A Short Road Trip. Long on Fun, Food & Fish in NH!
A truly terrific day trip from the Upper Valley of NH & VT.
Are you searching for that most memorable of summer day trips that's sure to please everyone in your group? Look no farther. Here's a day trip with a full itinerary that's sure to please young and old alike!
Let's just start with a few photos of fish to get you into the swing of what my family and I saw yesterday in New Durham, NH, less than a two-hour drive from Lyme, NH where visitors to The Lyme Inn and the Dowds' Country Inn look for all kinds of fascinating things to do relatively close by. Here's a full day's trip itinerary, maybe even an overnight if you want, that's sure to thrill all ages and create memories for a lifetime. It highlights just how centrally located is Lyme, NH to all kinds of great spots for family, fun, and adventure in both the White Mountain State and the Green Mountain State. This is the first of several articles highlighting things to do, places to go, and even people to see within easy striking distance of Lyme and its Upper Valley environs..
Massive rainbow trout, above. 15 pounds at the least. Below, look closely and you'll see plenty of large rainbow trout come into view.
Above, a fish runway built around the 1880's of hand-hewn stone. It runs from the upper fish runways down to the lower open fish ponds at Powder Mills Fish Hatchery in New Durham, NH. Below, a beautifully luscious walk through the woods to the lower open air fish ponds.
How about food, fun, and, yes, even fish. Loads of fish. That's what we saw yesterday as my son, wife, and I took a drive over to New Durham, not far from the Town of Alton at the south end of Lake Winnipesaukee, to check out what's hatching at the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery on Merrymeeting Rd. It's just down the street from Merrymeeting Pond where a pipe at a depth of 50 feet below the surface provides ample cold water for the fish at Powder Mill to grow and thrive.
It was a short trip for us since we're spending some vacation time near Alton Bay, but, still, if you're in Lyme, NH or anywhere in the Upper Valley, this makes for a great day trip in less than a 2-hour drive from home. Along the way, think about a stop in Holderness, NH, where there are some great naturalist spots for kids and adults, like the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Here you can see wild animals native to New Hampshire in natural habitats in the woods. My children loved it when they were little, and they still love it now that they're grown, as do we, their parents!
Take a boat trip on Squam Lake! Offered by the Natural Science Center.
Check out the native NH bears at the Natural Science center...
...and lots of other cool animals in natural settings.
Or, you can give The Owl Brook Hunter Education Center a try. It's run by NH Fish & Game and is also in Holderness. Here are two links to have a peek at what's going on. Click Here for the 1st link to the main Owl Brook webpage. Click Here for a YouTube video of some activity at Owl Brook's free archery target range. And Click Here for the Owl Brook Facebook page which includes some great winter camping images from "Becoming an Outdoors Woman NH." Full disclose compels me to mention that I've not been to this Center, but it sure looks like fun from what I can see online. They offer workshops and camps for all ages, too.
Womens' winter camping at Owl Brook.
One other highlight along the way, also in Holderness, is the best lobster roll shack I've tried. It's called Squam Lakeside, and truly it's the best lobster roll I've ever had in NH. It's been consistently the top lobster roll in NH for the past 20 years in my estimation. I highly recommend it. Click Here for the Lakeside Facebook page as shown below. An old friend and colleague of mine from Dartmouth College told me about this place some 20 years ago. He now lives on the Maine seacoast and still swears by the Squam Lakeside as having his favorite lobster roll!
Best lobster roll in NH (in my humble opinion). Best roll for the lobster, too! And really good fries with a fabulous perch just across the street to look out over Squam Lake.
Two more favorite stops on the way to or from the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery include Sawyers Dairy Bar, where perhaps the best home-made ice cream in the galaxy is waiting for you to taste. It's an old favorite, 70 years old, in fact(!), and we never fail to stop there. Most of the time it's for ice cram, hand scooped and lovingly presented, or for their fried clam dinners. My favorite? Fudge walnut, kiddie size, on a sugar cone. The kiddie size is massive, so watch out!
Sawyers. The best in ice cream and more. 70 years of perfection!
And have a look across the street from Sawyers where you'll see a house in the shape of a boat that stores lots of boating and sailing-related gear in the form of Fay's Marine Store.
Onward past Lake Winnipesaukee looming large to our left is as we head south passing yet another favorite spot for lunch or dinner. It's the Ellacoya Barn & Grill. Set in a massive old barn, this restaurant is a great stop pretty much any time. The food is excellent, as is the service, and you're likely to catch some great local music if you're there in the evening. I've sampled everything from pizza to lobster bisque, chicken wings to flat bread pizza topped with artichokes and caramelized onions, and it's all wonderful. The menu is extensive, and whoever is in the kitchen really knows how to cook.
Ellacoya Barn & Grill. Yet another favorite stop as we had south along the western edge of Lake Winnipesaukee.
I'm sitting here on the shores of the Lake listening to early morning loon calls, long in tone and a bit spooky. As I reminisce about our family outing yesterday, I'm reminded of just how special is our Upper Valley region of NH and VT, and just how much natural beauty surrounds it on both sides of the CT River. And so much of it is within easy reach by car, bicycle, foot, or ski. Now, it's time to wrap this up with some images of the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery, just about a 30-minute drive from Sawyers Dairy Bar and the Ellacoya Barn & Grill.
Oh, and let me not forget to mention that you can find a really great place to hike and pick wild blueberries on Mount Major, also along your path as you drive south. This is another favorite spot for an easy hike up that yields one of the most spectacular views of nearly all of Lake Winnipesaukee stretching itself out below from Mount Major's flat rocky summit. The remains of an old hut also make the top of this hike a fun spot to have lunch, let the dogs lap up water from puddles, or just simply bask in the sunshine before heading back down.
Now for some fish hatchery photos to finish off your day. This was our initial goal for this trip, but getting sidetracked at all the spots mentioned above was great fun. Okay, here come the fish, which were ably described by one of the NH Fish & Game staffers who showed us around and gave us some startlingly new knowledge of how NH's fish hatcheries work. This one fish hatchery, dating back to the 1880's, is a tribute to the State's desire to provide anglers with great opportunities to hook into some fun. It raises and releases more than 350,000 fish, from salmon to trout, each year into rivers, lakes, and streams around the region.
And let me tell you, there's nothing that's quite as much fun as throwing a handful of feed into a fish run and watching the water boil -- except maybe seeing a dozen or so 16-pound rainbow trout floating silently just below the surface of a crystal-clear, cool-water pond. The orange-red stripe flashing down their their sides in brilliant sunlight, and the craggy, jutting lower jaws of the male of this species, are wonders to behold for anyone of any age.
Now for a photo essay of the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery in New Durham, NH...
First, let's watch this video of brown trout feeding, just to whet your appetite...
Now the photo essay. It all starts in an unassuming white building, filled mostly with equipment and machinery, but if you go up to the 2nd floor you'll find offices and a very welcoming crew who really want to tell you all about what they do!
Fish runs and ponds are covered with netting to prevent the quartet of bald eagles nested not far away from scooping up prized fry and even giant 15-pound rainbow lunkers in the show pond.
Inside the white house on it's lower level is a room with load of fascinating creatures and information. There's also a bathroom on the lower level just in case. It's all done in early 1930's interior design a la the Works Progress Administration's finest designers!
Fish to measure your height!
Bear paws on the wall!