Loon Mountain

"Five minutes from I-93. Great staff; nice town; fun area."

“Five minutes from I-93. Great staff; nice town; fun area.”

One key to Loon’s popularity may be its access road – Interstate 93. Well, there are three flat miles of NH Route 112 to traverse before one actually arrives at the slopes, but you get the picture. Loon is easy to get to, especially from the Boston Metro area. That accessibility and Loon’s ability to keep pace with the times make the mountain a genuine destination resort. Factor in a huge lodging base and a lively apr

If any resort knows about growing pains, it’s Loon. Situated on the outskirts of Lincoln and adjacent to White Mountain National Forest, the New Hampshire resort has what readers describe as an edge-of-the-wilderness setting tempered with “good lifts and variety,” plenty of slopeside lodging and the added bonus of being “right off the interstate.” (It’s ranked No. 1 in the East and No. 9 on the continent for Accessibility.) But therein lies the rub. Loon, praised as a “good family resort,” prized for its “long runs” and earning high marks for its terrain parks and scenery, has long been a victim of its own popularity. “The mountain can’t handle the volume of skiers” and can be “absurdly crowded,” especially on weekends, readers say. For years, a promised expansion languished. Relief finally came last winter with the opening of the first phase of South Peak. It hasn’t eliminated the crowds yet; only two trails were open last season, so skiers didn’t stick around for more than a couple of runs. This season, two more trails will lure and hold more skiers on South Peak. One, a steep, twisting and narrow descent called Ripsaw, is expected to become the resort’s most challenging trail – tough enough to help dispel the notion that Loon is generally too blue. The new terrain provides Loonies with long views up into craggy Franconia Notch. It also gives them a glimpse of future possibilities. Short of continued expansion – which is planned but likely still a ways off – the only other way to reduce Loon’s problematic popularity is to move it farther from Boston. – Hilary Nangle

The Latest

Two new trails totaling 14 skiable acres on South Peak; addition of 20 fan guns and 50 tower guns; new Magic Carpet replacing the Handle Tow, which will be moved to provide access from Sarsaparilla’s summit to Snubber

The Deal

Boyne Resorts” New England Pass is good at three northeast giants: Sunday River and Sugarloaf, Maine, as well as Loon. Unrestricted adult Gold passes are $949 (before Oct. 13). Silver passes are $649, with 12 blackout dates (days where only a crowd-loving masochist would want to ski anyway).

Don’t Miss

Cruiser, a wide blue highway with a playful disposition and great views into Franconia Notch

Local Secret

On Sunday mornings, park at South Peak, ski for an hour, then hit the omelet bar in the South Peak base lodge, open 9-10:30.