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Michaella Sheridan | 05.24.2018

When that wonderful summer heat embraces New England, there's no better place to cool off than New Hampshire's Lakes Region. Here, you can swim, paddle, hike, and enjoy a cruise all in the same day. The region features three main lakes, with the biggest being Lake Winnipesaukee. The shoreline of this 72-square-mile lake is dotted with vacation homes and boat ramps that are all hugged by a verdant forest. The city of Laconia is the hub for the region, and with plenty of hotels, inns, restaurants, and activities, it is the perfect place to begin your Lakes Region visit. From Laconia, only a short drive separates you from these amazing adventures: 

  • Mount Major Loop: At 3.1 miles, this hike is great for all levels of hikers, and it offers an amazing wide-open summit where you can relax and enjoy views of the lake below. Bring a picnic and spend the afternoon enjoying the mountaintop. 
  • Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail: This hike is around an hour and a half from Laconia, so wake up early to beat the crowds on this popular trail. There's an easy route up for families and beginners, but the Holt Trail offers a challenging rock scramble up a bald slab to the summit. Five miles total, this hike is a great way to start the day, and it will get you down in time to enjoy another adventure or two. 
  • Lake Winnipesaukee Back Bay Paddle: While you're in the Lakes Region, it only makes sense that you set aside an entire day to enjoy the water. Since motorized boats speed across Winnipesaukee, paddlers enjoy the laid back bays and coves that trace the 72-square-mile lake. Back Bay offers a scenic paddle with opportunities for birdwatching and nearby parks and restaurants so you can dock for lunch and a stroll. 
  • Red Hill Fire Tower via Red Hill and Cabin Trails: For unparalleled views of the Lakes Region and even glimpses of the White Mountains, head to the fire tower on top of Red Hill. The 3.4-mile hike is a great route for all levels of hikers and would be a great midday adventure or a sunset excursion (just don't forget those headlamps!). 
  • Squam Lakes Natural Science Center: Spend a day learning about all the amazing wildlife that calls the Lakes Region home at this interactive Science Center. The 0.75-mile Live Animal trail allows visitors to observe forest animals including coyotes, bobcats, foxes, river otters, and more! After exploring the raptor exhibit, follow the scenic hiking trails to the top of Mount Fayal or take a side trip to Kirkwood Gardens to enjoy beautiful spring and summer flowers. Cap the day off with a Squam Lake Cruise tour and enjoy dinner with a sunset. 
  • West Rattlesnake Mountain: This quick 2-mile hike offers some of the best views of the Lakes Region. The easy-going trail makes this is a great adventure for those relaxing days when you just want to chill out and enjoy the scenery. 

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