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Gilford, NH: Ellacoya State Park

Gilford, NH: Ellacoya State Park
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With my wife, Sally, three sons and, lately, their wives and children, I’ve spent summer weekends on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, for 38 years. So, until a surprise discovery just last summer, I assumed I knew all the fun things to do around New England’s third-largest lake–including having breakfast at The Strawberry Patch in Wolfeboro and then walking the railroad-track trail out along Lake Wentworth. Or shopping in Meredith–lunch at the Adirondack-style Lakehouse Grille (at Church Landing) there is a must.

Several times each summer, Sally has to visit the knit shop and quilt place in Center Harbor, while I peruse the great hardware store across the street. The kids play the miniature golf course in Alton Bay, and maybe, on the way back up Route 11 on the west side, we all climb Mount Major and pick blueberries up there while marveling at the incredible view. Of course, the younger family members consider Weirs Beach a must. They love the carnival-like stuff, but Sally and I have passed up that particular expedition for more than 30 years. I’m tempted to go back for the fried dough, though.

So the “surprise discovery” last summer? Well, first of all, you must learn to pronounce it correctly. It’s Ellacoya State Park on Route 11 in Gilford. If you call it “Lacoya,” everyone who works there (and from the manager to the ticket taker to the lifeguards to the snack-bar attendant, they’re all New Hampshire natives “born and bred”) will know you’re from Massachusetts. Besides, the Indian princess of long ago for whom the park is named would want you to say it correctly.

What we loved about it was not just the 600-foot sandy beach or the gorgeous view across the lake to the Ossipee mountain range. It wasn’t the hot dogs, pizza, or homemade ice cream at the snack bar, either. For Sally and me it was the shade. You see, while everyone else enjoyed the sun, we could relax in the shade of the pine grove, interspersed with picnic tables. It’s behind the beach and along the shore of Poor Farm Brook, which separates the beach section from the RV camping facility. We were all so happy during our first visit, we returned many times over last summer. “It’s our new favorite thing!” our grandchildren decided.

Did we mention that July 2009 marks the park’s 50th anniversary? And to think I’ve just discovered it. But I will say that although I was born in Massachusetts, I’ve got the pronunciation down pat now.

When You Go

The Strawberry Patch
50 North Main St., Wolfeboro. 603-569-5523; strawberrypatch.tk

Lakehouse Grille
Church Landing at Mills Falls, 281 Daniel Webster Highway, Meredith. 603-279-5221;
millfalls.com/dining.htm

Weirs Beach
weirsbeach.org, weirsbeach.com, weirsonline.com

Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce
603-524-5531; laconia-weirs.org

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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One Response to Gilford, NH: Ellacoya State Park

  1. Sally Remick August 17, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Dear Mr. Hale,
    I am handling publicity for the novelist Alfred Alcorn, whose Murders in the Museum of Man published by Steerforth Press/Zoland Books might tickle your fancy and appeal to your readers. Mr. Alcorn has a feature story idea for your excellent magazine. For the past few years, he has been renovating an old horse barn as a converted dwelling in Colrain, MA. It’s an obsessive activity which he calls “the Colrain cure” to keep him in shape for writing. Mr. Alcorn was featured in the current issue of Harvard Magazine (see Montage by Craig Lambert). Also Steerforth Press should have sent you or Mel Allen copies of all three books. Yours sincerely, Sally Remick
    *I may be contacted by e-mail “remicksally@gmail.com” or by phone 617-484-3517, for further details regarding Alfred Alcorn’s work.
    **By the way my father Eliot W. Remick wrote a popular column on antiques for Yankee Magazine and New Hampshire Profiles back in the 1950s and 1960s, when we were spending summers at my grandmother’s home on Lake Winnepesaukie.

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