Due to the COVID-19 situation, for the safety of town employees and residents, the town can not provide lifeguards or bathrooms at the beach. NHDES will not be testing for bacteria. Parking will be limited to reduce crowds and it is "swim at your own risk". Swim area buoy lines were put out on June 9th. See the Beach Information section below for more information.
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.
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 Department. 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 SLA refers all inquiries about bacteria counts and beach closings to the NHDES.
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 situation, the town can not provide lifeguards, it is "swim at your own risk" at the town beach, and everyone should follow social distancing guidelines. As of 6/24, one porta pottie is available and all parking is open. As per their advisory website, NHDES will not be testing fresh water beaches for bacteria for the summer of 2020, but the town appears to be doing bacteria testing with results listed on their water testing page. See the Hampstead Recreation page for the most up to date information and please direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 is responsible for maintaining 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 prevent flooding during the spring thaw. All boards are removed from the dam in the fall. 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 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.
As of 5/20/2020, the 3rd and last board was put in the dam to maintain the water level for the summer season.
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.
Note that during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, you can obtain your annual permit by calling the fire department and they will mail the permit to you.
We have been recording the ice in/out dates since 2007 and these dates are shown in the table above. The ice-in date is the date when the entire lake is covered with ice and the ice-out date is the date when the lake is completely 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 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons were interesting since they had two ice-in and ice-out dates with a complete thaw of the ice 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
Many other lakes also keep track of ice in/out dates and NHDES allows each lake to log their ice in/out dates in a central database. Visit the NHDES New Hampshire Lake Ice-In and Ice-Out Records page for more information