Swanzey Lake, New Hampshire, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - New Hampshire - Monadnock -

One of the unsung gems of New Hampshire’s Monadnock region, little Swanzey Lake is well-loved by those lucky enough to live along its shoreline. The lake was created from a natural, spring-fed pool by damming the outlet of Swanzey Pond in the late 1700s. A succession of small mills utilized its water power over many years, helping the Town of Swanzey to grow into a thriving residential community. Located less than 10 miles south of Keene, the pond contributes its waters to the mighty Ashuelot River via the many brooks and seasonal springs in the area. The lake is entirely private except for the small park and swimming beach open to local residents only.

Settled early in the nation’s history, many small farmers and early industrialists put down roots in the Monadnock region. Records of the area are sketchy, but an-out-of print book describes the building of the first dam across Swanzey Pond in 1780 and the resulting power used for the manufacture of sickles. A succession of mills followed the first, all for the purpose of the manufacture of goods to be sold locally. No discussion of the resulting Swanzey Lake is found, but the lake itself apparently became a residential neighborhood soon after. By the early 20th century, the lake served as home for several camps for children, at least one of which still exists as a commercial camping facility. Two campgrounds now co-exist at Swanzey Lake: one is a Christian-centered camp with facilities for youth, families and group retreats, and the other is a shaded commercial campground complete with electrical hook-ups, camp store, boat rentals and planned activities.

Richardson Park is a municipal recreation site open only to local residents. A sandy beach with buoyed swim area for children and a lifeguard join a fishing pier and car-top canoe and kayak launch to provide the best in recreational opportunities for area residents. However, anyone in the area can take a leisurely walk around the entire lake on the road that encircles it. The walk is about 2.5 miles, mostly shaded and with limited, local traffic-a particularly attractive hike when the leaves turn colors in the fall. Several of the homes on the lakefront are rented regularly on a short-term basis to vacationers, allowing a precious bit of public enjoyment of this secluded lake. Most of these vacation rentals also include a boat or pontoon for the use of their guests. Jet skis are not allowed on the lake, and although it doesn’t appear water skiing is prohibited, it seems most area residents enjoy slower forms of boating such as canoeing and kayaking. A swimming area open to the public is located in North Swanzey at Wilson Pond.

Fishing is a popular activity at Swanzey Lake, with smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, American eel and bullheads all present. A designated trout lake, both brook trout and rainbow trout can be caught; special regulations are in place and should be checked by any aspiring anglers. There is no information on the availability of ice fishing, but the area is certainly in demand as a winter get-away. Several ski areas are located nearby. Swanzey and the Swanzey Lake area are exceptionally popular among nature lovers and those seeking to view and photograph the many covered bridges in the area.

Seven of New Hampshire’s prettiest covered bridges are located in the Swanzey area: the Slate Covered Bridge built in 1862, Carlton Covered Bridge-1789, Thompson Covered Bridge-1832, and the Cresson Covered Bridge (originally built in 1770 and replaced in 1859) are all located near Swanzey. The County Covered Bridge-1937, Ashuelot Covered Bridge-1858 and Coombs Covered Bridge-1837 are located a short distance away. Inns and bed & breakfasts in the area often advertise weekend specials complete with maps for touring all of the covered bridges in the area.

One activity that can include viewing at least one of the bridges is to hike the West Swanzey portion of the Ashuelot Rail-Trail while enjoying the natural vistas afforded from the abandoned railroad right-of-way. The trail runs 21 miles from Keene to Winchester and is open in part to mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Prospective users are advised to check on trail conditions before starting out, because not all sections are equally accessible to all activities. Several snowmobile clubs in the Keene area work together to keep snowmobile trails groomed in winter and invite other snowmobilers to join them on the trails.

With the college town of Keene nearby, there are a variety of outdoor activities scheduled year-round. Several marathons and half-marathon races occur each year. One of the better known is Elijah’s Race, a 13.1-mile loop that travels through four of the famed covered bridges in the area. The City of Keene offers such attractions as the Cheshire Children’s Museum, Colonial Theatre, Cheshire Rail Trail, and the family-friendly college baseball team, the Swampbats. Keene also features several youth-oriented ‘watering holes’, popular restaurants and specialty shopping.

Lodgings of all types are found in the Swanzey Lake area. In addition to private vacation rentals at the lake, there are numerous campgrounds in the area, along with several bed & breakfasts, quaint inns, major hotels and friendly guest cottages. Hundreds of acres of natural scenery are available to roam nearby at Pisgah State Park. Canoeing portions of the Ashuelot River is possible by utilizing the services of a number of canoe or kayak rentals nearby. Real estate is available, both on the lakeshore and in nearby areas. Although rural, the Swanzey Lake area has good highway access to most of the major cities in New England and can be easy to get to for an afternoon or a weekend visit. So, bring the camera and the walking stick. Swanzey Lake and Cheshire County’s covered bridges await.

Things to do at Swanzey Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Horseback Riding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Swanzey Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brook Trout
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Swanzey Lake Photo Gallery

Swanzey Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Town of Swanzey

Surface Area: 108 acres

Shoreline Length: 2 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 541 feet

Average Depth: 26 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

Spread the word! Share our Swanzey Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.