A strong case can be made for Loon Mountain being New England's most accessible big mountain resort. Just two hours north from Boston and three hours from Providence, the mountain base parking lot is a mere three miles east of a major Interstate exit (Exit 32 off I-93 North, for Lincoln/North Woodstock), and it serves up a menu that includes 61 trails and 2,100 vertical feet for both skiing and snowboarding.
Lincoln, NH is the more commercial of the two adjoining towns straddling the interstate. With an assortment of strip malls and shops along Main Street, as well as a number of small locally-run eateries and ski shops, the town’s main drag is surprisingly bustling considering its modest size. Then there's North Woodstock, just two miles away on the west side of I-93—a tiny mountain town with roughly 500 full time residents and an endless amount of quaint, New England charm.
Loon’s 61 trails—all with northeast exposure—are spread across a trifecta of separate and very distinct peaks. The mountain’s layout and terrain provide a host of unique elements to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Maybe most important, given recent winter weather fluctuations, Loon has invested heavily in its snowmaking, and is now considered one of the pre-eminent mountains in the East in that regard.
The 3,050-foot North Peak is the highest point on the mountain, sitting out on the resort’s easternmost boundary. While a bit off-the-beaten-path in terms of distance from the base, this is where you’ll find adventurous skiers heading out early in the day, especially on a day when there’s fresh powder.
A great way to jumpstart a day on the slopes begins by taking the gondola to the top; then, traverse over to the North Peak Express Quad. You’ll be able to do a short run over to Lower Walking Boss, which is a wide glade and a great warm-up, with room for plenty of gentle turns.
Expert trails like Upper Walking Boss and Upper Flume are where you’ll find some of the best snow on the mountain.
Another interesting run starts at Sunset and continues over to Haulback. Sunset may offer up some of the best panoramas of the surrounding mountains ringing Loon. Sunset to Haulback also offers a “bailout” of sorts, if you start down Upper Flume and realize your skills aren’t up to snuff for expert terrain.
Camp III at the base of North Peak is a log cabin-style lodge. It’s a great place to make a pit stop and refuel with an exotic sampling of bratwurst that happens to be made with alligator, bison, and other wild game, or perhaps a cup of their warm venison stew. During those halcyon spring skiing days with blazing sunshine, Camp III’s deck is the best place to cop a tan.
Loon Peak is the mountain’s colorful centerpiece. You’ll also find a family zone for skiers in the midst of this area. Intermediate trails worth visiting are Lower Picked Rock, Blue Ox, and Rampasture.
If you crave a more intimate skiing experience, then Loon’s new South Peak area might be perfect for you. With its own entrance, south of the main base area, this peak feels like your own private ski area.
Once on the mountain, you’ll find a dozen newer, intermediate, and advanced trails, all served by a single, high-speed quad. This means minimal waiting, or none at all. In fact, with its own separate base area, South Peak offers longtime Loon devotees a new and very different skiing experience than they may have encountered in the past. This was developed by design, as access to this area of the mountain is available only by shuttle, or the Tote Road Quad.
It’s more than different for the sake of being different, too. There’s some fabulous terrain that offers challenges for skiers of all abilities. The trail lineup now at South Peak includes Boom Run, a great intermediate with a bit of a long outrun; Rip Saw, for experts, with a no-fall zone; Cruiser, with beautiful views; and Uppercut and Jobber, which are sort of in the middle-to-intermediate range.
Oh, and there are some spectacular views of Franconia Notch, too.
When you’re done skiing and craving a bite to eat, their lodge is utilitarian, but has some decent food options.
South Peak allows you to spend a good part of your day skiing, without ever having to hit Loon’s busier base area, where the larger crowds are likely to be. And from the top of Loon’s newest peak, you have the option of a connector lift, which allows you access to the resort’s other terrain.
With its varied terrain, trails for all-levels of skiers (and snowboarders), as well as peak-related diversity of experiences, Loon Mountain Resort offers the total package for anyone considering a weekend in the gorgeous White Mountains of New Hampshire. If you haven’t been in a few years, Loon offers a host of new features and perks for families, as well as hardcore ski rats and snowboarders.