Location: Off Rte 3A, Bristol, NH
Activities: Swimming, picnicking, fishing, hiking
Amenities: Bathhouse, picnic tables, boat launch
Acreage: 204 acres
Waterfront: Newfound Lake
Number of Campsites: None
Pets: Pets are not permitted at this beach.
More Information: Day-Use
Located on the shore of Newfound Lake in Bristol, 204-acre Wellington State Park boasts the largest freshwater swimming beach in the New Hampshire state park system. Hiking trails and picnic areas along the shore afford views of one of the deepest and clearest lakes in the state. Two group picnic pavilions are located in the main picnic area. A well-marked hiking trail leads from the park and provides hikers access to Goose Pond, the Sugarloafs, Bear Mountain, Welton Falls and Mt.Cardigan. A developed boat launch area provides boaters access to Newfound Lake.
One dollar; what will it buy today? In 1931, for one dollar and the generosity of an ecologically-minded summer visitor from New York City, the state of New Hampshire obtained the deed to Wellington Reservation. It was "to be forever kept as a public forest reservation, to be used for the development of a bird sanctuary, for public recreation, . . and for any purpose tending to the promotion of forestry." A bronze plaque located at the beginning of the Peninsula Trail expresses the public's indebtedness to Elizabeth R. Wellington who deeded the land as a memorial to her father, Aaron H. Wellington. Two nearby islands, Belle and Cliff, were granted to the state in the 1940s. An additional parcel, purchased from the Follansbee family, was later added to the property. The Wellington Reservation, with the islands and Follansbee land, make up what is now Wellington State Park.
Wellington is one of the many parks in the country that benefited from the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was created by President Roosevelt in the early 1930s in an effort to help bring an end to the Great Depression. The CCC, often referred to as Roosevelt's tree army, was designed to utilize the country's many unemployed youths in natural resource conservation efforts. The beach, picnic areas and original buildings at Wellington were created by the CCC.
The park's significance as a sanctuary for wildlife is based on the variety of habitats found there. The park is primarily forested with a variety of tree species, including hemlock, pine, beech, maple and poplar. The forest in interspersed with marshes, scrub-shrub wetlands, and man-made clearings, such as grassy parking areas and woods roads. The different habitats, in close proximity to each other, produce an edge effect, or an area of especially rich habitat, with the benefits of two habitats together. One of the many species of wildlife that benefits from the abundance of edge areas in the park is the raccoon.
A variety of songbirds, including robins, thrushes, flycatchers, warblers and sparrows frequent the park. Blue jays and chickadees are the predominant winter birds. Ruffed grouse and woodcock are the only two upland game birds found at the site. Migrating Canada geese and a variety of upland birds pass through during the spring and fall. A transient endangered peregrine falcon or bald eagle may occasionally be seen, though they do not linger. Common loons inhabit the lake area and infrequently, there have been signs of nesting attempts.
Fishing is a welcome and popular activity in the park. Fish commonly caught are lake trout, rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass and yellow perch.
Located on the shore of Newfound Lake in Bristol, 204-acre Wellington State Park boasts the largest freshwater swimming beach in the New Hampshire State Park system. Hiking trails and picnic areas along the shore afford views of one of the deepest and clearest lakes in the state. Two group picnic pavilions, available for reservation, are located just off the beach in the picnic areas. The park also maintains volleyball and horseshoe courts. The Snack Bar offers a variety of snacks, ice cream, cold drinks, beach and picnic items, and souvenirs.
Within the park, the peninsula nature trail features picnic areas, designated fishing areas, plant identification markers, and spectacular views of Newfound Lake and Cliff and Belle Islands. A well-marked hiking trail leads from the park and provides hikers access to Goose Pond, the Sugarloafs, Bear Mountain, Welton Falls, and Mt.Cardigan. A developed boat launch operated by N.H. Fish & Game adjoins the park, providing boaters free year-round access to Newfound Lake. Boat lanes along the beach allow boater access to the park for the regular admission price.
Organized youth group camping is offered at Wellington on both Belle and Cliff islands. Reservations are required for youth group camping and may be made by calling the park directly at 603/744-2197, from mid-May through the summer season.