Northstar Ski Area
Northstar’s gladed ski area will appeal mostly to intermediates and beginners. Half the trails are for intermediates and although there is plenty of terrain for both beginners and advanced skiers and riders, experts are likely to be a little disappointed.
The varied terrain includes long cruisers, moguls, tree skiing
and a variety of freestyle terrain features for all levels of
experience. The longest trail is 2.9 miles (4.7 km), and the most
challenging trail-the black diamond Iron Horse-is a great challenge
for intermediates. It's long and steep but groomed.
Lookout Mountain is a recent addition. It has 200 acres (80 ha)
of advanced terrain accessed by a high-speed quad, Lookout Mountain
Express. Lookout Mountain includes snowmaking, a vertical drop of
1,200 feet (360 m) and five black-diamond trails: Prosser,
Stampede, Gooseneck, Boca, and Martis.
The ski area includes terrain parks for boarders and trick
skiers, and for younger skiers and snowboarders, there are
Adventure Parks-terrain parks built just for kids where everything
is their size. The parks are designed with bumps, jumps and secret
hideouts as well as special snow play areas where kids can kick off
their skis and snowboards and just have fun in the snow. And since
the trails are built right off mainstream trails, parents are never
far away. Adventure Parks are patrolled by Northstar's ski patrol.
There are Adventure Parks at various locations-check the trail map
to see where each park is located.
Northstar Ski Lifts & Lift Passes
Northstar has six high-speed quads, one triple chair that accesses the East Ridge, and a double chair that brings you to the freestyle terrain park.
Out of the village, you can take either the Big Springs Express
Gondola to mid-mountain or the new Village Express high speed quad
chairlift to Vista Express. There is also one rope tow, bringing
skiers to the top of the Lookout Mountain and three Magic Carpets
in the ski school area. The lifts open 8:30 am to 4:00 pm during
the regular season and 8:00 am to 4:30 pm during peak season. Lift
lines can be long on major holidays and busy weekends, but skiing
on the Backside or Lookout Mountain can be surprisingly quiet even
on busy days. There are plans to replace the Pioneer double chair
with a high-speed quad.
Northstar Beginner Skiing
The beginner area under the Bear Paw chair is ideal for first timers, with several trails all in one spot.
Another option is to take the Vista Express quad and follow Skid
Trail, then Lumberjack and into The Gulch, through the Bear Paw
learning area and down Village Run to the base of the Big Springs
Express gondola, where you started. Then you can do it all over
again. Most beginners, once comfortable on skis or a snowboard, can
handle the blue trails off the Arrow Express chair.
Northstar Intermediate Skiing
With around 50 percent of the trails at Northstar designated suitable for intermediates, there are good long trails from the top of the mountain to the bottom.
One choice might be to take the Arrow Express and then the
Comstock Express quad to the summit. Then take the East Ridge trail
to the top of the Vista Express quad, then Logger's Loop and The
Woods to the base of the gondola. Alternatively you could take the
West Ridge trail from the summit, then Lookout Road and Boondocks
to join up with Home Run back to the base of the gondola. Between
these two ridges are plenty of other single blues that join up
easily with one another, making a day's skiing for intermediates
full of variety.
Northstar Advanced and Expert Skiing
Advanced skiers have 25 percent of the mountain to entertain them.
Take the Arrow Express and Comstock Express to the summit and head in the opposite direction from East Ridge along the black diamond Sierra Grande. There are several choices for descent (all black diamond trails): Rail Splitter or Challenger, or continue along Sierra Grande to join up with Challenger further down. Then either go for some backcountry skiing along Sawtooth Ridge (conditions permitting) or carry on along Down Under to the bottom of the Backside Express Chair and do it all over again. In 2000 a new black diamond area was opened on Lookout Mountain, with plenty of steep mogul and tree trails. It joins the rest of the mountain via the Pioneer chair. The Backside trees are best for powder. There are no double black diamond trails so experts may be disappointed. The only off-piste skiing area (conditions permitting) is at Sawtooth Ridge, off the black diamond trails below Mount Pluto.
Northstar Boarding & Freestyle
Northstar is fairly easy for snowboarders to get around as most chairlifts have a continual fall line back to the bottom.
For a shot of adrenaline, head to the award winning Freestyle
Parks and hit the bumps, jumps, jibs, tabletops, and halfpipes. The
superpipe and halfpipe are located at mid-mountain. All the
freestyle terrain parks and features are located off Vista Express
chairlift on the front side of Northstar. All parks have snowmaking
for solid cover. A professional grooming crew shapes and cuts the
terrain features on a regular basis, providing fresh options for
skiers and snowboarders.
