When pausing to ponder what makes a green ski run great, it’s more than being obviously geared towards a beginner. It goes beyond a matter of ease and certainly above a boring service road. The following green trails possess winning characteristics ranging from natural, effortless flows, expansive breadths, incredible views and fun features along the way. Above all, these are runs that you want to do again and again, for which that green circle doesn’t just mean novice, but screams GO!
Cabin Fever: Living up to its name but in a good way, this run begins at the top of Bachelor Gulch Express lift. (Check out Beaver Creek trail maps here.) Take a right and wander into the woods on a perfectly smooth slope that eventually opens into a sea of glades, speckled with small jumps and fun forest tributaries. As the slope widens, the pitch becomes slightly steeper, going from green to blue before flattening and finishing in front of the Ritz-Carlton.
Intertwine: One of the best ways to tour several branches of Beaver Creek’s woods, it’s easy to pretend you’re on cross-country skis along this route, accept that gravity does the work for you. The slope is nonetheless relatively flat along this tree-lined road that begins at the top (take a left) of the Bachelor Gulch Express Lift. One of the longest trails on the mountain, Intertwine meanders under the Elkhorn and Strawberry Park Express lifts, joining a couple of wider faces before finishing on the quiet side of Beaver Creek Village.
Red Buffalo: Tucked into the very top corner of the resort at nearly 11,500 feet, Red Buffalo offers a slice of serenity with sweeping views of the surrounding peaks and often times untouched corduroy. Accessed from the top of Drink of Water Lift 5, Red Buffalo is a wide, gentle slope winding around a handful of glades, including Jack Rabbit Alley, a favorite set of tree adventure trails for children.
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Frontier: The best feature of this Breckenridge green run located directly beneath Ten Mile Station off of the Quicksilver SuperChair is that it passes by Ripperoo’s forest. A magical ski adventure for children, the forest is flecked with ski-through teepees, mines and back-to-back whoopty-doos, all manageable for little tykes. Frontier widens into the thoroughfare under the Quicksilver lift, finishing at the base of Peak 9. This super wide beginner trail is a great place for first timers that need some extra space.
Red Rover: Breck’s Quicksilver Superchair leads to some of the world’s most gentle learning slopes, but among the wide open green runs, lies this tree-lined, less frequented phenom that beckons peace-loving skiers. Accessed by taking a left from the top of Quicksilver chair and passing Ten Mile Station, ski beyond the base of the Falcon SuperChair to find Red Rover. Crossing the busier main veins of Peak 9, the run takes on a steeper pitch and widens after it crosses under Quicksilver, offering access to A-Chair, Peak 8 Superconnect, and Beaver Run.
Twister: Running alongside the Goldrunner Coaster, this quiet run begins at the top of the Snowflake lift, offering a peaceful, mild cruise amid the gleeful screams of the Coaster riders to your right and, as it nears the base of Peak 8, the high-adrenaline pursuits of the Freeway Terrain Park to your left.
Schoolmarm: Designated a family ski zone, Keystone’s Schoolmarm is the ideal place for any type of ski or snowboard lesson, private, group or self-taught. Spanning the full length of Dercum Mountain from top to bottom (2,000-plus vertical feet), Schoolmarm winds softly down from the Summit House, beginning on the broad front side face that serves as a learning zone. As the run flows to the right, flanking A-51 terrain park, it allows access to numerous tree trails featuring caves, teepees, and forest adventures. Crossing under the Argentine Chairlift, the trail zigzags to the left before finishing at the Mountain House base area. This is the perfect spot for a beginner to take a group lesson.
Endeavor: Situated at the top of the mountain just below the Summit House, this run might be short, but it is packed with adventurous beginner detours along the forest boundary—Keystone’s Kidventure features such as skiable caves, teepees and small jumps. It’s also pleasantly empty much of the time, offering a consistently gentle pitch from top to bottom, finishing at the Ranger chairlift.
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Sourdough: One of the best-kept secrets for a beginner and families wanting a quiet corner of Vail’s vast terrain to call their own, Sourdough is located near the top of the resort’s front side, but is worth the trip if great snow, few crowds, and a gentle pitch is what you seek. Accessed from Express Chair 14 bearing the same name (after taking Timberline Catwalk from Mountain Top), Sourdough flows directly under the chairlift. Narrower than some of the lower trails, there is still plenty of room for wide turns on Sourdough, which holds a consistently gentle (but not flat) pitch until it converges with the blue run Whiskey Jack at the end, offering a challenging 50 yards of steeper face back to the base of Chair 14.
Lost Boy: Named after a 14-year-old Eagle Scout who lost his way on the mountain in 1964, this delightfully long green run tours the top perimeter of Game Creek Bowl. Accessed by taking a right from the top of Game Creek Express Chair 7, Lost Boy begins with a relatively flat pitch featuring exits to numerous blue and black runs. Following the trail to the ski area boundary, it widens into a vast, cruising highway separate from the rest of the bowl that finishes directly at the base of Chair 7. Getting lost is difficult, by the way…the missing Eagle Scout ended up OK after his night in the woods.
Swingsville: Accessible from the main hub of the resort—Mountain Top, where Chairs 4, 5, and 11 converge—Swingsville offers the most seamless and pleasant means to Mid-Vail. Ski from the top of Chair 4 along what is basically a broad beginner ridgeline expressway with exits onto several runs. Swingsville is the fourth exit and the primary tributary. A short run featuring a few islands of pines, there is a handful of hidden tree trails on either side of the slope. The pitch is consistent—slightly steeper than the top ridgeline, but thanks to the northwest-facing slope, it stays consistently powdery even in the afternoon sun.
Featured image provided by Doug Letterman
The best unknown is Sunlight by Glenwood Springs.
Is Sunlight advanced?
Sunlight is a very family friendly area with amazing beginner terain
Sunlight is advanced in the sense that it is “heliocentric” although it can seem elemental and primal as well. Happy skiing!
Sunlight was the first place I ever skied as a kid. My parents took me there when I was 13. It was a great experience. I would highly recommend it for first time skiers.
When I wrote a ‘Ski Area Management’ story about finding lost skiers some years ago, I learned that the 14-year-old Eagle Scout purposely hid off-trail after the lifts closed. He told Patrollers who’d spent the night searching for him that he wanted to test his winter survival skills. He was “found” when he popped out of the trees the next morning, just as the Patrol was ready to resume the search.
Thank you for this! Saved it as bookmark 🙂
Happy to hear it Danny!
Prospect Bowl at Telluride, when open I have found is the best. West Buttermilk is also great.
Powderhorn is one of the best hidden gems for beginners and the entire family!
Obviously, west Buttermilk!
Just taught my 10 year old son to ski on Schoolmarm at Keystone. It’s a great beginner run and is even open top to bottom for night skiing. By the second day he was ready to tackle some blues, but we skied Schoolmarm at least a couple of times every day we were at Keystone.
This list is incomplete without Steamboat Springs.
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