Skiing in Sierra at Tahoe

Sierra Ski Area

Sierra offers varied terrain for all levels of skiers and riders around its 2,000 acres.

In total there are 46 trails accessed by 12 lifts, with a 2.5- mile (4-km) beginner trail, Sugar ‘n’ Spice, from the summit. What’s different about Sierra, though, is that there are also 600 acres (243 ha) of backcountry skiing and riding accessed via five backcountry gates. For US$25 you can get instruction for advanced skiers from a ski patrol guide.

Sierra Beginner Skiing

Sierra is one of the few resorts with a beginner trail that leads from the summit to the base of the mountain.

Sugar ‘n’ Spice is a 2.5-mile (4-km) cruiser off the Grandview Express quad chairlift. It’s a truly fantastic way to cut your teeth on the art of skiing and allows beginners to really experience what it’s like to stand on the top of a mountain without being terrified! As well as Sugar ‘n’ Spice there’s Wagon Trail, another green trail reached from El Dorado double chairlift, which leads around the edge of the mountain and joins up with Sugar ‘n’ Spice to the base, or via Upper Main, Corkscrew, Echo, and Lower Sleighride to the base.

Sierra Intermediate Skiing

Half the trails at Sierra are blues, for intermediate skiers and riders.

For a good long trail take the Grandview Express quad to the summit and ski across to Smokey or Coyote beyond El Dorado double lift. Then join on with Wagon Trail green trail to the blue Upper Sleighride, then Marmot and drop into Beaver in the West Bowl. Take the West Bowl Express for some more blues: Upper Powderhorn, Bashful, Pyramid, and Lower Powderhorn.

Sierra Advanced and Expert Skiing

With 25 percent of the mountain as black diamond trails, advanced skiers have a good choice of skiing and riding.

Preacher’s Passion off the Tahoe King double chair is probably the hardest trail-it’s steep, long, and has the option of trees the whole way down. This trail is also really good for snowboarding as there are no flats. Avalanche Bowl is a powder playground, and Upper Dynamite and Jackrabbit are two of the expert’s favorites on a powder day. If you want to escape the crowds you can ski off the trails, such as between Coyote and Smokey on the Backside, or find the less-crowded blues-Marmot is often quieter than other blues.

For advanced skiers and riders, backcountry tours explore Sierra’s steepest terrain-considered locally as some of the region’s best. Five backcountry gates provide access to forests and some of the steepest terrain found in the region. The cost for a 3.5-hour backcountry tour is US$25 in addition to a lift pass. Tours are led by professional ski patrol staff and include a briefing on safety procedures and proper use of avalanche transceivers. Reservations are required. Each registered person must participate in a skills assessment test to determine proficiency.

Sierra Boarding & Freestyle

There are five terrain parks at Sierra, catering to all ability levels of skier and snowboarder, and each has a sound system, making them popular places to just hang out.

Enhanced snowmaking was added in 2003 to the 17-foot (5-m) Superpipe. The Superpipe is groomed nightly.

Sierra Mountain Restaurants

Sierra is consistently recognized for having good food at reasonable prices.

The Grandview Grill at the summit has breathtaking views over Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness. Watch the colors of Lake Tahoe changing with the movement of the sun while filling up on burgers, tortilla wraps, East-meets-West entrées, and something from the bar. The summit of the West Bowl area has a new hospitality tent stocked with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks.

At the Base Lodge there’s a choice of eating establishments: the Aspen Café has entrées, fries, and Mexican selections; Cheeseburgers in Paradise does just what it says; the Sierra Pub has pizza, sandwiches, nachos, and alcohol; Java Junction does specialty coffee and snacks.

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