Lincoln, New Hampshire: From Mill Town to Ski Destination

Lincoln, New Hampshire Riverwalk Resort

Tucked in the heart of New Hampshire, sprawling across 131 square miles of varied terrain, lies the town of Lincoln. A place that resonates deeply with my personal skiing experiences going back as far as my senior year in high school, Lincoln has transformed remarkably since its incorporation in 1764. From a bustling mill town to a premier ski destination, its journey is a testament to community resilience and visionary leadership.

Lincoln’s early days were defined by the rhythmic sounds of sawmills and paper mills. These industries were the lifeblood of the town, but as they began to decline, Lincoln reached a crucial turning point. Sherman Adams, a former Lincoln Paper Mill employee who rose to become Governor of New Hampshire and Chief of Staff under President Eisenhower, stepped in at this juncture. He utilized his significant White House influence to garner approvals for the Loon Mountain Ski Area, which opened on December 27th, 1966, effectively reshaping the town’s future. Today, under the management of Boyne Resorts, this ski area stands as a symbol of Adams’ foresight.

I can remember going to the ski area when it opened, and I was pretty impressed with the hexagon-shaped lodge, which was pretty unique back in the day. As a long-time skier on Loon Mountain’s slopes, I’ve observed its evolution from a fledgling ski area into a renowned destination. The scenic drive from the Lakes Region along Route 93, with New Hampshire’s picturesque landscape unfolding around me, is a cherished ritual. Loon Mountain, with its superior lift system, diverse trails, and several mountain peaks, offers an exceptional skiing experience. But Lincoln’s appeal extends beyond Loon. Skiing destinations like Cannon Mountain and Bretton Woods up the road, as well as Gunstock Ski Resort in my backyard, enhance the region’s winter sports landscape.

A recent notable development is the expansion at South Peak Mountain at Loon. This project, featuring state-of-the-art lift systems, luxurious ski homes, and new condominiums, signifies Lincoln’s ascent in the skiing world, merging comfortable living with ski-in/ski-out access.

Beyond skiing, Lincoln serves as the gateway to the Kancamagus Highway, a 34.5-mile national scenic byway. Renowned for its stunning fall foliage and framed by the majestic White Mountain peaks, this scenic byway offers one of the world’s most exquisite natural displays of color. Lower Falls along the Swift River is a popular swimming hole, and there are numerous hiking trails along the byway.

The town of Lincoln also thrives in its vibrant day-to-day life. An array of restaurants, cafés, and eateries, complemented by the nearby Woodstock Brewery and two other breweries, provides a rich culinary landscape. Quaint ski shops, retail centers, and outdoor equipment stores dot the main road leading to the ski area. The town’s accommodation options are just as diverse, ranging from quaint B&Bs, the New Hampton Inn, to opulent resorts like Riverwalk, catering to every taste and preference. Large portions of the town are within the White Mountain National Forest. The Appalachian Trail crosses the northern corner. A portion of Franconia Notch State Park, the renowned Flume Gorge, and extensive hiking trail networks lie within the town. 

Lincoln’s array of recreational activities further enhances its charm. The Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain is nearing its final completion and expansion that includes luxury units, a second restaurant, an incredible winery, a spa, and a ballroom with one of the largest outdoor lagoon pools in New England, the annual Highland Games at Loon Mountain pulls thousands of spectators each year, the Hobo Railroad, Clark’s Bears, and the Whale’s Tail Water Park offer varied experiences for all ages. During winter, the town transforms into a magical landscape with the enchanting Ice Castles.

The real estate market in Lincoln mirrors the town’s appeal. Currently, there are only 14 residential listings for sale, not including quarter shares, with a median listing price of $569,400. The market spans from affordable homes around $285,000 to luxury properties peaking at $3,450,000, reflecting a wide appeal. The percentage of second homeowners versus primary homeowners is staggering.

In essence, Lincoln stands as a living tribute to the power of collective vision and effort. Its evolution from a mill-dependent town to a hub of skiing and year-round recreation is a story that deeply resonates with me. Each visit, each descent down the slopes of Loon Mountain, reinforces the remarkable transformation of Lincoln. To me, Lincoln is more than a mere destination; it symbolizes the enduring beauty of New Hampshire and the extraordinary capacity of a community to adapt and thrive amidst change.

This article was written by Frank Roche. Frank is president of Roche Realty Group with offices in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Data was compiled by a NEREN search on 12/27/2023 and is subject to change. Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.

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