Heavenly — Mountain layout
You can ski down to Heavenly Village and the gondola stops downloading people at 4 p.m., so be sure you wind your way back to the top of the gondola before then (via 49’er, Sam’s Dream, Cascade, or the California Trail). Signage is good at Heavenly, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it.
Here is a larger, more detailed trail map.
|Expert, Advanced: Heavenly’s first trails, Gunbarrel and East Bowl, strike awe in all but the best skiers. From the top of the tram, they seem to drop 1,700 feet straight down into Lake Tahoe, pausing only briefly at Heavenly’s small California base area. Mogul skiers learn the hard way here, and the bumps really are bigger than some cars.
But true experts should head to Mott Canyon on the Nevada side. Off the Dipper Express, Mott Canyon is accessible from designated gates. Hully Gully and Pinenuts are double-diamond runs that allow you to do some reconnaissance on the canyons north-facing chutes. But if you e already uncomfortable, don try Bills, Snakepit, or The Y—listed in order of difficulty and accessed via gate 1. They are three of the steepest lift-served runs in the West. Killebrew Canyon is even more treacherous. Only venture here if you have a change of underwear.
For advanced skiers, if the bumps on the California face look too menacing, head to the Sky Express chair, right off the gondola down Von Schmidts Trail. From the top of the Sky Express, the best of the California side opens up. After you have admired the view of Lake Tahoe, drop down Ellies if you are looking for bumps. When Ellies is groomed, its a screaming cruiser.
Then strike out for Nevada, where over half of Heavenly’s terrain is. It will take a few chairlift rides, but you’ll eventually get there. The blue runs around the Dipper Express quad and Stagecoach Express are screamers. But beware, the Dipper gets jammed on busy days. North-facing Milky Way Bowl at the top of the Dipper can have some of the best snow at the resort.
|Intermediate: Heavenly is, well, heavenly. That’s especially true on the Nevada side. Tamarack Express, Comet Express, Dipper Express, North Bowl, Olympic and the Stagecoach Express are all good choices when you e feeling blue. Take note that Tamarack, Dipper and Comet provide access to both sides of the resort.
Olympic Downhill, off Olympic Chair (due to be replaced, along with North Bowl, with an express chair), top to bottom, is the stuff dreams are made of, and if South Lake Tahoe wins its Olympic bid, this will be, yup, you guessed it, the official downhill. The Galaxy Chair is a good spot for low intermediates to gain confidence. With its meandering intermediate runs, it also is a great hideaway for families with small children.
On the California side, Ridge Run, off the Sky Express, swoops down the resort’s western periphery. Offshoots include Liz’s, Jackpot and Canyon. Round-A-Bout descends to the California Lodge, zig-zagging down to World Cup. To avoid that, download on the Gunbarrell Express, which ends steps from the bus depot. The tram docks at the other end of the parking area, which is an uncomfortable walk in or with gear to the bus depot.
For a looonnngg, looonnngg, looonnng run, hug the resort’s eastern perimeter, taking Skyline Trail, from the summit of the Sky Express to Dipper Knob, to Big Dipper, to Perimeter, to the base of Galaxy. Whew—now that’s a quad burner.
If you want long smooth cruising, head to the right from the Sky Express when you get off the chair and steam down Liz’s, Canyon, High Roller or Ridge Run. Just below the Sky Deck, intermediates can drop into Maggie’s Canyon with trees spaced well enough to give strong intermediates a chance to practice.
The Nevada side has even better cruisers. From the top of the Dipper Express are the Big Dipper and Orion’s Wave.
Beneath the East Peak Lodge, Stagecoach and Boulder Chute are long rolling cruisers. For a cruise that seems to take forever, take Olympic Downhill to Stagecoach Base.
The Galaxy Chair is a good spot for low intermediates to gain confidence. With its meandering intermediate runs, it also is a great hideaway for families with small children.
Tamarack Express serves a trio of short cruisers that drop back to the California side as well as providing another link to the Nevada side of the mountain.
|Beginner, First-timer: Heavenly’s green terrain is smack in the middle of the boarding area for four lifts. People dart in every direction, making a most intimidating scene for many beginners.
However, the resort now has an isolated 15-acre learning area at the top of the gondola that has improved the learning experience here. The learning area is served by three lifts—a quad, a mighty might tow and a moving carpet. A ski school yurt and nearby food service cap if off. Plus, the trip to the lesson area up the gondola is (ahem) heavenly.