Trail Guide: Steep and Deep in Colorado

  • Expert Terrain In Colorado
  • Vail: Champagne Glades
  • Beaver Creek: The Talons
  • Breck: Lake Chutes
  • Keystone: The Outback

Let it rip on these advanced and expert runs!


Vail is revered because of the resort’s famed back bowls. 

And while there’s nothing like charging Rasputin’s in Siberia Bowl (and hitting those notorious cliffs for some big air fun), there are plenty of steeps in Blue Sky Basin and on Vail’s frontside to appease the adrenaline junkie.

Get There (Frontside): From the Golden Peak base, work your way to the Highline Express Lift via the Riva Bahn Express. 

At the top of Highline, get ready to showcase your mogul-slaying talents. 

Highline drops directly under the lift at a steady 28- to 30-degree pitch with unforgiving bumps.

Get There (Blue Sky Basin): Let the crowds swing left off the top of Skyline Express, the only chair to access Blue Sky Basin. 

Meanwhile, you’ll turn right and drop the fall line into Champagne Glades, some of Vail’s tightest and steepest tree skiing.

Beaver Creek

As with everything, the folks at Beaver Creek have made navigating the steep and deep easy for the ambitious speed hound. 

Meet “the Talons,” a trifecta of terrain guaranteed to scare you at least a little bit—in a good way.

Beaver Creek's Talons Challenge

Get There: The Talons is not one specific run or even one specific area on the mountain. 

It covers terrain from Birds of Prey (Beaver Creek’s notorious World Cup run), Grouse Mountain, and parts of Larkspur Bowl. 

Taken as a whole, the layout of the Talons evokes the three claws that make up a bird’s talon.

Extra Credit: Study the trail map or take a refresher lesson and then put yourself up to the Talons Challenge.


There’s something alluring about riding the highest chairlift in North America.

Even more exciting? Hiking beyond said lift and dropping into the heart-racing, high-consequence Lake Chutes.

The view above Breck's Imperial Bowl

Get There: Work your way to Peak 8’s Imperial Lift, which ascends to 12,840 feet above sea level. 

Follow the obvious boot pack to the ridge that tops Imperial Bowl. Cruise the ridgeline to the second chute entrance. 

The easiest line into the Lake Chutes is Zoot. 

Up the ante on the east side of Zoot by picking up Elevator Shaft, a near vertical cornice that leads to treacherous lines through the rocks, including Vertical Chute.

Bonus: Peak 6, Breck’s newest addition, is slated to open this season and will offer 543 acres of new terrain, including 143 acres of hike-to. 

Follow the Peak 6 progress here and let us know your favorite steeps.


Open a Keystone trail map and you’ll notice the “Outback”—but for years, insiders have called it the “Sickback,” with absolutely no irony.

This remote tree-skiing haven is purposely ungroomed. 

It’s also the gateway to a mile-long boot pack up to Wapiti Peak (12,354 feet), where you’ll discover high-alpine, expert-only terrain.

Sampling Keystone's expert terrain

Get There: Don’t be dissuaded by the three gondola/lift rides required to access the Outback (River Run Gondola, Outpost Gondola, Outback Express)—not only are they quick, but they are also the proverbial keys to the kingdom. 

From the top of Outback Express, head left, stay high, and skirt far skier’s right to Bushwhacker, one of the longer black diamond drops in Black Forest. 

All the runs funnel back to Outback Express. 

Feeling good? 

March up the obvious bootpack off the lift (or hop on a snow cat shuttle for a fee) and earn thin-air views and a solid 20 turns through North Bowl.

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