If you think leaf-peeping in New Hampshire is over for the year, think again. While some areas of the state are indeed past peak, there are other regions boasting beautiful shades of seasonal scenery. This route around the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region highlights the autumn glow.
Start your day with a stop at Little Lake Sunapee. Located nearby its sister, Lake Sunapee, the Little Lake is a bit smaller and quieter, and exemplifies the peacefulness of lake life. Enjoy the view out on the water from the small boat launch located nearby the Little Lake Sunapee Dam.
Fall is in full swing at Spring Ledge Farm in New London. This local farmstand is chock full of all your autumn needs. Whether it’s pumpkins, squashes or gourds you’re looking for, or fresh baked breads, and pies and local cheeses, they offer a bounty of fall flavors.
It’s always great to get up in elevation and see the scenery from a different view. The trail at Clark Lookout is the perfect place to do just that. The hike is less than a mile round trip, climbs about 100 feet, and the reward is spectacular views of Lake Sunapee and Mount Sunapee. The changing leaves makes for a beautiful scene surrounding the lake. For trail access, park at the Exit 12 Park & Ride off I-89. A fun feature here, near the trail head is a small library box, feel free to borrow or lend a book.
Herrick Cove Lighthouse is one of three lighthouses located on Lake Sunapee. The original hexagonal structure was built in the late 1800s as an effort to improve steamboat safety on the Lake. It’s about 24 feet tall and marks the entrance to Herrick Cove. The Sunapee Cruises offer a up close view of the lighthouse. But if that’s not an option, you can also see it off Route 103A. The pull off is marked by a Lakeside Landing sign that describes when Sunapee was bustling with steamboats. It’s a picture worthy stop especially during autumn.
Sunapee Harbor, bustling in the summer months with boats and people is a bit quieter during autumn. The Harbor is home to about 20 businesses or so, offering everything from dining and ice cream to a country store, antiques, art, custom furniture and boat tours. Fall hours are generally scaled back so be sure to know before you go if you’re interested in shopping or dining. Otherwise, sit at the docks or in the gazebo and enjoy the crisp fall air and the colorful views.
While exploring the Harbor, be sure to step off Main Street to check out the Sunapee Harbor Riverwalk. This short but scenic walk brings you along the Sugar River, and provides a window into the town’s history. Look for the old Town Hall and former livery stable, several old factory and mill sites, the town’s hydro facility, a small water fall, and some great views of the river.
Known to locals as the Goshen Ocean, the official name of this small man-made waterbody is called Gunnison Lake. Access the lake via Gunnison Lake Road in Goshen or from Four Corners Road. With Mount Sunapee as a backdrop, this is a perfect spot for a fall picnic. Watch the water and you might even spot a resident loon. Take the Ruth Leclair Memorial Trail while you’re there. The 3-mile route goes around the lake and is a nice walk in the woods.
Tucked into the southern tip of Lake Sunapee, you’ll find a red caboose. It’s not just any red caboose, this is the Bell Cove Historic Museum. Although the hours are very limited during the fall season, it’s a great find and a great photo opp as it’s located in a small park with views out onto the water. Located on the site of the former Newbury Station, the museum does house a bit of history. If you catch it when it’s open, learn about the history of rail service in the region and how vacationers used to arrive in the area prior to the 1950s.
Wrap up your day with a visit to Wadleigh State Park. One of the lesser-known State Parks, it’s a great find! Located on the southeastern shores of Kezar Lake it’s quiet and peaceful. Walk amid the tall pines and hemlocks and enjoy the calming sounds of the lake water. There’s a 3-mile loop that takes off from the park and goes around the shore of the lake. It follows mostly dirt roads and offers fantastic lakeside views and fall foliage too. If you’d rather, you can drive thr route too, just follow Keyser Street to Kings Hill Road, to Penacook Road to Wadleigh Hill Road.