Trees and powder: they go together.
And while you don’t need glades to enjoy powder skiing, one of the charms of ducking into the trees is scoring deep, soft snow, days after the last storm.
We recently published two posts, each offering up a totally non-scientific starter list of North America’s Favorite Resorts for Tree Skiing and North America’s Favorite Resorts for Powder Skiing and Riding.
Nominees were gleaned from social media and, as always, we welcome your suggestions for additions to our lists.
The response to the tree skiing post was huge, shouting out specific resorts and runs and providing photos of epic lines through favorite glades.
The response to the powder post confirmed something many of us already suspect: like mushroom hunters, powder hounds are notoriously tight-lipped.
While two people agreed that Utah does in fact have the “greatest snow on earth,” no one else was giving up the goods.
So today, as we recap the comments and build out our list, it’s all about trees (and the powder you might possibly find).
Equal Opportunity East and West
One of the things I love about tree skiing is that it is readily available anywhere you find trees and deep snow. Tree skiing is not dependent upon thousands of feet of vertical or towering, high-altitude peaks.
You’re just as apt to find outstanding glade skiing in the east as in the west.
Trees, en Français
Based on readers’ comments, Mont Sutton in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is tree-skiing heaven.
While one person pointed out that Mont Sutton has “amazing tree skiing for all levels of skiers, from novice to expert,” another offered up some unique history.
Apparently the founder of Mont Sutton, Réal Boulanger, should be credited with popularizing glade skiing (aka skiing sauvage) during the early 1960s.
“Not only did Réal figure out the best way to cut a glade run (wait ‘til spring, then cull the trees and branches that have blood on ’em), he and his crews also mastered the fine arts of grooming them, whether by Tucker snowcat or on foot, by hand and shovel.”
Bloody branches aside, glade skiing at Sutton ranges from tame and gentle (Barcarole, CouCou or Forest of Wonder) to hardcore expert (Fantaisie, Extase and Seduction) with everything in between – the trails and trees get progressively more difficult moving from skier’s left to skier’s right. See Mont Sutton lift tickets.
With almost 2000 vertical feet (589 meters), nearby Mont Orford, also has popular tree skiing, along with “decent lift prices, short lines and Magog, a great town.”
Mont Orford has 17 distinct glades spread across Mont Orford and Mont Giroux. Those on Mont Giroux are called ”Les sous-bois des legends,” and are named after two local Olympians, Loyd Langlois and Nicolas Fontaine. See Mont Orford lift tickets.
Green Mountains, Great Trees
Just south of the Eastern Townships, you’ll find Vermont. Since an international boundary means nothing to a forest, the tree skiing in the Green Mountain state is equally acclaimed.
Smuggler’s Notch is known for it’s family-friendly vibe, and the mountain’s Snow Sport University makes a point of taking children through Whitetail Woods for their first glade experience.
Within the resort boundaries, skiers and riders will find 22 marked glades and 750 acres between to explore. Red Fox Glades is another great choice for beginners, while intermediates gravitate to the blue and black glades on Madonna and Sterling Mountain.
The pinnacle of Smug’s tree skiing is Black Hole, a “triple black diamond” glade, with challenging steeps, cliffs and moguls threaded through the woods. See Smuggler’s Notch lift tickets.
Sugarloaf is in Maine, not Vermont, and it’s also popular with tree skiers. The comment we received about Sugarloaf was short and to the point: “Sugarloaf. ‘Nuff said.”
Reaching out to locals, we learned that most of the resort’s signature tree skiing is in Brackett Basin, 650 acres of ungroomed steeps, chutes, downed trees and cliffs.
Deep snow and expert skills are required.
If that’s not your style, take the Whiffletree Quad to Broccoli Garden or Rookie River. See Sugarloaf lift tickets.
Tree Skiing, U.P. Style
With 170 skiable acres on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Mount Bohemia is an untamed paradise that gets 300 inches of lake effect snow each winter and offers 900 feet of vertical, the most in the Midwest.
“It’s the best kept secret in skiing and snowboarding,” shares Scott who nominated Mount Bohemia.
Nothing is groomed at Mount Bohemia making it a wonderland of tight trees, craggy hillsides, creek beds, cliffs and frozen waterfalls. Some of the mountain’s terrain is hike-to and some requires a bus ride back to the base. All of it is difficult, with only two intermediate rated runs.
If this “backcountry extreme” vibe isn’t enough, the resort offers off-the-grid cat skiing on nearby Voodoo Mountain. See Mount Bohemia lift tickets.
Surprisingly, we didn’t get a lot of comments about western resorts.
In the Spirit, a gladed run on Blackcomb Mountain, was deemed the “ultimate,” by one reader. A double black diamond with tight trees, fast turns and long-lasting powder, it’s for advanced riders only. Easier glades, with more widely spaced trees and lower angle terrain, are found off of Symphony Chair on Whistler Mountain. See Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets.
As for Whitefish, two local skiers explain it thus.
“Hellroaring Basin runs! Great tree spacing, mostly pretty deep,” shared one.
While local skier Randall Zuckerman explains that more than anything else, “Whitefish really is a tree skier’s mountain. The majority of great skiing is found in the trees, which are found all over the mountain.”
And not only are they fun to ski, but they help you find your way when the fog sets in.
Yet another reason to love skiing the trees. See Whitefish lift tickets.