If you are interested in a relaxing getaway in New Hampshire’s Lake District, consider a trip to Ahern State Park. Ahern State Park is a 128 acre park located in Laconia, New Hampshire. Laconia is home to one of the nation’s largest motorcycle rallies every year in June, and the area is a popular tourist destination.
The grounds of the Ahern State Park originally belonged to the New Hampshire School For Feebleminded Children, which opened in 1901. The facility was later renamed the Laconia State School and treated adults as well as children. This institution housed individuals who were considered by the state to be mentally incompetent. In 1942, the facility held over six hundred people, and by the 1970s there were over a thousand residents. In response to a federal lawsuit and strong criticism of its treatment practices, the facility shut its doors in 1991. In 1994, the land the facility owned was transferred to the state of New Hampshire and was given the name Governer’s Park. Its name was changed to Ahern State Park in 1998. The facilities buildings were used by the New Hampshire department of corrections, but were closed in 2009. These buildings are not within the official boundaries of the park, but are nearby. Access to the former prison is not permitted, and the area is closed off to the public.
Fortunately, today’s visitors to the park can come and go as the please, and are free to enjoy all the offerings this park has to offer. Ahern State Park is located on Lake Winnisquam, which is the fourth largest lake in New Hampshire. Visitors to the park can access over 3,000 feet of shoreline. Non-motorized boats are allowed on the water, but boats with motors are not.
There are trails for hiking and biking. As you hike along the trails, you will be able to see beautiful views overlooking Lake Winnisquam. You can also fish in the lake. Both in-state and out-of-state residents are required to buy a fishing license. Single day passes are available for purchase. Minors under the age of 16 may fish without a license.
Ahern State Park is open all year long, and there is no admission charge. Pets are not allowed in the park, so you will have to leave Fido at home if you plan to visit. Most New Hampshire parks do not allow pets. There is parking and it is free. Toilet facilities are limited, however. There is only a portable toilet available for park guests. Park officials also ask that you pack out anything you bring into the park. The park is not staffed. If an emergency occurs, you will need to call emergency services. For more information about this park of any other New Hampshire park facility, you can call the park’s department at (603) 271-3556.