Loon Mountain, located in Lincoln, New Hampshire is one of the most accessible ski resorts in the East with a variety of terrain that will suit every skier, especially if you enjoy park skiing. Loon’s terrain parks grabbed top honors from Freeskier Magazine, claiming #1 Parks in the East for its mile-long Loon Mountain Park that is home to the only superpipe in New Hampshire. The pipe is massive and intimidating at 425 feet long with 18 foot high walls. This is a park where you can really send it and if that isn’t your jam, it is still fun to watch some of these kids throw massive backflips off many of the jumps. The resort is also known as a family mountain with a plethora of activities such as snow tubing on the Lil Sister trail, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or a thrilling 700 foot zipline ride over the frozen Pemigewasset River. However, if you are tired of doing laps on the black diamond trails and glades located off of the North Peak Express Quad and need a break or want to head over to Loon Peak, there is an activity that you will not find on the resorts website or one that the myriad of skiers who visit Loon every year even know exists. So, what is this top secret, Area 51 activity?
The secret activity is...there is a bird “sanctuary” on the North Peak of Loon Mountain Resort where you can feed wild chickadees and nuthatches from your hand! To access the “sanctuary” ride the North Peak Express Quad to the summit of North Peak and ski off to the right and proceed to access the blue square, intermediate trail Sunset. The chickadee haven is approximately 100 yards past the entrance of the Sunset trail and located on the left. You will see a sign that marks the area as a place where you can feed the birds. There is a trail through the woods to a small opening where you can feed the birds.
So, how do you get the chickadees to eat from your hand?
For starters, the colder the temperature the better because birds need more fuel to warm their bodies in cold, winter weather. In the cold winter weather the birds are more courageous when foraging for food. Thus, this is a dead of winter activity, since the colder weather increases your chances of luring one to your hand. However, you will also need some patience and sunflower seeds (you need to bring your own). Step one is to get comfortable, stand still and be quiet and let the birds come to you. While the birds at Loon Mountain are accustomed to eating from skier’s hand, it is still a matter of trust. The birds will flutter around you and check out your offering, but stay motionless and quiet because it is only a matter of time before these feathered- friends eat from the palms of your hands. Eventually, they will swoop down and grab the seeds, some will stay for a nano-second and others will get more daring and stay on your hand for many seconds. As the birds get comfortable with you, see how close you can move your hand toward your face and still have the birds land on your hand - you will be surprised how eye to eye you can get with the Black Capped Chickadee.
So, next time you are making a trip up one of America’s great ski highways, Route 93, on your way to Loon, be sure to include a bag of sunflower seeds for everyone in your party, so you can take advantage of this rare opportunity, that everyone is sure to remember.