Trail Guide: Easy Going in Tahoe

  • How To Take It Easy In Tahoe
  • Heavenly: Look for "beginner zones"
  • Northstar: Enjoy the long groomers
  • Kirkwood: Start on Chair 1

Our picks for leisurely cruising and friendly groomers.


Heavenly’s 4,800 acres span two states (California and Nevada) and include a tapestry of Jeffrey pines, white fir, and craggy cliffs. 

With concentrated beginner terrain “zones,” novices can easily cultivate the confidence and skills to tackle the more challenging stuff.

Get there: 

From the California Lodge base area, take the Gunbarrel Express to the smooth green runs off of Patsy’s Lift.

Feeling strong?

Push higher via the Powderbowl Express, head left, and snake down Mombo

Once you’ve mastered Mombo, head right off the lift and test your skills through the inviting—and open—Powderbowl Woods.

Must know: 

You’ve probably seen the images of airborne skiers with a sapphire-blue lake in the background gracing the pages of ski magazines. 

They were likely taken at Heavenly. 

Boasting one of the best ski-resort views in the world, Heavenly overlooks the stunning Lake Tahoe in California, as well as Nevada’s high desert.


Since joining the Vail Resorts roster in 2010, Northstar has seen continual improvements, including a renovated base village. 

An intermediate paradise (about 60 percent of the trails are blue squares), Northstar is renowned for its corduroy groomers that seem to run forever.

Get there: 

Stick to Northstar’s front side for all-day cruising and exploring. 

Warm up with a run down Village Run, located to skier’s right off the Big Springs Express Gondola.

Then work your way up the mountain; ride the Arrow Express to Upper Main Street, an intermediate trail that drops to the village base.

If all feels good, head to Northstar’s summit by riding the Comstock Express; bang a left to East Ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with epic views, open slopes, and speed. 

Must know: 

Northstar’s renowned terrain parks have been training grounds for the likes X-games athletes and Olympians, including Shaun White. 

Tap into the legacy by exploring the Big Easy, a training terrain park designed to build skills gradually.


Kirkwood’s legendary snowfall—the resort collects more than 470 inches on average—draws its share of expert skiers, but that shouldn’t intimidate you. 

With a solid 40 percent of the mountain devoted to intermediates and beginners, Kirkwood offers that rare mix of welcoming terrain and extreme reputation.

Get there:

Warm up on the green runs off Chair 1 (Snowkirk), and then expand your horizons by riding Solitude to Mokelumne. 

Check your speed early to spot signs for Home Run to Timber Creek, Kirkwood’s second base. 

Take the left onto Home Run and cruise to the Timber Creek Express, where you can log an entire day on runs like Hole N Wall and Free N Easy.

Must know:

Because it’s an hour-long drive from South Lake Tahoe and has minimal nightlife, Kirkwood is a terrific escape from the hustle and bustle of other Tahoe resorts—an excellent destination for early-to-bed-early-to-rise folks who enjoy old school charm.

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