I had not skied Loon in years, 17 to be exact. I remember because I was skiing with my daughter in a backpack (that is no longer allowed). Loon keeps popping up in my ski report research, often with the most open ski acreage in New Hampshire, thanks to an investment of over $20 million in the past five years - much of it in snow production.
Loon was still blowing snow on several trails that already had serious base depths last Friday, demonstrating their power of 600 new tower guns (that is not a typo) making quiet, light dry snow. As a bonus, Mother Nature dropped 8-10 inches of fresh snow Friday morning on top of Loon's manmade groomed.
With the addition of South Peak, opened in 2008 after 25 years of planning and permitting, Loon now sprawls across three peaks, offering a variety of runs from the steeps of Flume on North Peak, to classic curvy trails from the centerpiece Gondola - Flying Fox, Picked Rock and Bear Claw, to South Peak's wide, well-pitched new trails.
I had not expected South Peak to be so inviting, six trails of varying steepness, Ripsaw being the gnarliest and Cruiser the most tame. A swift Lincoln Express Quad accesses these long runs at South Peak, and a cozy Pemigewasset Base Camp yurt at the base provides services and a yummy burrito bar. South Peak's terrain is well worth the short but scenic Tote Road transportation quad from Loon's main area, and spreads out skiers and riders on busy days at Loon.
Park rats must love Loon's amped up offerings in recent years, Loon now builds legit terrain parks loaded with features and even a Big Air Bag for soft landings. Loon has also added eight glades to their trail map of 61, the only terrain not yet open this season.
But not everything at Loon has changed. The signature silver gondola remains as a speedy ride to Loon Peak. Angel Street was as steep as I remembered, but it was perfectly coated with fresh snow from Friday's storm and I was among the first down this daunting trail. I was relieved to ski the same great run on Walking Boss with beautiful views of Mount Washington. Loon's lower mountain still offers a dozen ego-pleasing intermediate trails like Rum Runner, Rampasture and Blue Ox.
My recommendation, if you haven't skied Loon in awhile, you should. Sneak away midweek to Loon if you can, stay in one of the many condo properties in Lincoln, or on the slopes at The Mountain Club at Loon. On Sunday afternoons, Loon tickets are only $25 from noon to 4pm (except 2/19). Bring your camera; the surrounding White Mountains beg to be photographed.
Photos by Greg Burke
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.