Echo Lake has been the centerpiece of tourism to Franconia Notch since the 1850s. The Profile House, a grand resort that once stood just south of the lake, operated a steam-powered paddle boat on its waters. Today, people explore the 38 acre lake in canoes and kayaks and still enjoy swimming and trout fishing just as visitors have for over a century-and-a-half. The beach on the north shore is operated by the NH State Park System and is a convenient place to enjoy these activities.
Adjacent to the beach you will find a plaque honoring Philip Wheelock Ayres, the first Forester of the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. Ayres was a leading voice in the conservation movement; the plaque recognizes him for his role in the creation of both The White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch State Park. Ayres publicized the deforestation of the White Mountains and organized influential groups to lobby congress for their protection. He also orchestrated a grass roots fundraising campaign to purchase Franconia Notch for the state in the 1920s, saving it from the lumber companies who were poised to buy it. The movement to save the Notch included US Veterans lobbying to preserve it as a war memorial, school children selling adoption certificates for trees in the forest, and The NH General Federation of Women’s Clubs adopting the cause as a civic duty. The results of Ayres’ efforts are visible today from this spot – Franconia Notch preserved as a State Park and hundreds of thousands of acres outside it federally managed as a National Forest.
Directions to Next Site:
At the next stop on the Week’s Act Legacy Trail, Cannon Mountain, you’ll have further opportunity to enjoy the beauty and recreation of Franconia Notch. Return to the Franconia Notch Parkway and head south, taking Exit 34B to arrive at the base of Cannon’s Aerial Tramway.