Bicycling Magazine

Sandwich, NH: Squam Lake Loop 

Tour classic New England countryside and savor superb views of the tranquil Squam Lake on this 27.4-mile loop starting in Sandwich.

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Author: Bicycling Magazine
Date: 30 Oct 2009 8:54:45 PM
Activity: Bicycling
State: New Hampshire (NH)
Distance: 27.38 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 1337 ft
Total Loss: 1333 ft
Net Change: 5 ft
Difficulty: 5 / 10
Tags: Center Sandwich, New England, New Hampshire, Sandwich, Squam Lake, White Mountains
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

This 27.4-mile, counter-clockwise loop circles the serene Squam Lake, passing several quaint colonial towns and a few moderate climbs along the way. Starting from Sandwich Central School, ride north to begin the tour of central New Hampshire's thick woods, rolling hills, and charming country roads. Less than half a mile in, turn left on Holderness Road (NH 113). Nestled between the ridge of the Squam Mountains to the north and Squam Lake to the south, you'll pedal through a dense forest on the shoulder-less, yet lightly-trafficked Holderness Road until reaching the town of Holderness near mile 12.

Next, navigate nearly 6 miles of rollers along the lake's southern shore before hitting the ride's most challenging ascent: a 0.9-mile churn gaining just over 400 feet and averaging an 8.5-percent grade. After the climb, enjoy an exhilarating descent before heading north along Squam Lake Road. Near mile 24, you'll pedal directly between the shores of Squam to the west and the ascending slopes of nearby Red Hill (2,029 feet) to the east. Finish off with 3 more miles of rollers and return to your car.

-Mapped by Mark Kish

TO TRAILHEAD: This ride starts at Sandwich Central School. From I-93, take exit 24 for US 3/NH 25 and turn right at Daniel Webster Hwy. Follow for 4.4 miles. Turn left and head north on NH 113 for 11.4 miles. Turn right on Squam Lake Rd. School is on the right in 0.4 mile.

Position Format: Datum:

Plymouth, NH: Squam Lake Loop

Distance: 27.38 mi Points: 448
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
# Distance Instruction Distance to next
1 0.00 mi Start - Sandwich Central School Then go 0.35 mi
2 0.35 mi Turn left at NH-113 W/Skinner St Then go 11.61 mi
3 11.96 mi Turn left at Daniel Webster Hwy/NH-25 W/US-3 S Then go 4.76 mi
4 16.72 mi Turn left at New Hampshire 25B W/Plymouth St Then go 2.94 mi
5 19.66 mi Turn left at Kelsea Ave Then go 0.21 mi
6 19.87 mi Turn left at Bean Rd Then go 4.26 mi
7 24.13 mi Continue onto Squam Lake Rd Then go 0.87 mi
8 25.00 mi Turn left to stay on Squam Lake Rd Then go 2.38 mi
9 27.38 mi Stop - Sandwich Central School

Points of Interest

Sandwich Central School

Location: 43.803144, -71.442756
Leave your car in the parking lot at Sandwich Central School and head north on Squam Lake Road to begin the counter-clockwise loop. For a hillier workout, ride the loop clockwise. © Mark Kish

Sandwich Central School

Location: 43.803148, -71.442649
Start and end your ride here. © Mark Kish

Center Sandwich Town Common

Location: 43.806861, -71.440433
Settled in 1763 and named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, the town of Sandwich has two sections: North Sandwich and Center Sandwich. Cycle through the quaint downtown of Center Sandwich on your way to NH 113, which runs along the northern shore of the lake. © Mark Tish

Holderness Road

Location: 43.802819, -71.490440
Featuring rural New England scenery at its best, the narrow, two-lane Holderness Road slices through lush woods past quiet country houses. Though shoulders are non-existent, low traffic makes this road cyclist-friendly.


Location: 43.793030, -71.526575
One of the ride's steeper climbs, this 1.4-mile climb up Holderness Road gains 204 feet at an average 2.5-percent grade.

Winter Views

Location: 43.773573, -71.554470
Though shrouded by leaves in summer and fall, the Bennett Cove section of Squam Lake may be visible through the bare trees during winter.

Shadebush Cove

Location: 43.743135, -71.569748
Catch a glimpse of Shadebush Cove through the trees as you continue tracing Squam Lake's western shore. You'll follow rollers until reaching the ride's next major ascent near mile 18.


Location: 43.731802, -71.588084
Popular today among tourists because of its idyllic location on the shores of Squam Lake, Holderness was settled in 1759 as a fishing and farming community. It's named after Robert Darcy, the Fourth Earl of Holderness. © Mark Kish

Daniel Webster Highway

Location: 43.731259, -71.587912
Cross a bridge dividing Squam Lake and Little Squam Lake as you turn left to head east on Daniel Webster Highway.

Steep Climb

Location: 43.702878, -71.502457
At mile 17.6, begin a short but steep 0.9-mile climb, gaining 408 feet at an average 8.5-percent grade.

True Summit

Location: 43.710556, -71.484089
As you glide past the southern tip of Proctor Preserve, a 47-acre Wildlife Sanctuary managed by the New Hampshire Audubon Society, begin the last push to the true summit of the hill you just climbed. This short, 0.3-mile climb will bring you from 853 feet to 916 feet above sea level and is the highest point of the ride.

Steep Descent

Location: 43.711417, -71.478338
After reaching the climb's true summit, enjoy a brake-burning, 0.9-mile descent. Grades can reach almost 11 percent on this harrowing downhill. © Mark Kish

Red Hill

Location: 43.773705, -71.479744
Catch views of Red Hill, elevation 2,029 feet, as you head north on Squam Lake Road. From here, less than 3 miles of rollers separate you from the end of the ride and your car parked at Sandwich Central School. © Mark Kish

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