36-Forever Wild? – Lake Tarleton SP

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Probably the best way to explore this park would be by boat…which I didn’t have.  In the early 1990’s a developer planned to build homes on the shore of this beautiful lake, bordered on one side by the White Mountain National Forest.  But plans fell through – just a few lots sold and a recession temporarily dropped the bottom out of the housing market.  So, like Northwood Meadows State Park, Lake Tarleton started on its path to becoming a state park.

The few homes that sold are still there but the rest of the lakeshore property was bought by the Trust for Public Land and eventually, after many years, sold to the federal government to be added to the National Forest, with the westernmost tip being sold to the State of New Hampshire for a state park.

So the state park is actually very small, consisting of a beach, a few buildings left over from the developer, and a few acres of land.  With the beach containing a solitary picnic table, I can officially declare this park undeveloped.

This being a chilly Saturday in November, I had the park to myself.  Mt. Moosilauke with its first snow cover of the season could be seen in the distance although the snow hadn’t gotten this far downhill.  Chatting with a local landowner (one of the lucky ones on the lake) confirmed that although there was a trail partway around the lake, I would make more progress by starting at the boat launch at the far end of the lake.  Walking past the beach, the park trail leads to the dam and outlet from Lake Tarleton, but beyond that point the trail dwindled dramatically.  I decided to go hike the nearby AT instead of bushwhacking.

But a boat would change your experience of this park immensely.  This large lake never has a crowd.  I can’t speak to it directly, but there was plenty of evidence that folks enjoy fishing there.  I’ve been here in the fall and this whole region can be absolutely beautiful when the colors are peaking.  Lake Katherine, on the other side of the road, is also beautiful, so if the light isn’t right on one lake it should be terrific taking photos of the other.  Happy travels!

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