Most of Lake Winnipesaukee’s shoreline is privately held, making it off-limits to recreational boaters and paddlers. But thanks to the efforts of the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, a few places on New Hampshire’s largest lake remain open to the public. (See also “Stonedam Island Paddle“)
One such gem is 11-acre Ragged Island, which features two sandy beaches, docks where powerboaters are allowed to tie up, latrines, and a nature trail. LRCT acquired the island (along with neighboring Little Ragged Island) in 2007, under a conservation easement held by the town of Tuftonboro.
Sunrise Beach (on the east side) and Sunset Beach (on the west side) are the most popular places for beaching a paddle craft and taking a swim. These areas are roped off in season to prevent powerboaters from entering.
Near the southern tip of Ragged you’ll find a handsome shingled building with a wide porch that once served as the summer residence of well-known composer and conductor Wheeler Becket and his wife, Jane. The couple owned the island from 1936 to 1979. Also on the southern end of Ragged are a series of wooden docks protected by a stone breakwater where powerboaters may tie up for up to three hours while they go ashore.
LRCT reminds visitors that Ragged and its surrounding waters are loon territory, so boaters are urged to keep at least 150 feet away from any loon or loon nest.
Ragged Island is located north of the Broads, with Little Bear Island to the north, Cow Island to the east, Sandy Island to the southwest, and Long Island to the west and northwest. The nearest public boat launch is Harilla Landing on Long Island, northwest of Ragged. The average paddler can reach the island in roughly 30 minutes in light winds. The Nineteenmile Bay boat launch, to the northeast, is another option.
Paddlers should of course pay close attention to the weather before launching a trip to Ragged, as the route takes you across open water exposed to the south and northwest. Also, be aware that boat traffic can be heavy in the area, especially during summer.