Summer on Squam Lake

Squam Lake, New Hampshire

The summer is a perfect time for connecting with family, enjoying nature and having lazy afternoons. GoNOMAD’s Stephen Hartshorne takes us up north to spend some time in beautiful New Hampshire with his daughter in Squam Lake, New Hampshire: The Perfect Place for a Father-Daughter Getaway. By the end of the article you’ll be circling a weekend on your calendar to plan a getaway yourself.

My daughter Sarah and I drove up to Squam Lake last week for a father-daughter getaway. She’s pretty busy down in New York with acting and modeling and writing, so when we get a chance to spend time together it’s a big treat for me and I like to find a great destination, and Squam Lake was absolutely perfect.

According to local historian Tink Taylor, people have been coming to Squam Lake for their summer holidays for more than ten thousand years to swim and fish and hunt and enjoy the haunting cry of the loons, which the Abenaki likened to the laughter of the gods.

It was overcast on Friday and Saturday, but we found plenty to do at the Squam Lake Nature Center, the Sandwich Historical Society and Grange, lots of really cool art galleries, some great restaurants and a performance of one of the greatest plays ever written, On Golden Pond, directed by the author, Ernest Thompson, at the Little Church Theater.

On Golden Pond

The loons figure prominently in the 1979 play “On Golden Pond” and the 1981 movie. The play was originally set on a pond in Maine, but the movie producers chose Squam Lake for its east-west orientation, and the filming of the movie became an important chapter in the history of the region.

It was the top-grossing film of 1981 and earned Academy Awards for Henry Fonda (best actor), Katharine Hepburn (best actress) and Ernest Thompson (best screenplay).
Saturday afternoon the sun came out just in time for us to take some photos of Beede’s Falls, a beautiful series of glacial potholes where the Bearcamp River comes tumbling over the bedrock making lots of idyllic swimming holes.
And Sunday dawned bright and clear for our cruise around Squam Lake with Cindy O’Leary of Experience Squam. As we approached the cottage where the movie was filmed, a pair of loons came out to greet us.

Wildlife Preservation

Loons are an ancient bird, much older than ducks and geese, and they have solid bones, unlike ducks and geese which have hollow bones. This means they’re better at diving than they are at flying. They nest at the water’s edge where sometimes their nests are disturbed by land predators or by waves from the wakes of passing motorboats.

One of the many conservation projects of the Squam Lake Association is to construct covered nesting rafts for the loons to use. Cindy showed us one of these rafts with a loon comfortably perched inside. The SLA also protects the nests of the eagles, which returned in 2003 after an absence of 70 years!

The SLA works with the State of New Hampshire to establish guidelines for the use of the lake that protect wildlife and still allow access for recreation. And there’s an informal network of landowners who snap up parcels of land when they come one the market to make sure this gem of nature remains unspoiled for generations to come.

Squam Lake, New Hampshire: The Perfect Place for a Father-Daughter Getaway