With lots of elbow room and cruisers galore, Loon Mountain is magnificent

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FAMILY CRUISE DAY SPECIAL: There's plenty of room for family skiing at Loon (Rochester Voice photos)

LINCOLN - Maybe it's the COVID or maybe it's Mondays, but if you like skiing the pristine cords of an open cruiser from mountaintop to bottom Loon Mountain may become your skiing mecca.

How this mountain evaded my skiing synopses for 50 years is beyond me. I guess it's because growing up my family always gravitated farther north up Route 16 for their winter getaways, and I just carried on the tradition.

Breaking that pattern was a distinct pleasure.

PICTURE PERFECT: Looking out from Upper Bear Claw on a gorgeous summit view

First off, Loon is a bigtime mountain ski area with a small mountain feel which makes you feel right at home right away.

The base footprint is tight, so everything is close, from the rental shop to that first ride up the Kancamagus quad or the Kissin' Cousin double close by.

From experienced novice to expert you can be confident riding the gondola to the top of the mountain; the ski area has plenty of wide open cruisers you can spend your time with as you amble down taking in the spectacular White Mountain National Forest views.

In all they boast 61 trails with 48 open on Monday and Tuesday when I skied.

Folks take a midmorning break for coffee on a sunny day at Loon base lodge

I must confess I spied several comfortable cruisers on the east side my first morning and just hung out there for two days taking either the gondola to Loon Peak or the Kancamagus quad, which goes a little over halfway to the top.

It should be noted that there are plenty of options here for all abilities, with 60 percent of the trails intermediate, 20 percent expert and 20 percent novice.

It didn't take long to be impressed with a couple of things: first that the trail signage here is impressive, with plenty of indicators of "more difficult" spur trails as you amble down the mountain at your own pace.

There's also multiple "family skiing" sections mid-mountain where yellow banners strung across wide packed powder slopes urge advanced skiers to remain cautious.

THERE IS A SKI SEASON TURN TURN: Heading down Exodus just below Loon peak

Wanting to stay off anything too challenging I stayed off the North Peak where there are plenty of black diamonds and no novice outlets.

The trails I did come to enjoy included Exodus, with its wide sweeping turns, and Upper Bear Claw and Lower Bear Claw, which bring you right back to the gondola.

From the top of the Kanc quad I jumped on the Grand Junction that turned left on the Lower Picked Rock - which wasn't too rocky (intermediate) - to get back to the main lodge whenever I wanted a snack.

Even in early afternoon when the crowds began to thicken it rarely took more than 10 minutes in a lift line to head back up the mountain. And with COVID rules in place, that was with just one person to each gondola, quad or double unless you were a family member. By the way all the way till noon I never waited more than a minute or two.

Loon Communications manager Louise Smith said today they expect to stay open through at least April 11, except for the Governors and West Basin, which will close on Sunday so they can begin work on the newest project, the Kancamagus 8 chairlift.
For those with COVID concerns masking and social distancing are strictly practiced at Loon Mountain Resort.

For more info click here.

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