Bow Lake

About Strafford

Bow Lake:
Bow Lake is in Strafford, with a small portion of the lake within the boundaries of Northwood. Once known as Bow Pond, it was dammed in the 1800s for mill power, which increased its size. The mills have long gone, but 1,149 acres of beautiful Bow Lake remain.

The Bow Lake Dam:
At the southeast end of Bow Lake, the Bow Lake Dam marks the beginning of the Isinglass River. The dam is owned and maintained by the State of NH. NHDES Dam Safety & Management

Public Swimming:
On each side of the dam is a public swimming area. Please be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty. Swim at your own risk. Children 12 and under must be supervised by an adult. Check NH DES Healthy Swimming Mapper for updated Advisories and Warnings: NHDES Healthy Swimmer

Carry In/Carry Out Trash:
There are no trash receptacles. Visitors are required to carry out their trash.

There are public portable bathrooms available during the summer months.

Parking: Parking is limited.


Invasive Species: One of the biggest threats to New Hampshire’s lakes is the spread of invasive species. Always clean, drain, and dry your boat, trailer, and gear between uses in different bodies of water. NHDES Invasive Species

Boat Registration: NH requires registration of all motorized vessels in addition to sailboats and sailboards 12 feet or longer. (Non-motorized canoes, kayaks, and small sailboats do not need to be registered) Visit the NH Fish & Game Website for more information: NH Fish & Game

Boat Licensing: Everyone 16 years of age and older who operates a motorboat over 25 horsepower on New Hampshire waters must have a boating education certificate. Visit the NH State Police Website for more information: NH Boating Education

Boat Ramp Access:
There is boat ramp access on Water Street. Parking for boat trailers is limited.

Water Quality & Public Safety:
The NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) works to educate people and protect our water. NHDES Protect NH Waters
Chech NH DES Healthy Swimming Mapper for updated Advisories and Warnings: NHDES Healthy Swimmer

Cyanobacteria in NH and How You Can Help

Polluted runoff water from the landscape is a major threat to New Hampshire’s lakes. NHDES Watershed Info

Water Drawdown:
Bow Lake has a water drawdown of 4 feet every October to prevent ice damage. This is managed by NHDES. NHDES 2023 Drawdown Schedule.

Loon & Eagle Preservation:
Bow Lake has a breeding pair of eagles that nest on Bennett Island and several pairs of loons that frequent each summer. The Bow Lake Camp Owner’s Association hosts a Loon & Eagle Preservation Program. BLCOA Programs

Events & Programs:
See Community Links for events & programs held around Bow Lake.
Strafford Community Links

Helpful Links:
NH Fish & Game – NH Lake Access
NH Fish & Game – Website
NH DES 2023 Drawdown Schedule
NH DES Water Quality & Information