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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: January 23, 2015

Skiing: Ten very good reasons to ski (and stay) at Loon Mountain

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.

Great snowmaking and grooming have kept the trails at Loon in awesome shape. Photo © Carey Kish.

Great snowmaking and grooming have kept the trails at Loon in awesome shape. Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

Oh those White Mountain views... Loon has them! Photo © Carey Kish.

Oh those White Mountain views… Loon has them! Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

The venerable Loon gondola at Loon is fun to ride and gets you right into the heart of the skiing action. Photo © Carey Kish.

The venerable Loon gondola is fun to ride and gets you right into the heart of the skiing action. Photo © Carey Kish.

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!

The mondo steak and cheese at the Slopeside Deli is phenomenal! Photo © Carey Kish.

The mondo steak and cheese at the Slopeside Deli is phenomenal! Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

The burgers and soups at Babe's Blue Ox will make your day. Photo © Carey Kish.

The burgers and soups at Babe’s Blue Ox will make your day. Photo © Carey Kish.

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!

Ride an authentic locomotive - the J.E. Henry - between the base lodges at Loon. What a hoot! Photo © Carey Kish.

Ride an authentic locomotive – the J.E. Henry – between the base lodges at Loon. What a hoot! Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

The Paul Bunyan Room in the Octagon Lodge is the birthpace of apres ski at Loon. Photo © Carey Kish.

The Paul Bunyan Room in the Octagon Lodge is the birthpace of apres ski at Loon. Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

Happy Loon skiers throw down a couple brews... at 10:30 AM. Yeah! Photo © Carey Kish.

Happy Loon skiers throw down a couple brews… at 10:30 AM. Yeah! Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

Like Elsa from Frozen? Then you'll surely enjoy a trip to the Ice Castles! Photo © Carey Kish.

Like Elsa from Frozen? Then you’ll surely enjoy a trip to the Ice Castles! Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

Treat yourself to slopeside accomodations with all the amenities at the Mountain Club at Loon. Photo © Carey Kish.

Treat yourself to slopeside accomodations with all the amenities at the Mountain Club at Loon. Photo © Carey Kish.

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.

 

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