Imagine gliding down silky, smooth snow on vast, broad slopes where each wide turn feels like taking flight—exactly what you’re looking for in a beginner run, right?
Luckily, there is no shortage of green circle routes situated just off of I-70 (the main road that connects the world-class ski resorts with Denver) in Colorado. Here’s a roundup of the best beginner runs on the mountains along the interstate, from Keystone to Beaver Creek.
Twelve percent of the terrain at Keystone is designated as the easiest, which means there are a few solid options to fill up a beginner’s day (or weekend). Here are three of the best.
Open day and night, Schoolmarm has provided a solid ski education for millions of skiers for decades. Beginning at the top of River Run Gondola, this is one of the widest trails (and the longest) you’ll find, occupying the entire side of the mountain in some places as it allows you to make massively wide turns the entire way down Dercum Mountain. As you near the bottom, hang a right on Ina’s Way to return to River Run Village.
2. Ripperoo’s Glade
Named after Keystone’s boisterous canine mascot, Ripperoo’s Run, Glade, and Forest can be accessed off to the right of Schoolmarm Trail, about halfway down the slope. The Glades deliver fun surprises in the form of small jumps, easy tree trails, and even a mine you can ski through. It’s a favorite among young skiers.
Situated in one of the world’s most comfortable learn-to-ski locations, Endeavor can be reached by taking the River Run Gondola and venturing under the Ranger Chairlift. This part of the mountain is characterized by a collection of short, low-angle slopes designed just for beginners. As young ones become more comfortable, they should take a peek at Murphy’s Mine, a tunnel built specifically for fun on short skis.
At Breckenridge, 11 percent of the mountain is reserved for beginner trails. You can find most of them off the QuickSilver SuperChair on Peak 9 and the Rip’s Ride on Peak 8, but here are three that stand out from the rest.
4. 4 O’Clock
Coming in at 3.5 miles, 4 O’Clock is not only one of Breckenridge’s first ski trails, but is still the resort’s longest. Accessed from the top of Colorado Superchair, 4 O’Clock weaves along the Peak 8 ridgeline—with wider spots ranging between green and gentle blue-rated slopes—before meandering under the Snowflake Chairlift and through neighborhoods, spitting you out on Park Avenue right in town.
5. Trygve’s Run
Trygve’s is the most remote route among the collection of short beginner trails off of Rip’s Ride on Peak 8. Named after Norwegian Olympian, Breckenridge founder, and ski school director Trygve Berge, the trail presents an ideal learning ground or starting point of the day. It’s a short, wide slope perfect for dialing in the art of making turns.
This aptly named run is indeed an exquisite stomping ground for ski pioneers of all ages. Located off of the Quicksilver SuperChair on Peak 9, Frontier is one of a handful of broad, flat trails in this area that provide ample opportunity for wide turning and getting the feel for that easy glide under your feet.
Almost 18 percent of the runs at Vail are designed for beginners and are easy to find on the front side of the mountain. Here are four great trails to kick off your next Vail vacation.
7. Lion’s Way
Probably the most easy-to-access green run at Vail, Upper Lion’s Way originates at Mid-Vail at the top of Gondola One. It meanders down a gentle road that opens into an expansive slope around Avanti Park, speckled by islands of lodgepole pines before gliding back onto a wide road through thick forests. It then weaves down the mountain to converge with either Born Free or Post Road, both offering mild return options to the base of the resort.
A couple of lift rides away, this area is worth the travel time. Vail’s oasis of beginner trails is tucked into the top of the eastern front side of the resort off of the Sourdough Express Lift. Sourdough, Boomer, and Tin Pants form a trifecta of gentle, velvety soft trails that remain uncrowded even on busy weekends.
Named for its distinct resemblance to a pancake (flat), you can get to this delightfully long run by hanging a right at the top of Highline Express Chairlift. You might have the entire first half to yourself before the trail converges with Tin Pants and opens to a broad, expansive slope at the base of Northwoods Express Lift.
10. Lost Boy
Hugging the resort boundary line in Game Creek Bowl, this gloriously long and serene trail is named after a 14-year-old Eagle Scout who got lost in the area in 1964 when it was undeveloped and found his way out after spending the night in a tree well. There is nothing scary about the run itself, as it sweeps you peacefully down the ridgeline of the bowl and delivering you back to the base of Game Creek Express Lift.
Beaver Creek is one of the smaller resorts as far as acreage goes, but still has plenty of high-quality runs. Most of the beginner terrain can be found at Bachelor Gulch.
11. Red Buffalo
Tucked into the top corner of the mountain, the serenity of Red Buffalo is worth the ride. You’ll also get the opportunity to christen the brand new Red Buffalo Express Chairlift, a high-speed quad lift replacing Drink of Water (#5) and making its debut at Beaver Creek this season. Amazing vistas of the entire Vail Valley sprawl below.
12. Booth Gardens
Also located off of the swift new Red Buffalo Express, Booth Gardens is a wide, smooth run that cruises directly under the lift line for its upper portion and branches off to skier’s right halfway down, meandering around vast islands of pine trees before delivering you back to the base of the lift.
13. Cabin Fever
From the top of Bachelor Gulch Express, hang a right to get to Cabin Fever. This run begins on a super mellow road through the pines and aspens before widening to a slightly steeper slope flecked with islands of trees that welcome big, wide turns.
Arrowhead Village is another great starting point for beginners, offering an entire corner of the resort that is only lightly frequented and rich in perfectly-groomed green and blue runs. Piece-O-Cake is the optimal beginner choice, offering one of the longest green runs on the mountain, zigzagging through aspen forests on the mildest slope grade from top to bottom.
Copper Mountain’s terrain sprawls invitingly just off of I-70, naturally divided by its slopes with steeps on the east side and milder terrain stretching out to the west. Half the resort is speckled with iconic green runs, but here are two not to be missed.
Living up to its name, if there were one ski trail that gave you the sensation of being delightfully alone to the point of shouting out blissful thoughts, it’s this one. Hugging Copper’s western boundary, Soliloquy is accessed off of Timberline Express. Take a right after getting off of the lift and glide to the tranquility of a wide, curving field that takes you back to the lift base or (via Roundabout) to Copper’s West Village.
16. Union Park
Tucked into the little known beginner oasis off of Rendezvous chair, Union Park takes a few minutes to reach, but is well worth the travel time. With the mighty Union Peak looming above, this gentle trail begins on the open run-out of the peak above treeline and weaves through islands of pines. Due to its high elevation location, the snow here is consistently soft.
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts