Squam Lake, New Hampshire, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - New Hampshire - Lakes Region -

Also known as:  Big Squam Lake, Little Squam Lake

Big Squam Lake,the second-largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire, covers almost 6,800 acres in the state’s Lakes Region. Dotted with historic houses, stunning foliage, and incredible views, Big Squam Lake attracts visitors from miles around. The lake gained notoriety in 1981 as the filming location of the blockbuster movie ‘On Golden Pond’ which earned Oscars for Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn and an Oscar nomination for Jane Fonda.

The waters of Big Squam Lake flow into Little Squam Lake through a natural channel, then exit the lakes through a dam into the Squam River. Little Squam Lake covers about 408 acres, with an average depth of 23 feet and a maximum depth of 84 feet. This smaller lake offers three full-service marinas and a state-run, public boat launch ramp. The channel connecting the two lakes flows under a covered bridge, allowing a maximum boat height of around 22 feet.

Squam Lake is rich in history, a fact illustrated by its name. Originally called Keeseenunknipee by the Abenaki Nation, the name meant “goose lake in the highlands.” Around 1779 the white settlers changed the name to Kusumpy, Kesumpe or Casumpa . In the 1800’s, the Abenaki Indians overruled and renamed the lake Asquam, meaning “water.” In the early 1900’s, the lake’s name was shortened to simply Squam Lake.

New England is known for its covered bridges, and the greater Squam Lake area does not disappoint. More than 50 covered bridges grace New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, each one with its own history and quaint beauty. An afternoon car trip is the ideal way to see a bit of the region’s spectacular scenery and history.

Speaking of scenery, Squam Lake is perhaps best known for its beautiful vistas. Towering pines, crystal waters, flowering bushes, and swooping birds decorate the horizon in summertime. Cooler temperatures bring brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges, and later paint the entire region in white purity. For those unaccustomed to such natural beauty, Squam Lake is truly an unexpected treat for the eyes.

After you’ve seen the splendor of Big Squam Lake from the land, it’s time to test your lake legs and explore from a different point of view. The lake is home to 28 islands large enough to be named, including Moon Island and Bowman Island which are owned and maintained by the Squam Lakes Association. As if given a key to a magical portal, breathtaking scenes await you around every corner. Graceful loons, trees reflected on still waters, deer grazing, fish jumping, and so many more peaceful nature scenes await you. Take your camera and your binoculars, and prepare for a day that you will never forget.

The Squam Lakes Association on Big Squam Lake provides a boat launch ramp for small boats. The Association also rents canoes, kayaks and sailboats. For visitors who prefer to leave the driving to others, the Natural Science Center offers 90-minute summer cruises, and private charters are available for scenic and fishing tours. Personal watercraft and houseboats are not permitted on Squam Lake, and speed is limited to 40 horsepower in the daytime and 20 horsepower at night. Several areas of the lake are marked as “No Wake” for boater safety.

Summertime bass tournaments are popular on Squam Lake. The lakes are warmwater and coldwater fisheries, with numerous largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon, and lake trout.

The Town of Sandwich, NH provides several beach park areas, namely Town Beach, Bear Camp Beach, the Pot Hole Swim Areas, and Beede’s Falls at Sandwich Notch. The quarter-mile walk is easy to the shallow, sandy swim area at the base of Beede Falls.

If you’re an animal lover, consider taking a Moose Tour with the Squam Lake Natural Sciences Center. Weighing anywhere between 600 and 1600 pounds, these huge mammals populated the region long before the settlers arrived. Moose antlers alone can weigh up to 60 pounds, but you’ll be surprised at how graceful they look as they plod through the forest. If you don’t live in the northern United States, this may be your only chance to see a live moose, so don’t miss the opportunity.

Big Squam Lake is an area of great beauty and warm hearts. You will be welcomed here with open arms, the lake will lure you to her shores, and the scenery will charm you so much, that you may never want to leave!

Things to do at Squam Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Squam Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout

Squam Lake Photo Gallery

Squam Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Surface Area: 6,791 acres

Shoreline Length: 61 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 562 feet

Average Depth: 36 feet

Maximum Depth: 98 feet

Water Volume: 243,670 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 58 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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