Affectionately known as “On Golden Pond“, after the classic Fonda-Hepburn motion picture filmed here in the early 1980’s, Squam Lake is truly one of the most picturesque, pristine and unspoiled lakes you’ll find. Nestled in the heart of New Hampshire’s Lakes & White Mountains Region, Squam Lake remains much like how the Native Americans left it. Many of the same families have been visiting Squam Lake for generations and often these quintessential lakeside cabins and cottages are passed down for younger generations to enjoy. Squam Lake encompasses land in the quaint towns of Ashland, Holderness, Center Harbor and Sandwich, New Hampshire. Squam Lake is a spring fed lake, with crystal clear water and sometimes colder than most.
On Golden Pond was filmed in a quintessential lakeside cottage on the shores of Big Squam Lake. On Golden Pond was based on the screenplay by Ernest Thompson.
Facts & History about Squam Lake
Squam Lake was originally called Keeseenunknipee, which meant “the goose lake in the highlands”. The white settlers that followed shortened the name to “Casumpa”, “Kusumpy” and/or “Kesumpe” around 1779. In the early 19th century, the lake was given another Abenaki name, Asquam, which means “water”. Finally, in the early 20th century, Asquam was shortened to its present version, Squam.
The 1981 film On Golden Pond was filmed in the town of Center Harbor on Squam Lake. The movie exposed the world to the natural beauty and tranquility of the Squam Lake region.
There is a wonderful tour boat service offered by the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center based in Holderness. The tour explores the filming locations as well as other items of natural significance. It’s a wonderful tour.
Squam Lake is a nesting site for loons and is a good place to see them in breeding plumage during the summer months. Bald eagles and great blue herons are also known to nest on the lake.
Squam Lake has about 30 wonderful islands and numerous smaller, unnamed islets. The islands are named:
- Basin Island
- Birch Island
- Bowman Island
- Carnes Island
- Chocorua (Church) Island
- Duck Island
- Great Island
- Groton Island
- High Haith (at 243 acres (98 ha), the largest island, but only separated from mainland by narrow ditch bridged by road)
- Hoag Island
- Hubble Island
- Kate Island
- Kent Island
- Kimball Island
- Laurel Island
- Little Loon Island (nesting site to bald eagles in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2012)
- Long Island
- Loon Island
- Merrill Island
- Mink Island
- Mooney (or Moon) Island
- Mouse Island
- Otter Island
- Perch Island
- Potato Island
- Sheep Island
- Three Sisters (three separate islands)
- Utopia Island
- Yard Island
Church Island on Squam Lake
Chocorua (Church) Island located on Big Squam Lake is open to the public and offers Sunday services and wedding events during the summer months. It’s also a peaceful place for reflection with the lake and surrounding mountains all around.
Fall Foliage at Squam Lake
Fall foliage at Squam Lake is truly spectacular. Mother nature unveils a symphony of vibrant colors which reflect upon the lake water. Squam Lake is a great place to visit during the fall (especially early to mid October) for the best display of fall foliage colors in New Hampshire.
Plan your visit to Squam Lake / On Golden Pond in New Hampshire using our SQUAM LAKE LODGING link above. We can offer you lodging and dining advice, suggestions on things to do and places to explore around On Golden Pond.