As one of the only shoreline public access points to Lake Winnipesaukee and located close to a dive shop, McKinney Park is a favorite amongst local divers. Divers have to hike down a short hill, but there is a series of stone steps leading down towards the water. After a few feet of rocks and boulders, you’ll find a sandy bottom. Donning fins and gear may be done here without fear of creating silt clouds.
Depths of 30+ feet are easily attained relatively close to shore, though 50+ feet depths are available. Please note that there is a thermocline during the summer, so hood and gloves are suggested if your plan is to go beyond 30ft.
Amongst the granite and rocky mounts, you’ll find an abundance of freshwater fishes. The most common being the Red Eye Rock Bass. These fish are accustomed to divers feeding them the local freshwater mussels, so don’t be surprised when they follow you about your dive.
The entry requires balance and focus, but after a few steps amongst the rocks you’ll find the flat sandy area. Remember to utilize your buddy if needed – the short distance from shore to the sand allows you to hand gear off as needed.
New Hampshire has different flag regulations than CT and RI, be sure to check out state flag regulations. There are places where you can tie off your flag, but be mindful of heavy boat traffic during the summer months.
Unlike most saltwater fish, many of the fish here are not skittish and will often follow you around hoping to get fed. Local divers will feed them the freshwater mussels that line the bottom…certainly makes the local Bass, Trout, and Sunfish captive audiences! For a list of the local species, check out this lake fish chart. Remember to look behind you every once in a while, there might be a whole school of fish following you around!
There are several things that attract people to the site. There are a few old geocaches, a old boat dubbed “Bumblebee”, a rock wall, and many rock piles covered with fishes. Unlike many lakes, the bottom here was glacially made resulting in heavier bottom composition (aka it doesn’t silt out as easily as others).
Parking can be limited, but there’s plenty of street parking. Easy enough to drop your gear off and then park a little ways away. There are no entry fees; the signage states park is open from dawn to dusk.