Loon Mountain was the first stop for this skier on a recent week-long skiing adventure in the western mountains… of New Hampshire. I prefaced my trip there with a story several weeks ago, “Grand views, great skiing make me looney for Loon Mountain.”
Well, I’m here to say that the trip was some kind of good fun, most especially the couple of days spent on the well-groomed slopes of Loon. Why such a good time you ask? Did I really get looney at Loon? Let me tell you 10 very good reasons. And yes to that second question…
1. ENJOY THE GREAT SNOW AND AWESOME SKIING
Despite a challenging month of December weather-wise, Loon has been making tons of snow and grooming it up just fine. Somewhere around 48 of the mountain’s 61 trails were open when I visited and all were in phenomenal shape for skiing. If you’re not familiar with Loon’s vitals, here they are: The 61 trails are a pleasant mix of 20% novice, 60% intermediate, 20% expert. Powerful, energy-efficient snow making blankets 99% of the mountains. There are 6 terrain and 8 tree skiing areas. Twelve lifts get you where you want to go on the 3 mountains peaks, which offer an impressive 2,100 feet of vertical.
2. DRINK IN THE MOUNTAIN VIEWS
Revel in the magnificent jumble of snowy summits that stretch far and wide from west to north to east as far as your eyes can see. The Kinsman Range and Cannon Mountain; the peaks of Flume, Liberty, Lincoln and Lafayette; Owls Head and Garfield, and the Bonds stall tall among the countless square miles of national forest and wilderness. Drink it in all day long from every which on the mountain.
3. RIDE THE GONDOLA
The venerable 4-person gondola gets you from the Octagon Lodge to the top of Loon Peak and the heart of the skiing. Make laps on the gondola until it gets too busy or simply head skier’s right to North Peak and the steeps of Upper Walking Boss and Upper Flume. Meander skier’s left to get to the Tote Road Quad, your gateway to South Peak and my favorite trails, most especially Twitcher, Jobber and Rip Saw. Cruiser and Boom Run work equally well.
4. CHOW DOWN AT SLOPESIDE DELI
Located next to the Octagon Lodge and a stone’s throw from the gondola station, the Slopeside Deli serves up some excellent chow, like delicious burgers and sandwiches, soups and snacks. I highly recommend the steak and cheese sandwich with slaw and a pickle. For something like $10 it was a monster meal and a half. Delish!
5. CHOW DOWN MORE AT BABE’S BLUE OX
Another terrific lunch spot (breakfast too!) is Babe’s Blue Ox in the Governor Adams Lodge situated at the western edge of the big base area parking lot and next to the base of the Kancamagus Express Quad. Go for the mondo 8-ounce cheeseburger and a bowl of soup to warm your belly and bones. The clam chowder was a winning side for sure. Lots of other tasty delights are available.
6. RIDE THE TRAIN
The J.E. Henry Railroad shuttles skiers along the base of the mountain all day long between the Octagon Lodge and the Governor Adams Lodge. The train is a throwback to the narrow-gauge White Mountain logging trains of more than a century ago. The antique steam locomotive originally burned coal but was retrofitted to burn wood when it arrived at Loon in the 1970s. It is a must-ride!
7. APRES AT THE PAUL BUNYAN ROOM
Located upstairs in the Octagon Lodge, the Paul Bunyan Room is considered by mountain locals as the birthplace of après ski at Loon Mountain. The place features 24 beers on tap, live music, a host of TVs, and a lively, fun atmosphere for après or later into the night.
8. HAPPY SKIERS EVERYWHERE
How do you make a great ski day Loon even better? Have a beer at 10:30 in the morning like these two happy skiers! I waited until at least noon, but hey, it’s happy hour somewhere all the time, right?! Seriously, Loon skiers are pretty darn happy from everything I observed, certainly a sign of a mountain well—loved.
9. VISIT THE ICE CASTLES
A short hop from the mountain on the west edge of Lincoln is the New Hampshire Ice Castles, a wild and wonderful display of frozen archways, tunnels, slot canyons, stalactites and thrones, glimmering in glacial blues and frosty white. It’s fun everything during the day, but if you can, go at night when the ice formations are glow with the help of thousands of multi-colored LED lights.
10. GET COMFY AT THE MOUNTAIN CLUB
Every so often you’ve just got to treat yourself to some nice ski in-ski out lodging, and the Mountain Club at Loon is just the place to do that. Adjacent to the Octagon Lodge, the hotel is not only close to everything, it has everything. Think nice rooms, a health club with sauna, hot tubs and pool, the Black Diamond Pub and Seasons Restaurant for a fine breakfast buffet as well as dinner. Check for specials and packages that make a stay at the Mountain Club more affordable than you might think.
Loon Mountain is just 98 miles or 2 hours 45 minutes from Portland via ME 25, ME 113, NH 16 and NH 112 (Kancamagus Highway).
MORE INFO: Loon Mountain, 800-229-LOON.