Great East Lake, Maine & New Hampshire, USA
Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Great East Lake.
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Great East Lake visitor and community guide
Great East Lake is a paradise for anyone who enjoys a relaxing time. With over 1700 acres of water and 12 miles of shoreline, Great East Lake is known for its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Regarded for its cleanliness, Great East Lake supports a large ecosystem of waterfowl, otters, turtles, deer, fish, and moose – to name just a few! It is the largest body of water in its vicinity and is itself surrounded by nine bodies of water. With Pine River Pond, Lovell Lake, Lake Ivanhoe, Province Lake, Stump Pond, Union Meadows, Sandy Pond, Horn Pond, and Belleau Lake nestled nearby, Great East Lake is an area of quiet beauty and rich experience.
Straddling the border between Maine and New Hampshire, Great East Lake forms the headwaters of the Salmon Falls River, the natural borderline between the two states which graces several towns before emptying into the tidal waters of the Piscataqua River and historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Copp Brook and Scribner Brook feed into Great East Lake.
Spanning the towns of Acton, Maine and Wakefield, New Hampshire, and located in the oldest historical region of America, Great East Lake offers a look into the past. The Salmon Falls River was one of the first rivers to be settled by Europeans, beginning in the early 1600s. Indeed, this river saw two historic firsts: the first cow and the first sawmill in the land. By the 1700s, at least 100 sawmills lined the shores of the river, including the northernmost one in Wakefield, New Hampshire. The dam on Great East Lake was completed in 1825 and used to control the flow of the Salmon Falls River as well as supply water power to the area. The towns surrounding Great East Lake continue to boast hundreds of 200-year-old homes and barns, many of which simply line the streets to catch your eye.
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services operates the Great East Lake dam. Water levels are maintained at full pond during the summer, with the seasonal fall drawdown beginning in October. The level is gradually lowered to three feet below full pond level, refilling again with spring runoff after the ice melts.
Great East Lake is surrounded by residences, many of which can be rented. Seasonal visitors flock to the lakes of Maine and New Hampshire, and visitors to Great East Lake are certainly not an exception. An RV Resort located on the shores of the lake offers seasonal and year-round living to adults over 50, as well as a golf course open to the public.
The four seasons are filled with activity. Anglers might look no farther than Great East Lake. The rocky shores and deep cold waters hold 21 species of fish, including land-locked salmon, pickerel, perch, bass, and varieties of large trout, for which the lake is best-known. Catches are often at least two feet long.
In the summer, swimmers can enjoy a public sandy beach on the northern side of the lake. A boat launch near the lake’s outlet provides access for kayakers and other boating enthusiasts. From sailing to skiing; from the picturesque autumn foliage to the deep winter snows; from tens of country fairs to colonial covered bridges; from shopping to hiking; from snowmobiling to historic sightseeing, enthusiasts of all kinds will be satisfied.
Local food is abundant. In the warmer months, it will take very little effort to find the numerous farmers’ stands heaped with local produce, the berry fields and apple orchards, the maple syrup shacks. Seafood-enthusiasts will find themselves in heaven on Maine’s celebrated coast. Though there are many delicious inland seafood restaurants, it’s often preferable to drive a bit to reach the seaside and the freshest catch. Buy from a market to prepare your own food, or enjoy the scenery and eat at one of the hundreds of restaurants dotting the Maine coast. Even individuals who enjoy wild foods will find them in abundance, from berries to pickerelweed.
Visitors will be delighted by the rich experiences offered in the area. Located quite centrally between the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Maine coast, and Lake Winnipesauke, Great East Lake is a perfect setting for visitors who want to explore the best of Maine and New Hampshire.
Custom Great East Lake house decor
Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.
Things to do at Great East Lake
- Vacation Rentals
- Wildlife Viewing
Fish species found at Great East Lake
Best hotels and vacation rentals at Great East Lake
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Great East Lake photo gallery
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Great East Lake statistics & helpful links
Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed
Water Level Control: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Surface Area: 1,768 acres
Shoreline Length: 12 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 571 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 574 feet
Average Depth: 35 feet
Maximum Depth: 102 feet
Water Volume: 59,993 acre-feet
Water Residence Time: 3.3 years
Drainage Area: 16 sq. miles
Trophic State: Oligotrophic
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