Crescent Lake, formerly known as “Crooked Pond,” is a body of water about a mile long, through which flows Smith River on its way from Lake Wentworth to Lake Winnipesaukee. The outlet is controlled by a town-managed dam in the western bay.
The lake has no islands and no year-round tributaries apart from the Smith River flowing from Wentworth.
Mast Landing, off Route 28, offers the only public boat access to both Crescent Lake and Lake Wentworth. Travel from Crescent to Wentworth via the Smith River requires passage under the Whitten Neck Road bridge, a low structure with little more than a boat’s width between its piers.
Like Wentworth, Crescent has no marinas and no sources of boat gas.
It is believed that, before construction of a dam in the 18th century, the area now covered by the lake may have been marshland, with a stream meandering through it.
According to the Walter Bowman’s history, Lake Wentworth, the lake was the scene of a “great sheep-raising scheme” in 1910 — the Crescent Lake Land and Live Stock Company. The history, completed in 1956, quotes the Granite State News at the turn of the century as opining, “The organizers of this company are not only hustlers, but practical business men,” and “such enterprise will not only be a lasting betterment to our town but to the surrounding towns, also.”
But, according to Bowman, the “ranch” intended to produce the wool, meat, and breeding stock — and incidentally to house stockholders at cost — did not prosper.
The Cotton Valley Rail Trail, which follows the tracks of the former Wolfeboro Railroad, runs along a stretch of the Smith River as it flows towards Crescent Lake.
Goodwin’s Basin, a body of water cut off from Crescent Lake by the railroad fill, is considered to belong to this lake. A marker on the Cotton Valley Rail Trail notes the location on the shore of the basin of Edwin V. Moody’s ice house, where cut ice for New England households was stored from 1895 to 1965.
Today, the shores of the lake are densely packed with homes, many of them year-round, that can take advantage of municipal water and sewer service from the town.
Variable milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), an invasive aquatic plant from the Midwest, arrived in Lake Winnipesaukee in 1979 and found its way to Mast Landing at Crescent Lake the following year. Since then, the lake has been the site of an ongoing effort by succeeding lake organizations to manage, if not eliminate, the invasive weed.
The lake water volume flushes 31 times each year. That high flushing rate leaves it less susceptible to watershed nutrient loading, despite its more intense development and nutrient loading per acre compared to Lake Wentworth.
Artificial pond controlled by a dam at the outlet to the Smith River
Altitude: 534 feet
Size 1,148 acres
Shoreline: 3.8 miles
Tributary to Smith River
Max depth: 21 feet
Average depth: 9.9 feet
Fish species: Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, horned pout
Public boat access: Mast Landing
Trophic status: mesotrophic