Date visited: January 30, 2016
Hours 8 a.m. – 8 p..m. (during the regular season, open without staff during the off season)
There are about 10-20 parking spots by the main entrance but there is a parking lot across the street for overflow traffic (watch out for the holes and bumps in the lot)
Cost: Free but it may cost to put a boat or other watercraft in the lake
“Massabesic” (pronounced Mass-A-Bee-Sick) is a Native American word for “place of much water” or “near the great brook”. True to its translation, Massabesic Lake Watershed is definitely a place where you will find much water, albeit frozen. Manchester Airport is nearby so it is not uncommon to see a plane fly by as is evident in one of the photos in the slideshow below.
Normally, I would consider visiting a lake, pond or any body of water during the winter something of a waste. Little did I realize though, lakes can be as much fun in the winter as they are during the summer.
A sign on the trail in Massabesic Lake warns you to stay on the trail. This is partly because the houses are so close to the trail. Also, you have to cross busy roadways at some points to continue on the trail.
There were people ice fishing (the orange flags on the poles in the water stick up when they get a bite). Since Lake Massabesic is used as a watershed, people are not allowed to swim or put their bodies in the water. But, you can fish, sail and canoe on the lake.
There were people sailing on their ice boats. You can hear the gentleman talking to me in the video below. Are there any friendlier people on this planet than the people of New Hampshire?
or relaxing in their favorite chair
The Massabesic Lake is home to a trail that leads to Portsmouth, NH as part of the Rockingham Recreational Trail. As much as I love Portsmouth, I wasn’t up for hiking that far (The Rockingham Recreational Trail is 26 miles total). It is called a “Rail Trail” because it used to be part of the railway system and was converted over to a trail. It is very popular with cyclists. The cyclist pictured below had wide tires, presumably to deal with all off the ice as it was very icy. He is a braver man than I. There is also a 4 mile loop at the lake.
Overall, I would rate the trails I hiked easy to moderate in some parts. The only hard part was dealing with the ice on the trails. It went from being very easy to manage to downright dangerous due to the icy conditions. As the snow melted in the morning it turned to mud, then iced over again. During the morning hours, the ice was melting at a rapid pace. Then, a few hours later, you could walk on the lake again because the temperatures dropped so much. While the weather was warmish (by New Hampshire standards), you could hear the ice making noises as it melted. You may be able to hear the “groaning” noises in the video below.
I did manage to walk out on the ice myself, after seeing everyone else out there first of course.
Meet Jackson, a Siberian husky. Jackson has one blue eye and one brown eye. I tried to photograph his eyes but he was blinking when the photo was taken. You may be able to see his different colored eyes if you zoom in on the first photo. He was very playful and friendly and what about that smile in the second photo!
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