GILFORD — On Route 11, about a mile west of Ellacoya State Park, a scenic overlook perched above Lake Winnipesaukee offers an expansive view of The Broads, the open stretch of the lake, and to the White Mountains beyond.
You can get there from here, but you can't see there from there for the trees.
The overlook is atop a steep slope approximately 800 feet from the lake. Scenic Road, which is lined with residences on both sides, runs down below, between the highway and the shoreline. The slope immediately adjacent to the overlook is covered with saplings, mostly oak and birch, which have grown to obscure the view of the lake and leave only glimpses of the mountaintops. Older, taller trees fill much of the space between the highway and Scenic Road, providing a second screen.
Bill Boynton, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), said that tree cutting to preserve scenic vistas is often problematic, particularly if the trees obscuring the view are not within the state right-of-way, but growing on property owned by other public entities or private individuals or corporation. For example, he said that the DOT negotiates with the United States Forest Service when cutting along the Kancamangus Highway between Conway and Lincoln.
Moreover, Boynton noted that tree cutting is a labor intensive operation and, particularly during the construction season, not high on the department's list of priorities. This year, with the department about to exhaust its federal funding and the state budget still hanging in limbo, he doubted there would be resources to clear the view.
Meanwhile, the kiosk at the overlook includes a schematic spanning the view from the spot from Sandwich Mountain to the west and Mount Shaw to the east. In the middle, between the two, 47 miles away, stands Mount Washington, while visitors are asked "Do you see Mount Washington in the distance?"
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