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Brighton — Snowboarding, Parks and pipes

Mountain Layout—Snowboarding

Brighton was the first mountain in Utah to allow snowboarding, and thus bred some of the best riders in the sport. Brighton should be on every rider’s list to check out at some point. Seeing and riding the resort that helped spawn some of the roots of snowboarding is essential in everyone’s snowboarding career. The terrain at this mountain has undoubtedly helped push the sport to where it is today and it still produces some of the best riders.


On the far north side of the resort lays the Millicent (a.k.a. Milly) and Evergreen lifts. Here, the layout resembles one big natural terrain park. It’s easy to link up a cliff band, chute, gully, open bowl and a natural kicker all in the same run. As the Milly lift approaches the top it climbs over “Killer,” which is a 20- to 45-foot drop off a shear cliff. It has won more battles than it has lost.

Hike up to Mount Millicent (10,452 feet) and drop into the Elevator chute—a steep, tight, gnarly chute that empties into a giant bowl filled with Utah Powder. Another option is to traverse to rider’s right and hit the out-of-bounds gate to the Mary Chutes. Most likely this is the area you see in magazine photos identified as “Brighton backcountry.” Riders can find 10- to 70-foot drops but it’s easy to get lost or cliffed out. Don’t go here if you aren’t prepared for the backcountry and you might think about taking a local guide with you.

Riding south, the next lift is the Crest Express. This is the main lift used to access the parks and pipe. Along with man-made features, there are a lot of steep, short shots through the trees and some open groomers. Watch out for the flat spots because it’s easy to get stuck on deep powder days. Hugging the rider’s left boundary line via Wren’s Hollow leads to the “Rock Garden” (huge drops out of bounds).

Staying rider’s right goes to the My-Oh-My terrain park. There are about five runs total, all of which funnel down to the Snake Creek Express. This high-speed quad accesses mellow, but perfect, tree runs and wide-open intermediate groomers. The Sunshine trail is great for carving turns or cruising. Staying right off this trail traverses toward Thor and Thunderhead, which are open, ungroomed areas with some moguls and small rock drops.

On the far east end of the resort is the Great Western Lift (a.k.a. GW). This is the place to hit after a big snowfall. The most challenging terrain is reached from this lift. There are more double-black diamond runs here than one cares to count. Trees are scattered through the bowls. Riding out the Great Western Trail, the run traverses over unlimited lines down some of the steepest terrain this mountain has to offer. For a mellower route go out the Elk Park Ridge. Off this ridge it’s possible to charge down perfectly spaced aspens or rip down Aspen Glow or Golden Needle—both wide-open groomers.

When it comes to learning to ride, Brighton seems to be the place the locals choose. The Brighton School has been teaching people to ride for more than 19 years. The school is a “Burton Learn to Ride Center,” offering specially designed snowboards and bindings geared to make learning easier. The beginner lifts, Explorer and Majestic, are home to wide, open and gentle slopes where novices link their first turns. While riding up the Majestic lift, prepare to get psyched from the bird’s-eye view of the superpipe and Majestic Terrain Park.

Parks and pipes

Brighton’s parks and pipe have been going off for more than a decade.Years before most resorts even allowed snowboarding, Brighton was building and grooming tabletops and pipes for its riders.

Off the Majestic lift lives “Big Bertha,” a 30- to 50-foot tabletop. On a typical sunny day many locals will be spinning 7s and rodeos while flying 50 feet through the air. After Bertha there usually is another tabletop that leads to the superpipe. The superpipe is about 500 feet long with walls up to 14 feet. As it runs due north, the sun hits it evenly through out the day and it doesn’t warp the walls.

Another option after Bertha is to go rider’s right toward a rail and box section.This area was designed and built by Jarred Winkler, the pipe and park creator. Winkler is responsible for making all the rails, boxes and walls at Brighton as well as for a lot of the other resorts in the West. The park is constantly evolving so, depending on the mood of the crew, the set up is always changing. There are usually 15 to 20 features on this run which can all get pretty gnarly.

Getting off the Crest Express, head toward the My-Oh-My park. Here there are three tabletops in a row, all with three different-sized lips. These lips range from a foot or two of air, to 15 to 25 feet. The My-Oh-My section drains out to “Candy Land.” This spot houses 10 to 15 rails and boxes and is the area to fine tune technical jibbing skills.

Off the backside of the Majestic lift is the learner park where beginners can experience hitting jumps or rails for the first time. Easy, low-consequence boxes and rails are set up here and tiny tabletops are available to learn technique and style.