Northstar Mountain Restaurants
There are two mountain restaurants serving international, traditional, self-service, and fast food.
All the restaurants have special kids' meals for those aged 12 years and under. On the mountain the best spot is the Summit Deck & Grille at the top of Mount Pluto, with great views of Lake Tahoe, but you must be able to ski/ride down on intermediate trails. The other choice is the Lodge at Big Springs. Open for breakfast and lunch daily, it has pizzas, burgers and salads, and for entertainment you can watch the boarders in the Superpipe below. Picnic tables are also available at the top of Vista, Pioneer and Comstock chairs.
The Tahoe Mountain Club maintains a private, members-only facility near the top of the Zephyr lift. This facility, known as Schaffer's Camp, serves outstanding cuisine in a relaxed environment. No ski boots in here - members trade in their boots for comfy slippers.
Few resorts have undertaken a more ambitious overhaul than Northstar-at-Tahoe. At the heart of the resort’s renaissance is the brand new Village at Northstar.
One of the finest base villages in North America, the Village at
Northstar incorporates posh new hotels, condominiums, restaurants
and retail into a vibrant and inviting alpine setting. The
centerpiece of the new complex is a large outdoor skating rink,
complete with heated rinkside bar booths so parents can watch their
youngsters while they enjoy an adult libation.
Take a stroll around the Village at Northstar and you'll be sure
to see plenty of smiles. Whether it's a group of children roasting
s'mores over a firepit, a couple skating hand-in-hand around the
rink or a family strolling through the plaza, one thing is certain
- the Village at Northstar is a happy place.
Northstar Bars & Restaurants
The two best places for apres ski are the Alpine Bar in the village, and on the mountain the deck at the Lodge at Big Springs.
All the bars are primarily après-ski places, so they are
suitable for all and there are no restrictions on children coming
in. The Alpine Bar features major sporting events on multiple
T.V.s, live music, games, pool tables and an arcade. Appetizers and
full bar are available. The minimum legal age to be able to buy or
drink alcohol is 21 years.
In the village, Timbercreek Restaurant has been voted one of
Tahoe's best restaurants. Try out its California-American cuisine,
with hints of Pacific Rim flair. The Ski Express breakfast buffet,
lunch and dinner are served daily mid-December through April.
There's also an après-ski bar with café and children's menu.
Reservations recommended. At Cippolini's Pizzeria there's homemade
pizza and calzones with soup and a salad bar. Use the on-mountain
pizza phone at the top of the Big Springs Express Gondola to place
your order. Takeout orders are welcome. Go to the Village Food
Company for daily breakfast specials, sandwiches and sushi for
lunch, and dinner specials.
A unique feature at Northstar is Polaris Park, across from the
Lodge at Big Springs, an evening adventure park for skiing,
boarding, tubing, snow toys, live entertainment and dancing. It's
open most Fridays, Saturdays and peak season evenings until 7:00
pm. Tickets can be obtained from the Tubing Center at the top of
While Baxter's, TC's Pub, and the Chocolate Bar are popular
options for enjoying a post-skiing cocktail, the best place to grab
a hot toddy or irish coffee is the Cabana Bar, adjacent to the ice
skating rink. More "South Beach" than North Lake Tahoe, the chic
Cabana Bar is one of the hottest apres-ski scenes in California.
Come early to grab one of the heated booths or a coveted spot
around a firepit.
Northstar Other Activities
If you’re tired of skiing and want to try something different, Northstar has 30 miles (50 km) of cross-country terrain, full work-out facilities at the Swim & Racquet Club, tubing and ice-skating.
The Swim & Racquet Club has a pool, three outdoor spas, a
youth center with a full range of activities, and a fitness
Snow toys are available from Tube Town at mid-mountain from noon
to 4:00 pm. Head down the mountain on a snowbike or take to the
half-pipe on a snowscoot. Or maybe try your hand at a skifox, which
will carve short or long turns. All snow toys are for 12 years and
older except for the K2 Juniorbike for ages 8 to 12. There's also a
packed events calendar that takes shape every season-check out the
website at www.northstarattahoe.com for full details.
Northstar resort recreation center
The Recreation Center is open year-round, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
It has a heated pool, outdoor spas, game room, fitness centre and
adult quiet area.