Winter sports buffs will find a grand time in the Lakes region of New Hampshire, especially in Lake Winnipesaukee. Ice fishing competitions, sled dog racing, downhill and cross country skiing, sledding and winter festivals on the icy lake give visitors a grand show during this “quiet” time of year when snow brings stark beauty as well as freezing cold. Never fear, though, there’s cups of steaming hot chocolate and coffee waiting inside the area’s cafes and eateries for those needing a bit of warmth and comfort.
Snowmobiling is a big and increasingly popular sport in Lake Winnipesaukee with thousands of trails over hill and dale, through woods, fields and on the lakes themselves once they freeze. It’s a good idea to join a New Hampshire snowmobile club if you find you enjoy the sport. Clubs get the necessary written permission from private landowners so individuals don’t have to do that themselves. A club membership also offers a great discount on the state registration fee. Snowmobile clubs maintain the thousands of miles of trails and keep them in top shape. Spend a day riding the trails then head out on the lake for some speed riding. The gorgeous surrounding scenery highlighted by Mount Washington, crispy chilled air and zipping through the snow makes snowmobiling a grand adventure Lake Winnipesaukee style.
Downhill skiers can try the small family resort at Abenaki Ski Area in Wolfeboro or go grand at Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford. Both offer great downhill ski runs as well as kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Gunstock Mountain Resort also offers snowboarding, a tubing park and a zip line for sheer winter fun.
Ice skating at the many ice rinks in the area is also a popular way to spend an afternoon for family and friends. Many local rinks offer lessons as well for beginners. Kids and adults can learn hockey—a grand, outdoors sport in the Lakes region. If you’ve always wanted to learn figure skating, the nearby Laconia Ice Arena offers lessons.
Ice fishing begins when the lake freezes. Tiny, colorful bob houses spring up on the lake as ice fishers begin to auger at their favorite spots. Bobhouses run from a mere shack to a palatial structure with wood stoves, TVs and other comforts. During the Meredith Ice Fishing Derby in February, visitors can even find a midway on the ice complete with carnival stands selling fried dough and chili.
Winter may be the quiet season in Lake Winnipesaukee, but most natives and visitors will spend their time outdoors enjoying a huge variety of favorite winter sports.