07-Beaches and Pitch Pine – White Lake SP

White Lake SP looks like a marvelous park if you’re looking to spend a summer day with the kids.  There’s a beautiful beach with brand-new playgrounds.  The web site says “White Lake State Park offers some of the best swimming in the White Mountain region.  Guests are welcome to enjoy a leisurely walk around the lake on a well-maintained foot path while looking for loons or signs of beaver activity, or to try their hand at the good trout fishing the lake provides. The park offers a day-use area, group areas, and a campground with family campsites as well as youth group sites.

I spent a beautiful April day there.  Beautiful but extremely windy and chilly.  So I can only imagine how nice it could be in the summer.  The facilities look a little more spruced up than some of the other parks I’ve visited too, which is encouraging.  Here are some views of the beach and shore:

Playgrounds

A table by the beach.

…for all ages

I’ve gotten into the habit of looking over the revenue and expense charts available on the park’s web site.  A quick look at White Lake’s numbers reveals that the big income producer here is the campground.  Looking at the campground map, I’m sure this would be a terrific location for a camping holiday, with the campgrounds being an easy walk to the beach.  Since there’s plenty to see in the immediate vicinity of the park, this would also be a great home base as you explore this very pretty part of the state.  So that would explain the camping revenue.

For my visit, the only thing open was the great outdoors, so I decided to take a hike around the lake on what the website describes as “a well-maintained foot path“, which is about a mile round-trip.  Within 3 minutes of my arrival, 4 other cars arrived with the same idea, each containing at least one dog.  Looks like this is a popular dog trail.  Since they all started off towards the left, I decided to go towards the right, along the eastern side of the lake.  There’s a large stand of pitch pine on the western side that’s recognized as a national natural landmark and NH state biodiversity site.  So that was my destination.

Calling this a “well-maintained” path is really stretching the truth a bit.  Since there are absolutely no trail markers except those put up where the trail leaves the park, it is actually possible to stray off the path.  Fortunately all one has to do is keep the lake in view and you can’t get truly lost.  However, finding the trail to the pitch pine forest, at least from the northern end, takes a really trained eye and map reading skills.  It is neither marked nor signed.  I followed a thin but distinct path into the woods that led in the correct direction and fortunately it turned out to be correct.  The pitch pine trail actually leads to some conserved land outside the park and thanks to conservation commission of the town of Tamworth, the trails in that section are well marked.

In the pitch pine forest

I was a bit perplexed by the pitch pines until I paid a visit later in the day to the pitch pine forest preserved in the Nature Conservancy’s Ossipee Pine Barrens Preserve.  I noticed that all the pines were older mature trees and that try as I might, I was unable to find and seedlings or smaller pitch pines, only the ubiquitous white pines.  From the Nature Conservancy’s helpful kiosk and trail guide, I learned that these trees need fires for regeneration, and that they have recently started regular controlled burns in their properties to facilitate that.  I later discovered that the park’s website has more information about the pitch pines, and that they too are considering burns sometime in the future.  Considering how well-marked and informative the Nature Conservancy property is and how poorly marked the state park’s is, I hope the park can collaborate sometime in the near future with either the Conservancy or the Tamworth Conservation Commission, both of whom do a much better job.  But if you walk toward the pitch pine trail from the southwest, you should have no trouble finding the trail.  That end has already been marked because it’s in Tamworth conserved land.

Happy travels!

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One response to “07-Beaches and Pitch Pine – White Lake SP

  1. Pingback: Squam’s Crawford-Ridgepole Trail … or What I Love About New Hampshire | The Park Explorer·

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