Sherman Adams, the former governor of New Hampshire and President Eisenhower's chief of staff, was key to making Loon Mountain Resort what it is today. After Eisenhower left the presidency Sherman returned to his beloved White Mountains in New Hampshire. During his college years he spent many a day and night hiking the mountains and trails as a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club.
Adams' love of the mountains actually started 40 years before leaving Washington when he worked for Lincoln, New Hampshire's Parker-Young Company. Sherman's job was to ensure the steady flow of logs to the Lincoln lumber mill. The rivers, streams and lakes provided the power needed to move and process the logs. The mill did last forever and essentially closed after World War II.
It was upon his return to New Hampshire that Adams' vision of Loon Mountain began to come into focus. While snowshoeing among the huge boulders and inclines Adams realized that Loon Mountain could become a destination for people to ski and enjoy the mountains in winter.
Adams knew from his stint in Washington that Eisenhower's Interstate System was not only key to the defense of our country but was part of the critical infrastructure that would drive tourism allowing people from large population centers to travel to destinations relatively easily.
The proximity of the planned Interstate Highway 93 to Loon Mountain would be key to its success. The coming together of the anchor town of Lincoln, a viable transportation system and the geography and topology of Loon Mountain would be key to its success making it one of the first destination ski areas in the East. Today, Loon is an easy two hour drive from the Boston area marrying both day and destination winter enjoyment.
In order to complete his goal of “skiers first” Adams teamed up with Sel Hannah, a fellow Dartmouth graduate and Olympic skier, on a development concept for Loon Mountain. Hannah had significant experience in developing ski areas with over 100 under his belt.
In December of 1966, after two years of development and preparation, Loon opened. Over 30,000 skier visits were made that first year. Loon was on track to becoming a success story.
Successive improvements occurred over the next several decades with an effective doubling of it size in the 1980s with more terrain being developed. A master development plan penned 1983 sought the development of South Peak which included the construction of private homes and condominiums. After almost 25 years this portion of Adam's vision was completed when Loon Mountain Resort opened South Peak for skiing and riding adding another 60 acres of terrain and two new lifts.
Today Loon touts the biggest skiing in New Hampshire with 2,100 feet of vertical with 47 trails, six tree skiing areas, six terrain parks, a superpipe and a half pipe. Loon has the only gondola in New Hampshire that services skiers and riders.
Those seeking more of a challenge can indulge themselves on Upper Flume on North Peak and Ripsaw, Upper and Lower Twitcher and Ripsaw on South Peak. If you looking to get some vertical done in a short time this is the place to be as there are generally shorter lift lines for the high-speed quad.
There are three lodges on the mountain including the Camp III Lodge on the North Peak which is only accessible by taking a lift or shoeing or skinning up the hill.
The entire mountain is easily accessible from different parking and lodging areas thanks to the Tote Road Quad that carries skiers and riders to South Pear and back.
It is uncertain if Sherman Adams would have fully envisioned what Loon Mountain is today. Snowboarders, high speed quad lifts, super pipes, magic carpets were probably not what he had anticipated.
What is consistent with Adams' vision was people getting out and enjoying the outdoors and in the White Mountains where he hiked and snow shoed during his days at Dartmouth.
For more information go to www.loonmtn.com