Skiing in Northstar

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 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.

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