The story of Hansel and Gretel notwithstanding, there is something special about getting lost in the woods, especially when you’re on skis.
Skiing the trees is like skiing an entirely different world at most resorts. Duck into a glade and notice the quiet, the sounds of the outside world suddenly muted.
On sunny days, diffuse light, filtered by tree branches, dapples the snow. On stormy days, when visibility is near zero elsewhere on the mountain, glades offer welcome relief in a landscape of grey and white.
There are no big bad wolves, evil stepmothers or mythic demons in a skier’s woods.
Just a welcoming fairyland of deeper snow and tighter turns.
The Best Tree Skiing In North America?
For the past two seasons, Liftopia.com and I have pulled together some really fun lists. We’ve posted questions on Facebook, Twitter and TheSkiDiva.com Forum, asking skiers and snowboarders to nominate their favorite runs and resorts.
With your suggestions, we’ve pulled together lists of North America’s favorite groomed runs and North America’s favorite mogul runs. Today, we’re sharing the best resorts in North America for tree skiing.
We make no claim that the lists are complete or exhaustive. They’re simply conversation starters. If we’ve missed your favorite glade, help us build the list by leaving a comment.
Trees for All
If you ski or snowboard with children, you know that ducking down tiny trails into the trees is nearly irresistible for anyone under 4 feet tall. And while we adults may have a tough time dipping low under branches as we chase our kids, many of us are equally enticed to venture into the woods.
As we went through the suggestions, one thing was quite clear. The best resorts for tree and glade skiing, have something for every ability and for every size.
Two resorts, which met the criteria of “trees for all,” are Whitewater Ski Resort and Red Mountain Resort.
Located in interior British Columbia, these neighboring resorts enjoy deep, dry snow and an international reputation for hard-core winter fun. They both have great terrific trees and glades, that range from easy to difficult.
As one skier put it, “the tree skiing and glades are steep or not, as you choose. They have it all.”
When at Red Mountain Resort, intermediate skiers and riders head for the Paradise Lift on Granite Mountain, while advanced and expert skiers prefer Captain Jack’s Trees and Beer Belly (both on Granite Mountain) and Powderfields (on the Front Side).
At Whitewater Ski Resort, those new to glades should head for Glory Ridge. On skier’s left, they’ll find a wealth of mellow options, starting with Morning Glory to Ramble On. Those looking for more aggressive terrain, will enjoy the perfectly spaced trees and perfect fall line of Sproulers, off the Summit Chair.
In the U.S., you can find the same sort of beginner-to-expert options at Big Sky, Montana. Noted for having both “easy glades and tight trees,” a very happy skier shared that “the first place I really enjoyed tree skiing was in the Andesite glades.”
In particular, some great glades for beginners are Freemont’s Forest on Andesite Mountain and Porcupine on Lone Mountain.
Thanks to summer glading, Big Sky’s Moonlight area has two new intermediate glades, White Magic and Short Stack. And the fun continues on Andesite Mountain, with intermediate glades on Pomp and Lizette.
Picks for experts include Tango Trees, Soul Hole, Double Jack or Single Jack on Lone Mountain and Snake Pit, Shady Chutes, Peru or Bolivia on Andesite Mountain.
The East, especially Vermont, was well represented in this year’s poll.
Starting with the Green Mountain state, here are the suggestions we received.
- Jay Peak Resort, Vermont (especially Valhalla, Everglades and Andre’s Paradise);
- Sugarbush, Vermont (Castlerock Glades);
- Bolton Valley, Vermont (Vista Glades); and
- Mad River Glen, Vermont (“best trees requiring the least snow”).
Next door in New Hampshire, one person suggested that the gentle gradient and open glades of Bretton Woods offer the best place in the east to learn to ski trees. Excellent beginner glades are also found at Ski Stoneham, Quebec (look for la Casimir).
Moving south, Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia gladed a new area over the summer in their Western Territories. Located between Cupp and Shay’s, it’s known as Sunset Glades.
We also had a lot nominations for smaller resorts.
In Colorado, Eldora, Powderhorn Mountain Resort and Wolf Creek were suggested, with props given for great value and few crowds. Other smaller western resorts include Ski Santa Fé and Utah’s Eagle Point, especially for the tree skiing off of Hoodoos.
And then there are the big resorts.
Starting in the Pacific Northwest, Mount Hood Meadows, Oregon got a shout for Fright Glades (as in Far Right) off of the Hood River Express, along with Jack’s Woods in Heather Canyon.
Moving south, Heavenly, California was noted for having big trees, with big spaces between them, that are skied by very few people. “Even days after a storm, skiers can find fresh snow in the trees,” shared one respondent.
Looking for steep trees? Both Telluride, Colorado and Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico made the list for vertiginous glades. In particular, Wild West at Taos offers 80-acres of hike-to tree skiing, newly thinned this past summer. And at Winter Park, Colorado, you’ll find an entire “territory” of tree skiing in Eagle Wind.
Something easier more your style? Check out Monument Glade at Northstar, California, where the trees are both big and tiny and spaces between them are plenty wide.
And while I wasn’t officially part of the survey, I can’t let this article go without mentioning the awesome, fun, perfectly spaced, totally unexpected tree skiing delights of X Files and Ontario Bowl at Deer Valley, Utah.
Take to the Woods
One of the most interesting comments we received was from a woman on TheSkiDiva.com forum.
“I remember a time when a single tree in a wide-open bowl would freak me out,” she shared. “Just one tree on acres of land.”
“This was the typical ‘stare at the object you’re trying to avoid’ syndrome.”
She makes a great point. Don’t look at the trees. Instead, look around the trees at the path you want to follow. Anticipate your turns and plan ahead.
I learned this in a lesson many, many years ago at Arapahoe Basin and it works just as well for mountain biking as it does for skiing.
Also, start with wide-open glades on a moderate pitch and choose a day when the snow is soft. Icy runs in the trees start to take on the characteristics of a luge course.
So get out there. Get lost in the woods.
Your fairy tale awaits.
More of North America’s Favorites:
- An Unofficial, Totally Random List of the Best Groomed Ski Runs in North America, March 23, 2014.
- An Unofficial, Totally Random List of the Best Bump Runs in North America, March 30, 2014.
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