Loon Mountain Sports retail manager Chad Walker grew up in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and has lived at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire, for two years. An avid paddler and cyclist, he knows the area’s myriad recreation spots for both summertime and winter, regularly hopping on his mountain bike or taking to his raft when shirking his retail duties. “This area is great for outdoor activities in the summertime,” he says. “The trails are endless and you can easily get away from the crowds. There are also lots of swimming holes and other fun places to explore. There aren’t many places where you can live in the mountains and have the beach within an hour and a half drive.”
Here are some of his favorite things about Loon Mountain:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: It’s got to be the quiet trails and lack of traffic. No matter where you go, you have them to yourself.
Place to mountain bike: I like heading to Franconia, Smarts Brook (in Campton), and the Highland Mountain Bike Park, which has tons of great ramps and jumps.
Place to road ride: Going out for a spin doesn’t get any better than the Kancamagus Highway and Routes 3 and 175–especially in the fall when all the colors are turning.
Place to ride with the family: Franconia State Park or the Highland Mountain Bike Park–both have tons of different trails that are perfect for the whole family.
Place to paddle (flatwater): I like heading to the Pemigewasset River from North Woodstock and down for a nice easy tour in your raft, kayak, or canoe.
Place to paddle (whitewater): The East Branch of Pemi River, from the Lincoln Woods trailhead to North Woodstock. It’s Class III and IV, depending on flow. You can also head to the Pemi at highwater for a great Class II run.
Place to paddle with the family: There are tons of spots, but I’d say either the Pemigewasset River, or Echo or Mirror Lake.
Place to re-fuel: Before your ride or paddle, fuel up at Half Baked or White Mountain Bagel. Afterwards, hit Gypsy Cafe for food.
Place for a beer afterwards: Two spots: Woodstock Station and Brewery or CJ’s Penalty Box.
Photo courtesy Loon Mountain, Walker