Route: Lake Winnipesaukee Island Traverse (NH)

Submitted by tbrooks on Fri, 10/21/2022 - 12:40pm
New Hampshire, US
43 mi
Vertical Gain
8,000 ft

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire and home to over 250+ natural islands. It is bordered on its northern and southern ends by two ranges, the Belknap Range and the Ossipee Range. 

The Lake Winnipesaukee Island Traverse is a challenge to explore some of the best of what Winni has to offer and encompasses both mountain ranges and the islands with public access and trails on the lake.It serves up some very cool terrain and lake views almost the whole time. The official route includes: 

  • Full Belknap Range Traverse from Gunstock to Mt Major Parking lot including the following peaks: Mt. Rowe, Gunstock, Belknap, Klem, Mt. Mack, Anna, Straightback and Major
  • Loops of the public trails on Rattlesnake, Stondedam, Bear (the public forest section), 5 mile, and Ragged Islands
  • Ossipee Range loop including tagging the following peaks: Bald Knob, Black Snout, Shaw, Faraway (if open), and Roberts. 
  • Start and end points are defined as the road sign (Single Chair Path) at the Gunstock end of the BRT and the Castle in the Clouds hiker kiosk sign on Ossippee Park Road. 

Logistics Notes

  • Most of the islands can be reached by power boat, however, being comfortable navigating through some of the trickier sections of lake winni (avoiding the many rocks and outcroppings) is important. One of the islands (5 mile) does not have a public dock so it requires a paddle or swim from the boat to get to the shore. 
  • Pickup and drop off by boat can be done at the public gas docks at the Minge Cove and Melvin Village marinas. 
  • The island & Ossippee trails are maintained and made possible by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. A membership (donation) is required to use them which can be bought online here. Please follow any signage or usage resitrictions as posted and be a good steward. 
  • Gunstock offers great camping at the base of the resort for an early start. 
  • There is some road required to get between traileheads and marinas- these can be done anyway you want. 

 Lake Winnipesaukee is the indigenous land of the Abenaki people. Please watch this video for more information on this history.