Short lift lines, great price, easy to get there
Return from Lift 8, slow lifts, poor trail signage
Returned to Loveland for three days in January on a quick escape without the family. They have had plenty of early snow this year so almost everything was open, except for a few runs up off of Lift 9. On the first day I got there a little late and had to park at the Valley. I figured I would try the intermediate trails there to warm up since I had always skied the Basin before. Quickly determined that this was a good area for the kids and for learning, but not for me. So I quickly went to the bus to head over to the Basin. I wish they still had the chair running between the areas. Even though it takes just as long, I prefer to not have to take my skis off and cram into the bus with a whole bunch of people.
Weather was generally great for my three days. The first day it had been several days since the last snow and there were definitely areas that were getting stiff and a little icy. It snowed that night and conditions were great for the majority of the area after that. Temps stayed right around 20 at the base, which if you know Loveland, is pretty cozy for January. Will give my Basin review by Lift and I admit that my review is probably biased by my skill level (stuck right in that space between Level 6 and Level 7).
Lift 1. If you could only pick one lift at Loveland I think this would be it. Lots of variety from this single lift. I enjoyed Nix Nox and Richards Run for some good intermediate cruisers, Nix Nox gets nice and steep at the end and is a great tune up for some more difficult skiing. Conditions were fair on my first day. I enjoyed skiing Excelleration as it has some nice intermediate bumps and will lead you right over to Lift 6 or the Lift 2 mid-load. BTW, never load Lift 2 from the main area. It takes forever. You can get there quicker and have some fun skiing by taking Lift 1 and skiing to the mid-load. Also some great black runs down from this lift, although most exceed my skill level.
Lift 2- Most of the Lift 2 terrain trends more to the beginner/early intermediate skier. However, the runs that head off towards Lift 9 are great for those a little more experienced. I really enjoyed Tomahawk. My favorite run of the entire trip is one that isn't even on the map. In my first day I was attempting to get to Tomahawk (see poor signage) and ended up on a wonderful tree run that ran close to the Poma lift. Definitely narrow at times and with some significant bumps, but it was fun the whole time and kept me using all of my skills. Fire Cut is a nice cruiser for a warm-up or cool down.
Lift 6 has some nice easy intermediate skiing. A lot of the runs that are blues there are just on the fringe of green/blue. If you like to have a more natural less crowded skiing experience take the Dealer's Choice run. Enjoyed the South Blackjack run, but the rest of the runs off of this lift were take it or leave it for me.
Lift 4- Once you get to the Lift 4 area the tops of the runs area well above the tree line, and with limited signage it can get pretty confusing as to which run you are on. Additionally, during most of my time there the strong winds at the tops of Lift 4, 8, and 9 pretty much were blowing off all of the nice snow and leaving a crusty/icy surface that wasn't that much fun either. I did enjoy Scrub. The middle was groomed, but they left the bumps on either side. This is a great set up for working on your bump skills, but not having to worry if you will get over your head. If you are ready for a real bump challenge, Splashdown will provide it. Sunburst Chutes had some of the deepest nicest powder I have found on-piste anywhere. Zip Trail takes you over to the land of Lift 8. The rest of the trails up near the top of Lift 4 aren't really trails at all. It is wide open and they are just directions to connect up with trails further down.
Lift 8- Like Lift 4 the top did not have the best snow conditions. Adding to that the runs weren't all that interesting. Awesome just doesn't have enough pitch. Chet's Run and Tickler's Gulch are OK, but not worth the effort that the return from the Land of 8 will take. Oh about that---Getting back to the rest of the resort from the world of Lift 8 isn't very much fun. You can either take the traverse Zippity Split which will require some poling (or a lot if you don't allow yourself to build all possible speed on the downhill portions) or Option 2 is to take The Face trail. The trail can actually be some fun, but be warned that there is a section not much wider than your skis where you will have to trust that you will be able to shed speed in the short widening part before the tunnel. Then you have to take your skis off to walk through an icy tunnel (Hold the rope). If I could make one change to Loveland it would be for them to cut some kind of new trail from Tickler's Gulch down through the West Ropes to get to the Lift 4 base area from the Land of 8.
Lift 9- Windy. Visibility about 3-4 feet. Signage may have been poor or the visibility might have caused me to miss the signs. Best to go up here with a local or someone who knows the area. Eventually I looked down found a decent line and went for it figuring that as long as I kept Lift 4 in sight I would be fine. There is some great skiing up here, but should be with someone who knows the area.