiking Trails Map for the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, available from LRCT; Appalachian Mountain Club’s Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide.
- Red Hill and Eagle Cliff—Squam Lakes Association’s Squam Trail Guide; Appalachian Mountain Club’s Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide and White Mountain Guide.
- Squam Range and Rattlesnakes—Squam Lakes Association’s Squam Trail Guide; Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide and Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide.
- Lake Winnipesaukee Islands: LRCT’s Winnipesaukee Paddle Maps, available from LRCT.
- Other Properties—Contact LRCT.