New Found Pleasures
Find them on a spin around the lake on a summer day.Compared to Lake Winnipesaukee, Newfound Lake may be small, but the 20-odd-mile drive around it is packed with enough diversions to fill a day.Leave I-93 at Exit 23 in New Hampton and follow Route 104 west to Bristol, turning right (north) on Route 3A. At the southern end of Newfound Lake, turn left onto West Shore Road. (A right turn here onto Hobart Road takes you on a short detour to the door of Kathleen’s Cottage, an Irish restaurant with an authentic menu and live music on weekends.) West Shore Road follows the lake closely, with views of Mayhew Island before entering Wellington State Park. One of the most overlooked parks in the state, Wellington has a long sandy beach shaded by tall pines — perfect for parents who want to stay close to children playing in the shallow water. It’s an ideal spot for picnics, kayaking or swimming — the water in Newfound Lake has been declared among the clearest of any lake in the country. Leaving the park, West Shore Road again hugs the shore — it has little alternative, hemmed in by the steep cliffs of Sugarloaf Mountain on the left. At the northern end of the lake, at Hebron, leave the shore for a short detour left, to Groton. When the road bends sharply to the right, continue straight ahead on Sculptured Rocks Road.In about a mile you’ll come to Sculptured Rocks. Cockermouth River may look small, but in glacial times it was a mighty force that carved great potholes in the granite. They look as though a giant drill press had been at work. The brook tumbles over the rocks in a series of waterfalls, then continues through a gorge. Return to Hebron to continue around the lake on North Shore Road, and you’ll soon come to the Hebron Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. Where the Cockermouth enters the lake, the marsh and open field habitat is rich in birdlife including wood ducks, great blue heron, osprey or even a moose. Just over a mile beyond is Paradise Point Nature Center, its driveway almost hidden on the right. A small museum tells about the loons on the lake, with an audio program on loon calls. There’s a bird-viewing area and trails that wander through the woods. Elwell Trail leads beside a swamp where you can see a tupelo tree, very rare this far north.North Shore Road ends at Route 3A. Turn right and follow it south along the lake for about four miles, to The Inn on Newfound Lake in Bridgewater. Guests have been enjoying views of the lake from its long porch since it opened in 1840, and although the inn has been modernized, it is furnished in antiques. The chef at The Pasquaney Restaurant is a staunch believer in using local ingredients, and at this time of year some of them come right from the inn’s own garden. Continue south to Bristol, where you can either return to I-93 or continue on Route 3A to Profile Falls, on the left about 3 miles south. A trail leads down to the river, and although we have never been able to spot the Profile, the falls are worth seeing. About three miles farther on a state historic marker explains that this little group of buildings is the New Village of Hill, the old one having been submerged when the Franklin Dam was built. If you’re feeling peckish, Pastries by Paris is a good reason to stop in Hill.Route 3A continues past the dam to Franklin, where a left on Route 3 leads back to I-93 in Tilton.