The culvert under the dam was closed on March 16th and the water level in the lake should now start rising. The lake should be "full" by mid to late May. The water level and weather are carefully monitored and boards are added to/removed from the dam to raise the water level to summer levels while avoiding flooding.
To ensure the cleanliness and health of Sunset Lake, the SLA has performed water quality testing annually since 1984. Visit our Water Quality Testing page to learn more about the testing and results. See the Beach Information section below about bacteria testing at the Hampstead town beach.
The SLA does not own or manage the Hampstead Town Beach and does not maintain responsibility for the public beach or its usage. The following information is provided to the SLA community as a courtesy.
The Hampstead Town Beach is on Ells Road off of Kent Farm Road, is owned by the Town of Hampstead, and managed by the Recreation Commission. The beach is open to town residents and the public. Parking at the beach requires a beach permit sticker available for purchase at the Hampstead Town Hall. Cars parked without beach stickers should be reported to the Hampstead Police Department at 603-329-5700.
NHDES monitors bacteria at fresh water beaches in NH and provides advisories when appropriate. The town lists advisories on their Water Testing page and you can also subscribe to get town email notifications. The SLA refers all inquiries about bacteria counts and beach closings to NHDES and the Hampstead Recreation Commission.
Fishing is a favorite past time on Sunset Lake and is popular in all seasons, including ice fishing in the winter. Visit wildlife.state.nh.us for the latest information about dates and seasons, rules, regulations, licenses, etc.
Note that the use of lead sinkers and jigs with a total weight of one ounce or less has been illegal since 2016. Loons and other water birds can die from lead poisoning after swallowing lead tackle lost by fisherman. Visit the NH Fish and Game Get the Lead Out web page or fishleadfree.org for more information.
There is no public boat launch on Sunset Lake. Launching is available at the Hampstead Town Beach for those with waterfront property, right of way, or deeded access to the lake and is controlled by a locked gate and is seasonally restricted to certain hours. Non-motorized vessels (i.e. canoes, kayaks, paddleboards) can be launched via the beach as long as no swimmers or sunbathers are disturbed. Visit our Boating Information page for more information about launching, permits, and rules and regulations for boating on the lake.
The SLA maintains the lake water level through monitoring weather conditions and adjusting the dam. The water level is drawn down annually, typically starting Columbus Day so property owners can perform fall and winter shoreline maintenance and to minimize the risk of flooding during the spring thaw. All boards are removed from the dam in the fall and the culvert below the dam is opened. How low the lake water level gets is ultimately dependent upon mother nature. The SLA starts to raise the water level in the spring by closing the culvert and adding boards back to the dam as soon as the ice is gone. The water level and weather are carefully monitored to avoid flooding during this process. The water level is typically back to summer levels by mid to late May. The SLA recommends performing shorefront maintenance in the fall and winter since the ice-out date varies per year (as can be seen at the bottom of this page) and it is important that the dam is closed at ice-out to give the best chance of the lake filling by the end of May.
As members of the Sunset Lake community, using appropriate lakeside landscaping practices is one of the primary ways we can help prevent degradation and possibly even improve the Sunset Lake water quality. There are New Hampshire laws governing certain aspects of landscaping at the water's edge including building and maintaining retaining walls and beaches. Visit our Lakeside Landscaping page for more information.
Invasive plant and animal species can have a detrimental effect to the quality of a lake and can negatively affect property values. As an association, we take a proactive approach in monitoring our lake for invasive species. Visit our Invasive Species page for more information.
Campfires, Fire Pits, Chimineas, and brush burning are allowed around Sunset Lake. However, an annual permit must be obtained each year from the Hampstead Fire Department and you must call the fire department at 603-329-6006 each day that you wish to have a fire. Visit the Hampstead Fire Department burning permit page for more information and rules and regulations. Please be sure to have your fire away from the water's edge with no burn debris entering the lake.
We have been recording the ice in/out dates since 2007 and these dates are shown in the table above. There are various ways to judge ice-in/out: we use an ice-in date when the lake is 80% covered with ice and an ice-out date when the lake is 80% free of ice. The ice cover has little to do with the health of the lake or water quality, but rather is dependent upon the weather conditions for the particular season.
The 2015-2016 season was interesting since there were significant areas of open water at different times throughout the winter season. The last 4 seasons were interesting since they had two ice-in and ice-out dates with 80% or more of the ice disappearing in between.
NOTE: These dates are fun to look at to see the impact of the weather on the lake ice over the years. However, these dates should in no way be used as an indication of when the ice on the lake may or may not be safe for human travel. Please use responsible practices for judging whether the ice is safe or not. Visit the NH Fish and Game Ice Fishing in NH page for more information on ice fishing, including articles on how to judge whether ice is safe for travel and other information on ice fishing safety and tips and tricks