Heavenly Mountain Resort is the largest and highest ski area in Lake Tahoe, with nearly 100 runs covering a dizzying 3,500 vertical feet that stretches across two states. With so many options, newcomers often can’t decide where to point their skis first.
Luckily, lift operators are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the insider scoop on where to go. To save you the trouble of shouting "where to?" while standing in the “load here” line, we took it upon ourselves to ask a handful of lifties for their recommendations of runs for each ability level. Oh, and if this is your first trip to Heavenly, you’ll earn an Epic Mix badge simply for arriving at Heaven’s Door.
Mott Canyon: An all-around local favorite, Mott is home to some of Tahoe’s highest angle chutes. This means that experts with quick reflexes will conquer as fast jump turns come into play through these fairly tight lines. Don’t forget to notch your Grand Canyon and/or Canyon Crusader badge.
Gunbarrel: A mogul lover’s dream, Gunbarrel offers a consistently steep pitch of rhythmic bumps for roughly 1,700 vertical feet. Those of you who fire down without a pause can grab your Gunbarrel Lock and Load badge. If your thighs can handle it, pick up your Bumpy Ridge badge after pulling off 10 laps here.
Milky Way Bowl: According to the lifties, Milky Way Bowl is the most promising place to find fresh milk (i.e. untouched powder). The bowl offers something for every type of expert, with a steep treeless bowl, narrow chutes, and a slope of glades for deep tree action. Get there by taking Skyline Trail about halfway down and dropping in to your right. There’s a Milky Way Bowl badge in it for you.
Pinnacles: This entire slope of wide glades is a bit of a liftie’s secret, but anyone who can peel their eyes away from the view from Skyline Trail or the Milky Way on their right will see that the glorious ridge to their left is full of inviting tree turns. Pinnacles are a pair of open lines through the woods but the best stashes can be found by dipping into the pines.
For the intermediate skiers and riders of the world, Heavenly is paradise. Few ski areas boast so many velvety smooth blues, and at Heavenly, this covers nearly half of the resort’s terrain.
Olympic Downhill: This is the run every liftie names as one of his or her top three of all time, and it’s also Heavenly’s longest ski trail, coming in at 5.5 miles. Take a right off of the top of Olympic Express and arc to your heart’s delight all the way down the consistently semi-steep pitch to the base of Stagecoach Express, covering nearly 2,000 vertical feet. You’ll feel like an Olympic downhiller.
Ridge Run: If you need a reminder that you’re livin’ the good life, head to the the top half of Ridge Run for expansive, magical views of Lake Tahoe. Take the Sky Express chair and hang a right at the top. After plunging down a moderately steep, wide-open slope for 1,500 vertical feet, the bottom of the run steers you back to the lift. On a sunny afternoon, you’ll probably want to take several laps here. Be sure to collect your Afternoon Delight Epic badge if you circle through 10 times after 12 p.m.
Skyline Trail: Skyline takes off on the opposite ridgeline from Ridge Run, accessed by hanging a left off of Sky Express and heading toward the Nevada border. Nab your Border Patrol badge as you take in the toy-sized casinos below and one of the best views of the mountain. If you’re frequenting this area, say, five times or more, you’ll collect your Heav Summit badge.
High Five: Also located off of the Sky Express chair, this exhilarating run will indeed inspire you to slap hands with your crew. Take in the views at the top before plunging down the smooth, steepish, tree island-lined slope or pause to check out the freestyle skills of riders in the neighboring High Roller Park.
Enchanted Forest: Located on the California side of Heavenly, the best learning grounds are situated under the aptly-named First Ride triple chair. Enchanted Forest is one of the shorter runs in this beginner-exclusive area, a wide valley characterized by a super gentle slope. This is also the best place to start for beginners wanting to explore higher areas of the mountain.
Patsy’s: This is a great next step after getting comfortable on First Ride at California Lodge. Take the Tramway or Gunbarrel Express up to this higher elevation green zone, where lake views and panoramas of Lake Tahoe abound. Unless you’re ready to venture onto the intermediate Round-A-Bout (a fairly easy blue), you’ll also take the Tramway back down.
Easy Street: The best part of this short, broad green run is that it is accessed from the top of the Gondola, with stunning views of Lake Tahoe the whole way up. Located just under Tamarack Lodge near the tubing hill, the area is full of action, although Easy Street itself is frequented mostly by other beginners like you. Once you’re linking right and left turns, be sure to grab your "S" is for Linked Turns badge.
Maggie’s: Accessed via a scenic, two-ride journey up the Aerial Tramway and Powderbowl Express chair, Maggie’s is worth the trip for the views alone. Lake Tahoe sprawls below in all of its glistening glory. Plus, it’s a prime opportunity to earn your Arcin’ Not Parkin’ Epic badge.
For information about planning your next trip to Heavenly, visit the resort’s website here.
Written by RootsRated for Rent Skis.
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts