Someday, I will finish reviews. I promise. Still to go are Loon (this post), Okemo, Sugarbush, and Jay Peak… and any others I manage to sneak in before spring officially takes over.
Anyways… Loon. The day after Valentine’s Day I decided to head up to Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire. It’s one of those mountains that as you’re driving on 93 North you keep doing a “I think I see a slope. Is that a slope?” and then all of a sudden a massive ski area just jumps out of you. Pretty awesome, huh?
Location: Loon is about an hour and a half from Manchester, New Hampshire. I’ve gotten there before in two hours and somehow just a little over an hour (foot must have been glued to the gas), so it’s one of those variable, but really easy drives. Just get on 93 North and drive. Cell reception is awesome the entire way, and the roads are usually fine even with some iffy weather.
Parking: One of these days I’ll actually figure out Loon parking for real, but for now I just keep finding a spot in the big lot between the two main lodges and it all works out. There are other lots though in case it’s really busy, and there’s also the South Peak parking lot too. If it’s your first time there, just aim for the North Peak side.
Ticket Counter/Guest Services: I don’t ever remember having a problem with any of Loon’s staff, and they all seem very willing to answer questions and help out. Thanks!
Price: Loon’s lift ticket prices are pretty comparable with mountains of similar size, but they do have some pretty sweet ways of saving money if you plan to visit a few times. There’s the Frequent Skier Card, which is $97 (I think it’s $87 at the Boston Ski Show). It includes a lift ticket, but then also saves you $25 off lift ticket prices on mid-week days and $15 on weekends and holidays. Also be sure to look into the season passes if you really like Loon. While they are definitely not cheap, they give you access to Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf. That’s a lot of trails.
Lodge: I’ll be the first to say I’m not a fan of Loon’s Octagon Lodge. Great concept but always feels insanely full and hectic. I can never find a seat nor have I figured out where to put my bag. So this time around I decided to park near the Governor’s Lodge and call that home. Turns out that was a great decision. The Governor’s Lodge is a beautiful lodge, very open, lots of space, and tons of places to put your bag. Be sure to check out the on mountain lodges too!
Lifts: Looking at the map now, it looks like I rode almost every chairlift Loon has with the exception of the smaller ones. All of them are in great condition with great staff. The most unique lifts though are the Gondola (longest lines too usually) and the Tote Road Quad. The Tote Road Quad is the first lift I’ve ever been on that actually gets visitors from one peak to another in both directions, so it’s rather amusing to be passing by people while you’re riding along. I think I’m easily amused.
Trails: A lot of people love Loon, and I can see why. The views are pretty fantastic and the trails are wide and open. I’m a fan of the classic New England feel with the really interesting and always changing trails, so I had a hard time finding something that truly hit the spot. My pick of the day would probably be Cruiser though. It’s not the longest trail, but I had fun nevertheless. If you’re looking for the best view, take the Gondola up to Loon Peak, head down Haul Back and Lower Walking Boss, and then back up the North Peak Express Quad. Best views of the entire mountain are when you round the corner on Sunset.
After working up an appetite on the mountain, it was chicken tender time. I decided to head back to Governor’s Lodge to feast. For $7.79 I got 5 small tenders and a whole lot of fries. Interestingly, the meal came on a real plate so I temporarily felt special and not like I was eating fast food.
The fries were pretty great. Just crunchy and seasoned enough, and with so many I kind of wanted to make a meal off of them. (Side note: I love potatoes. I’m also a mashed potato connoisseur). The chicken on the other hand looked good, but just wasn’t crunchy enough. It would have been far better had they cooked it just a little longer.
Final Score: 3 out of 5 Tenders