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View a Dazzling Abundance of Color

Christine Randall - October 10, 2012

After a slow start, the foliage seems to be changing rapidly here in the Lakes Region, and you can see more and more bright red, yellow, and orange leaves starting to appear along the roadways and in the hillsides. So, knowing that soon the leaves would be gone, I recently decided that another scenic foliage tour around the region was in order. Although the day was gray and cloudy, this did not deter me–sometimes you can see the best colors on days when the light is more muted.

As I have noted before, foliage seems to be brighter and more colorful around water, so I decided to try a 25-mile route that would include a number of ponds, bogs, and lakes (and in the Lakes Region, you know there is no shortage of these!), which would take me through four towns and two counties. Starting from Ashland, I headed south on Route 3 towards Holderness, passing a scenic covered bridge located over the Squam River at the outlet of Little Squam Lake. I quickly crossed into Holderness, and I followed Route 3 around the south end of Big Squam Lake, noticing that the leaves were really starting to turn, which brightened up the gray day.

The Squam Lakes Association is headquartered in a building located on the left side of Route 3 in Holderness as you head towards Meredith, and here you can stop and rent a canoe or kayak if you want to explore Squam Lake in a non-motorized boat. Not far from Squam Lake, I passed scenic White Oak Pond and several colorful bogs, crossing the town line into Center Harbor, as well as the county line from Grafton to Belknap, before I turned right onto Waukewan Road.

Waukewan Road is a narrow, very picturesque road, which runs between Center Harbor and New Hampton. The road takes you past the 18-hole Waukewan Golf Course, which despite the gray day, still had a number of diehard golfers enjoying a few rounds. Dedicated golfers can sure be a strange bunch!

The road also meanders past several farms and open fields, with wonderful scenic views of Lake Waukewan on the left. Lake Waukewan is a 927-acre lake stretching between Meredith, New Hampton, and Center Harbor. At a narrow bridge on the northwestern edge of the lake, you cross from Center Harbor into New Hampton, and I noticed a few fishermen out trolling on the lake trying to land some of the perch, trout, bass, and pickerels that are abundant here. There was also a small pond on the other side of the road, and the autumn foliage was terrific on both sides.

At the end of Waukewan Road, you intersect with Winona Road, and turning left will take you towards Meredith while turning right will take you into Ashland. If you need a break and are in the mood for some culture, take a left and stop in at the Old Print Barn Art Gallery, which is located on the corner of the intersection of Waukewan and Winona Roads. The Old Print Barn is an amazing place for art lovers, home to a collection of over 50,000 works of art dating from four different centuries; about 2,000 of these artworks are on display at any given time in the remodeled barn.  The gallery is open daily from 10am until 5pm, you can call 279-6479 for more information.

I had visited the Old Print Barn on previous occasions, so I took a right and headed down Winona Road towards Ashland. Just after you go (with extreme caution) through a one lane railroad underpass, the road crosses back into Center Harbor from New Hampton, and you come across a small boat ramp/parking area for Lake Winona. Lake Winona is a 148-acre lake that always seems to have some of the best autumn color around, and this year proved to be no exception.

The road around Lake Winona offers some great views of the lake, but the road is very curving, hilly, and narrow, so, as hard as it may be, it’s best to try to keep your eyes on the road–unless you are fortunate enough to have a driver with you, so you can look to your heart’s content!

At a relatively straight portion of Winona Road, I took a right onto Hawkins Pond Road, and about one-half mile later, I reached Hawkins Pond. Hawkins Pond is a small pond that is a very popular place in the summer for kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen with small boats; boating is limited to car top access only.

I continued down Hawkins Pond Road towards Holderness, and crossing yet another town line (this time from Center Harbor into Holderness) and county line (Belknap to Grafton), Hawkins Pond Road changed its name to Coxboro Road. Coxboro Road is another winding and narrow rural road, with occasional glimpses of White Oak Pond seen on the right side.

I soon came to the junction of Coxboro Road and Shepard Hill Road, and I turned left and headed down towards the center of Holderness, past the Manor on Golden Pond and the Squam Lake Inn before turning back onto Route 3, completing my enjoyable lakes and pond foliage loop. 

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