March 20, 2016: A lap around Lake Opechee

Now that it’s officially spring, and this year has set a new record for earliest Ice-Out, you’ll be seeing more than hiking (but still lots of hiking) in this spot.

Hubby and I took advantage of the sunny (but cold) weather this weekend to clean up the chunks of asphalt left in our front yard by the snowplow, set up the patio furniture (just two chaise lounges and two side tables), and best of all, get the gas grill back out of the shed. The reason that last part is the best, is that it means I can now get my bike out of the shed!

I took it out for a quickie 2-mile ride yesterday just to test things out. But my fingers were freezing and I didn’t have gloves, so I headed back home. Today, though, I was prepared and wore my hand-knit mittens (since my bike gloves have no fingers). I also wore a hand-knit hat under my bike helmet.

I headed out a little after 1:00 PM, under sunny, blue skies. I love doing a lap around Lake Opechee – it’s short enough to be a quick ride (under an hour) but long enough that I consider it worth getting the bike out.

In order to get from Elm Street in Lakeport to downtown Laconia, I take the WOW Trail (Winnisquam-Opechee-Winnipesaukee). It’s a nice, but incomplete, trail – the completed trail is intended to connect lakes Winnisquam, Opechee and Winnipesaukee. Currently, the trail is a little over a mile long, running from Elm Street in Lakeport along Lake Opechee to Main Street in downtown Laconia. Phase 2, expected to begin this year, will add another mile to the trail, connecting it to Lake Winnisquam. The final phase of the trail, which is going to be tricky due to problems with a gated community along the way, is to run from Lakeport up to Weirs Beach, connecting the trail to Lake Winnipesaukee proper. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever see that phase completed in my lifetime.

Click on any of the photos above to enter the gallery and read captions (note: the photo of the mural is from summer 2014, just to show you one of the non-lake sights along the trail).

The WOW Trail is a year-round, multi-use rail trail for non-motorized traffic, located alongside railroad tracks (this section of the railroad is typically not in use, though). The only train that uses these tracks at all is the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, which only runs from late May through late October. In the winter, the railroad tracks become a snowmobile trail. Hubby and I use the WOW Trail often to walk downtown, whether to visit Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, do some shopping on Small Business Saturday, attend the NH Pumpkin Festival, or just walk a lap around Lake Opechee.

After stopping at the Messer Street boat ramp to take some pictures, I took a shortcut up Opechee Street and Oak Street to get to North Main. After following North Main, I took a right onto Old North Main for a route with a little less traffic, rejoining North Main/Parade Road across the street from Ahern State Park. Near the intersection of Parade Road and Elm Street, I took a right on Anthony Drive to avoid driving through the busy intersection (and the non-existent shoulder on that narrow end of Elm Street). This ride ended up being about 7.5 miles, including a quick ride halfway down Paugus Park Road before heading down to the WOW Trail.

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