Rattlesnake Island (New Hampshire)

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A view of Rattlesnake Island from Mount Major

Coordinates: 43°33′58″N 71°17′15″W / 43.56611°N 71.28750°W / 43.56611; -71.28750 Rattlesnake Island is a large island in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. There are conflicting accounts of where it got its name, because its shape looks somewhat like a snake, but some say it is named for a rattlesnake population that lived there.[1][2]

The island is located within the town of Alton.

Topography and physical features[edit]

Rattlesnake Island is about 2 miles (3 km) long, and approximately 5 miles (8 km) around its shore. The topography varies greatly. Some sections of the island are quite steep, with the land rising steeply from the shore (affording views of the area), while other sections, particularly on the "peninsula", which protrudes from the southerly side of the island, rise gradually. Rattlesnake Island is the highest (in elevation) island on Lake Winnipesaukee. The top of so-called "Mount Rattlesnake" (the top of Rattlesnake Island is not officially named) is 874 feet (266 m) high - rising 370 feet (110 m) above the mean lake level.

Due to its great height, the island affords extensive views of the lake. There are hiking trails interconnecting with other parts of the island, and these are used frequently by island residents.[citation needed]

Rattlesnake Island Association[edit]

Island property owners are required to join the Rattlesnake Island Association, including payment of yearly association dues.[citation needed] In addition to owning land on the island itself, the Rattlesnake Island Association owns a mainland area to the east of Smith Point in Glidden Cove which includes short-term docking, a boat launching ramp, and two large parking areas for residents and guests. There is also an area for the parking of boat trailers.

Electric power and wired telephone service is available to all parts of the island. As of 2016, DSL service from Fairpoint Communications is available to most parts of the island, but other services such as cable or fiber optic services are not available.

Conservation land[edit]

At one time, interior lots were to be sold for development. However, this did not occur, and the interior of the island is now set aside as a conservation area. The easterly half (more or less) of the island's interior is owned by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, while the westerly portion of the interior is owned by the Rattlesnake Island Association. The Lakes Region Conservation Trust maintains a dock at the far southeastern end of the island, and Conservation Trust members are permitted to dock there and access the hiking trails.


  1. ^ Gallup, Ronald W (1969). "Lake Winnipesaukee". Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  2. ^ "I can honestly say, however that the name came from the fact that there were 'rattlers' on the island. I can recall a Weirs Reunion Week exhibition of 'rattlers' caught on the island by experts. A few years ago it was possible to follow down the east shore of the island in a small boat on a bright, clear day, and see one or more snakes on the ledges in the sun. During lumbering operations on the island workmen have been bitten by them. On as least one occasion the island was burned over in an effort to exterminate them, once and for all. But the ledges that are their natural habitat were their natural protection against the fire, and, crawling deep into the rock clefts, they escaped the flames. I have not heard or seen any definite proof of the presence of snakes on the island in recent years." Quoted in Blaisdell, Paul (1975). Three Centuries on Winnipesaukee. Somersworth, N.H.: New Hampshire Publishing Company. 

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