Best Ski Resorts for Tree Skiing
May 22, 2020
Zipping in and out of trees in fresh waist deep powder is a dream day on the slopes for many skiers. There are a number of ski resorts that are situated in the right alpine zone where there is the perfect mix of well-spaced trees and light dry powder snow that make for incredible skiing conditions. The team at Scout absolutely love tree-skiing, often finding our one favourite line and making chairlift laps well into the afternoon. Here's Scout's picks for the best ski resorts for tree skiing.
Note: We haven't included resorts in Europe in our list as the majority of them are situated in high alpine areas where glacier skiing is the norm (and there are minimal trees to ski!).
The one resort that is well-renowned for tree-skiing is Steamboat Springs. Advanced skiers will love the perfectly gladed aspen trees, slopes with many different pitches, and a good amount of the famous champagne powder snow each year means the trees are the go-to option on a powder day. Many runs also have wider spaced trees for those wanting to take the next step in their skiing. Our favourites spots for tree skiing in Steamboat are off the Morningside Chairlift, Pioneer Ridge off the Pony Express Chairlift, Shadows and Closets from the top of the gondola, and the local's favourite Christmas Tree Bowls (worth the short hike!).
Niseko is one of favourite ski resorts for tree-skiing. The Beech trees are perfectly spaced to make some wide and deep turns in the famous Ja-Pow - it’s real hero skiing and an experience like nothing else. In particular, the side and backcountry skiing that is accessible via the gated system boast some incredible patches of untouched trees, meaning some very memorable first tracks. 'Strawberry' and 'Blueberry' fields are the go-to spots for tree-skiing in Niseko, and with an annual snowfall of 15 metres, you're sure to experience some of the deepest tree skiing of your life.
On the South Island of Japan, Madarao stands out in particular for incredible tree skiing, especially since it is one of the few resorts in Japan to actively encourage off-piste skiing. Situated a little off the beaten path, the resort receives less crowds so you're not fighting for fresh tracks (over 11 metres of snowfall annually). Off the top single chairlift (#13) there’s some fantastic tree skiing on runs called Powder Theatre and Powder Wave 2. Although it’s not very steep, the terrain has some fun rolling jumps through nicely spaced trees – and best of all you may even have it all to yourself!
Out of the four mountains in Aspen, Snowmass is our pick for advanced tree skiing. If you're looking for well-spaced Aspen trees, gradual pitches and rolling terrain, there are a number of glades on offer at Snowmass. There is something for every level of skier, with wide-open intermediate tree skiing as well as tighter more technical tree runs. Our favourite runs at Snowmass include the Powerline Trees (off Big Burn Chairlift), Frog Pong and Hanging Alley Glades (off the High Alpine Chairlift) and for those wanting to earn their turns, a short hike up Elk Camp Lift will reward skiers with amazing powder tree runs on Burnt Mountain.
One thing we love about Jackson Hole is the wide variety of tree skiing on offer. The majority of the terrain boasts perfectly spaced trees so there is no shortage of super fun tree runs no matter where you choose to ski. For those looking for some tighter tree sections and more of a challenge, we recommend appropriately named Woodsey Woods (off the Bridger Gondola) and Saratoga Bowl (off the Après Vous Chairlift). There are some fantastic mellow glades under the Sublette Chair too for intermediate skiers.
The Powder Highway in BC is famous for incredible snowfall - team this up with some of the best gladed terrain in North America at Red Mountain and you're in tree-skiing heaven! Advanced and expert powder fiends have an endless number of lines to ski, especially with barely any lift lines, 360 degree descents, and great off-piste. There are well-spaced trees that allow for a perfect introduction to those new to powder skiing, and plenty of steeps, chutes, and tight trees to make skiers feel like their way out in the backcountry. For the best tree skiing, Grey Basin on Granite Mountain, Paradise, Pale Face, & War Eagle runs are our favourites to ski.
Mt Bachelor in the Pacific North-West is big and beautiful, and is home to incredible tree-skiing. The volcanic landscape of the resort makes for serious roly-poly terrain, terrific steeps, and plenty of gladed Ponderosa pine trees. The trees are widely-spaced and with over 11m of snowfall annually, is often caked with fresh snowfall and surrounded by pockets of powder just waiting for you to explore. The resort itself is huge and there are endless ridges, dips and gullies of trees providing lots of variety. Our top picks are the runs off Rainbow Chair, and the longer black runs off the Northwest Chair.
Rusutsu has fantastic tree skiing and some of the best powder in the whole of Japan - it's proximity to the West coast of Hokkaido means an annual snowfall of over 13 metres! On a powder day, especially on Mt Isola side of Rusutsu, you’ll be able to find plenty of stashes of powder in the gladed trees, and the terrain is surprisingly steep for Japanese standards. Most of the tree runs are accessible with minimal traversing (and no hiking needed) and tend to lead back to the chairlift so finding your favourite spot to lap is easy! Our favourite gladed areas can be found between the lifts on Mt Isola.
On the South Island of Honshu, our top pick for tree-skiing is definitely Cortina at Hakuba. Advanced skiers will absolutely love the off-piste tree runs in Cortina, and having steeper terrain (and higher snowfall) than the surrounding resorts it offers some of the best powder runs. The trees are well spaced with decent gradients, and the ridge lines offer some fantastic lines. The side-country is easily accessed for untouched turns, while the best powder tree skiing can be found in the backcountry (a ski guide is a must!). Our go-to spots in Cortina for tree skiing area are just off the Number 4 Chairlift.
Renowned for its consistent snowfall, epic powder days, and distinct lack of crowds, Whitewater is also one of our top picks for tree skiing in British Columbia. The resort is expansive, with countless chutes, wide bowls, and high alpine glades with reasonably spaces trees that are home to fantastic pockets of light dry powder. Advancements in lift operations has increased the vertical drop available to skiers, creating some unforgettable runs for tree skiing. Anywhere to the right of the Glory Ridge chairlift is exceptional for tree-skiing, particularly Backside.