Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire is one of the true entry points to The White Mountains. The White Mountains, along with The Presidential Range have a reputation for some of the worst, most unpredictable weather in the world. Loon Mountain is not setting any records for wind speed or other extreme weather conditions but don’t let this little New Hampshire gem get away from you. When asked where to ski for a thrill, maybe a chill, but a really good hill, I recommend Loon Mountain.
Accessibility is the first thing I think of when Loon comes to mind. It's literally right off exit 32 from I-93, hence the Exit 32 sticker you and your buddies might have seen on the back of some rusted out 4Runner. It’s also a reference to the Kancamagus Highway which, in sort of a nostalgic way, acts as an access road to one of New Hampshire’s finest ski areas.
How to Ski Loon Mountain.
It depends on the day and the people you're with but breakfast, either way is a must. It’s just too easy, because you have to drive through the center of town to get to the hill. On the franchise side of things, who can beat a McDonald’s hash brown, seriously? On the support small, local business’ side of things, Half Baked & Fully Brewed has sandwiches, panini’s, bagels, muffins coffee and a staff of ladies that are truly out of this world. The funny thing is, it will probably take just as long to get a hash brown out of the worlds slowest McD’s as it would for a homemade Yum, Yum from HB&FB.
Once everyone’s fed and it's mid week (non-holiday), it comes time to pick which lodge to operate out of for the day. This will have an impact on which side of the lot you park on. On the weekends this won’t be an issue because the only options will be to park far away or farther away. If anyone in your group or family has to rent skis or a snowboard you will want to head to the Kancamagus lodge on the skier's right side of the main parking lot. I personally like the Octagon Lodge on the skier’s right side of the parking lot. The gondola is located right next to it and the bar (The Paul Bunyan Room) is just above it.
Hop on the gondola and shoot up to the top of the mountain. Once up top, traverse over to the North Peak Express Quad. The run under the lift is usually in some form of the term “rough shape” so continue your traverse over to Lower Walking Boss, a nice wide blue to get warmed up on. Do your best to make a bunch of turns to get warmed up, Loon is west facing which means a cold morning is a really cold morning. The Walking Boss Woods are a fairly new glade on skier’s right that has some really fun sections; hit ‘em if you’re up to it! Once you’re at North Peak I recommend lapping it at least once and making a B-Line for it on Brookway, the mellow run-out to the base area, to warm up on the gondi.
Now that you’re back at the summit, it’s time to head down Angels St., A killer black diamond with a super fun pitch. This trail is tough to lap due to the east basin double not being open very often; this also means it’s lapped less often so the snow holds really well on this north-western facing slope. I usually head over to South Peak after lunch, it’s a bit of a commitment to head over to South Peak but the new terrain Loon has been opening on this hill has been phenomenal. Ripsaw is Loon's only double black diamond and it is located right underneath the Lincoln Express Quad. I have seen this trail totally groomed out and totally bumped up, either way it holds true to its name and rips! Boom Run is also a blast and seems to always have a ton of whales to play on for the better part of the trail.
The terrain parks Loon Mountain has to offer are some of the best on the east coast. These are some of the biggest most, stable jumps I have gotten to ride and they are consistently in great shape. Loon also seems to have an endless array of jibs and rails which they are constantly revamping and recreating to keep things interesting, serious props to the park crew. I also like the fact that they manage to squeeze a nice little half pipe in at the bottom of the park. So many days, I have wrapped up at Loon with one last run through the pipe…if you can think of a better way to end a day, let me know, I’m open to suggestions.
Before leaving town the Woodstock Inn and Brewery is a must for anyone who eats. Packed full of Hearty cooked meals and homebrews, this place is sure to please the hungriest of shredders.