Squaw can look intimidating to beginners due to the steep terrain right out of the village. The High Camp Cable Car, also called the Tram, rises up and over the Tram Face, virtually un-skiable terrain where Squaw holds an extreme competition yearly for the world’s elite. But don’t be fooled: there are fantastic beginner runs located at mid-mountain. Take a leap of faith and ride the tram to High Camp, where four lifts offer mellow groomed beginner and intermediate trails. The payoff is extraordinary lake views, as well as the feeling that you are high in the mountains and away from the run-of-the-mill lower-mountain slopes that most resorts provide for newbies.
High Camp is a mountaintop meadow tucked between high peaks where experts can get an adrenaline fix before meeting up with less skilled family members for lunch. High Camp has a swimming pool and skating rink as well as outdoor seating, providing an inspiring setting for all ability levels. For young children, the Papoose beginner’s area is on the far eastern side of the parking lot beside the SnoVentures Activity Zone where you will find mini snowmobiles for kids and snow tubing for all ages. This is the learning ground for first-timers, completely unintimidating and with free hot chocolate.
For intermediates, Squaw Creek lift offers un-crowded runs and beautiful lake views, with groomers that loop down to the Resort at Squaw Creek on far looker’s left of the resort. Squaw Creek offers classic American skiing, with trails cut through the trees—something you don’t get much of in the wide-open expanses of Squaw. Upper-mountain intermediate terrain is accessed by the Shirley Lake Express, a fast six pack lift perfect for doing laps. The Gold Coast six pack lift provides advanced intermediate runs. Round out the day with some laps on the Solitude lift, which drops down from High Camp into groomed and un-groomed intermediate runs, glades and tree islands.
For skiers who like to hike, Squaw has bountiful options. Granite Peak, accessed via Granite Chief, is the resort’s highest point at just over 9,000 feet, so it loads well on powder days and offers lots of hidden stashes days after a storm. Hidden Bowl features steep wide open terrain and tree shots, making this area prime for exploration. The Palisades chutes are some of the most infamous “Squallywood” terrain, featured in countless ski films. If you go big here, lots of chairlift riders will be watching and cheering. Access Palisades via the Siberia Express, but be prepared to handle a cornice drop.
Lesser skilled skiers should stick to the easiest of the Palisades chutes, National Chute to looker’s left. Named for Olympian Jonny Mosely, Mosely’s Run is a severely steep bump run that Jonny credits with giving him the skills to handle the world’s toughest moguls competitions. Squaw will never win any awards for its tree skiing—there simply isn’t that much due to the mountain’s vast open expanses—but those who seek a forested environment should head to the Squaw Creek and Red Dog lifts, as well as the lower sections of Granite Chief.
The terrain at Alpine Meadows ski resort consists of wide open bowls, long groomed slopes and abundant natural features within its 2,400 skiable acres. The ski area’s front and backsides boast plenty of beginner, intermediate and advanced options.
Alpine Meadows offers some of the best skiing and riding in Lake Tahoe with the newly named Pacific Crest Bowls, offering backcountry access to expert skiers with the proper equipment. Take the short (or long) hike out to one of these bowls, and then end up back at a high-speed chairlift. From the summit of Ward Peak, visitors can take in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Tahoe.
Beginners and intermediate skiers have numerous terrain options on both sides of the mountain. The front side is home to long groomers and some excellent intermediate runs off Roundhouse and Hot Wheels chairlifts. Then take Rays Rut around to the backside, where you’ll access some of Alpine’s best advanced–intermediate runs.