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...Welcome to the .. B E L K N A P . . L A K E S ....In beautiful Alton, Gilmanton and Barnstead, New Hampshire .....a mostly nostalgic look at some mountainside lakes and ponds.....visit the Photo Gallery....say hello on the interactive blogs.....ENJOY YOUR VISIT!...



The Belknap Lakes are located 
in the shadow of the Belknap    
Mountains in Belknap County, 
NH in the towns of Gilmanton,  
Alton, and Barnstead. Included 
are Manning, Crystal, Sunset,   
Halfmoon, Locke  and the          
Suncook  Lakes as well as Hills,
Brindle and Huntress Ponds        


CRYSTAL LAKE DAM - PHOTO by MCDUDE - enhanced by Al Gaudette


Click photo to enlarge - View of Belknaps from Avery Hill in Alton near Hills Pond - Photo by dcr

Round Pond - Jewel of the Belknap Range - Photo by dcr
The Belknap Lakes comprise the Upper Headwaters of the Suncook Watershed.
used with permission
CRYSTAL LAKE - Click on the Photo to see more Lakes Region Aerials
This is the photo used in the banner image at the top of the page taken by dcr.
Here's dcr's narrative:
A panorama to the south, covering the viewscape from SE to SW. Winnipesaukee is to the left, Manning Lake & Crystal Lake are at right center. In the foreground are most of the southern mountains of the Belknap Range. A sharp eye can detect a tiny sliver of Round Pond at left center.
1892 Hurd & Co. Map courtesy RattlesnakeGal - Some Lakes have different names now.


Island Reflections on a Rainy Afternoon at Hills Pond - 5-28-05 - Memorial Day Week-end.
View of Belknap Lakes from Swett Mountain - CLICK to ENLARGE
Swett Mt is in the Belknaps, just S of Piper Mt. The left half of the photo shows mostly Mack Ridge. To its immediate right, in the midground are Goat Pasture Hill, Avery Hill and Shannon Mt. We see 4 lakes to the right of Shannon (L to R), Sunset, Eileen, Manning and Crystal. Nearly all you can see in the left half of the photo is part of the Hidden Valley Scout Reservation - the open area just below Manning Lake (the closest one) is an activity field of Camp Bell, one of the camps of the scout reservation. Beyond the field, on the far horizon you can see (large version) the bald summit of Prospect Mt (inspiration for the name of Alton's new high school).
commentary and photo by Dave Roberts (dcr)
THE SUNCOOK WATERSHED -  This watershed begins high in the Belknap Range (formerly called the Suncook Range) in the mountains of Gilford, with several streams and isolated Round Pond which flow into Manning Lake in Gilmanton. Manning Lake is in close proximity to Lake Eileen (at Hidden Valley Boy Scout Camp - formerly known as Lower Round Pond) and Hills Pond/Sunset Lake. All of these bodies of water flow into Crystal Lake in Gilmanton. From the Crystal Lake Dam the Suncook Brook flows into Upper and Lower Suncook Lake. From the Lower Suncook Lake Dam the Suncook River meets the outflow from Halfmoon Lake, Locke Lake and Brindle Pond. The Suncook River then flows through Barnstead, Pittsfield and Allenstown and eventually empties into the Merrimac River.

Click on the tabs to your left to visit each of the lakes and enjoy your visit! 

Suncook Pond Postcard - 1928

Pink Sunset on Hills Pond
Swimming at Crystal Lake - Photo Credit: Sue at Crystal Acres - thanks!
"Peaceful Stillness" at Halfmoon Lake
View of Manning Lake from Hiking Trail - photo by JG1222 - thanks!
Halfmoon Lake from North Barnstead Rd. June 2005 by McD
Crystal Lake Postcard - Postmark 1909
Fishing the Suncook River - 1948

 Where is the Suncook River Watershed located? According to NH Department of Environmental Services, the Suncook River Watershed is actually composed of two watersheds: the Upper and Lower Suncook River Watersheds. These are two of over 200 sub-watersheds located within the state of New Hampshire.  For our purposes, the two are considered as one.
·        The Suncook River Watershed is considered a sub-watershed of the Merrimack River Watershed.
·        The Merrimack River empties into the Gulf of Maine.
·        The Merrimack River Watershed is considered a sub-watershed of the Gulf of Maine Watershed,
·        and the Gulf of Maine is part of the Atlantic Ocean.  Over 70% of New Hampshire drains into the Gulf of Maine Watershed.
The highest point of the watershed is Round Pond, high in the Belknap Mountains in Gilford, NH.

According to Jewett, in the History of Barnstead, written in 1872, the Suncook River head watered in Gilford. “The drainage by the Suncook is so complete that it leaves no bogs or meadows to emit pestilence or to generate contagious disease.” (History of Barnstead, p.122) Today, according to DES Dam Bureau, the headwaters occur at Place’s Pond a.k.a. Sunset Lake which borders Alton and Gilmanton. Still other people maintain that Crystal Lake, a lake formed by the glaciers longs ago, are the true headwaters. The watershed itself exists in sixteen communities starting in the north with Gilford and Alton and ending in the south in Allenstown and Pembroke where the river empties into the Merrimack. 

The Suncook River Watershed What is the significance of the Suncook River Watershed to the region?Early settlers first arrived in this region in the early to mid 1700s. They came primarily from the New Hampshire seacoast communities, Long Island, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.By the time the first settlers arrived in this watershed, many of the Indians had left and gone north. They left behind the Indian name for the river: Suncook. It is believed that the name means “the place where the wild goose rested.” (History of Barnstead, p. 121)These settlers much like the Native Americans and the wildlife that were here prior to their arrival, used the river and its tributaries as a transportation corridor, as a food source, and later as a source of hydro power to run mills. Earliest dams built during the 1800s are still found in Gilmanton, Barnstead, Pittsfield, Chichester, Allenstown, and Pembroke.The Suncook Valley Railroad operated from 1869 through 1952. The old rail beds were laid alongside the river and can still be seen today although abandoned. The railroad ran from Suncook to Center Barnstead. (Information from the Friends of Suncook River Website.) 


"This time we see Round Pond from the south side, rather than the north. Suncook Brook, the pond's outlet stream, leaves a short ways from here (over a beaver dam, hence the dead trees in the water). The pond has no significant inlet streams and is essentially spring-fed. It flows into Manning Lake and is essentially the headwaters of the Suncook River. Mt Belknap is in the background."  photo by dcr.
From the Crystal Dam the Suncook River flows into Upper Suncook Lake

visitors have clicked on this site since 8:59 June 6, 2005.
Note from Webmaster: In June of 2005 I've begun to upgrade and expand this page. It began by including only Sunset Lake and Hills Pond in Alton. You'll see that the Sunset/Hills page is more developed. As people from other lakes express an interest, each lake's page can be expanded to include a photo gallery and a discussion forum that is unique to that lake. Please contact me with any ideas or suggestions. Feel free to use any photos without permission but PLEASE give credit to the photographer. Sign into the forum/guestbook, choose a name and say hello! Opinions expressed on the forum may not be those of the 'management' 
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Hills Pond and Sunset Lake in Alton, NH, Crystal Lake and Manning Lake in Gilmanton Iron Works, NH and Upper and Lower Suncook Lake and Halfmoon Lake in Barnstead, NH make up the upper headwaters of the Suncook River. 

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