Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
Sierra at Tahoe is a resort that covers both ends of the skiing continuum, from beginner to expert and everything in between.
Gentle green runs, a great ski school, over 100 acres of terrain dedicated to beginners, and four beginner-only surface lifts make Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort a popular destination for those just getting started on the hill.
Top notch tree skiing and 320 acres of expert level backcountry terrain at Huckleberry Canyon have accomplished riders and skiers heading to the resort with frequency.
Anything for intermediates? Half the trails are rated blue, with a wide selection of groomers of varying grades and plenty of fresh corduroy.
Sierra at Tahoe: Skiing and snowboarding
With 2,000 acres and a 2,212 ft vertical drop, Sierra at Tahoe’s 46 trails cover some ground across the mountain.
Three high-speed quads, five cozy doubles, and one triple whisk skiers and boarders up the mountain, with several separate areas on the mountain primarily defined by how they are accessed: Grandview, Huckleberry Canyon, Backside, Nob Hill and the West Bowl.
The Grand View Express lift, located behind the ski school, serves the east side of the mountain, delivering skiers and riders to spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.
At the top of the lift, 360 Smokehouse BBQ is a great spot to grab lunch, head up to the rooftop deck for a photo opp of the lake, and check out Huckleberry Canyon.
On the front side of the hill, skiers and riders will find a wide variety of terrain including bumps, groomers, and glades.
Just under the Grand View lift are some nice advanced runs or for a gliding groomer, head off toward the west to tackle the longest run on the mountain, Sugar n’ Spice, a 2.5 mile green run that winds down from the top of Grand View Express all the way to the lodge.
The Huckleberry Gates
A short hike from the top of the Grandview lift, the Huckleberry Canyon backcountry terrain can be accessed from five gates.
The 320 acres of Huckleberry Canyon delivers some of the most challenging inbounds backcountry skiing and boarding at Lake Tahoe.
With cliff drops, chutes, bowls, glades, and cornices, it’s steep, it’s deep, and it’s definitely an experts-only adventure.
While the extreme riding of Huckleberry Canyon is out of reach for most of us – it’s fabulous to watch some of the best in the sport tackle the incredible terrain. In 2016, Sierra at Tahoe held the inaugural Huck Cup, an IFSA Free World Qualifier event.
For two days, more than 50 of the top freeride skiers and snowboarders from around the world competed for Freeride World Tour qualifying points and a share of $5000 in prize money. It was an awesome display of tricks, thrills, and spills on the natural, rugged terrain. Be sure and mark your calendars for the annual event!
Heading off the back of the mountain from the Grandview lift, the Backside has some fun trails and is home to Sierra at Tahoe’s boarder cross features. Located on the south side of the mountain, the sunny Backside is best skied in the morning once spring rolls around.
Popular with riders of all levels, Nob Hill departs near the base area and delivers skiers and riders to a variety of challenges, including access to the very wide and somewhat steep intermediate run, Lower Main, that ends in the base area.
Moving to the west side of the mountain, West Bowl is a great place for intermediate and advanced skiers to play.
The high speed quad, West Bowl Express, accesses terrain ranging from long, fast cruisers to beautiful glade runs amidst the magnificent Red Fir trees for which Sierra at Tahoe is so well known.
Sierra at Tahoe has six terrain parks, the Smokey BoarderX course, and a halfpipe.
Designed with an emphasis on advancing skill levels in appropriate conditions, Sierra’s Burton Progression Park was created with first-timers in mind. From there, freestylers can tackle jumps, boxes, rails and build their trick repertoire at the various parks located throughout the resort.
The kiddos love Sierra at Tahoe’s on-mountain themed adventure zones. With animated characters, educational signs and pint-sized terrain features, children are entertained as they learn their way around the snow.
Sierra at Tahoe Ski school
Along with a highly-friendly environment for those just finding their way around the slopes, Sierra at Tahoe has a great ski and snowboard school for riders of all ages and all abilities.
Parents rave about the Wild Mountain children’s program, which both gets kids on skis and entertains them at the same time. Located next to the Main Lodge, programs are grouped by age and ability and are designed to encourage children’s love of the sport and their progression through skill levels.
Sierra at Tahoe: Dining & drinking
Sierra has some tasty options for dining and drinking, both on-mountain and at the lodge…
At the Main Lodge & Solstice Plaza
Java Junction – Serving a wide variety of coffee selections, as well as breakfast and lunch items
Mama’s Kitchen – With fare from breakfast burritos to soups, sandwiches, pizza and mac and cheese
Aspen Café – Grilled items and a variety of lunch options served with one hour of free WiFi access
Golden Bear Terrace – Located outside the Main Lodge, specializing in burgers, sandwiches, craft beers and goggle tans
Solstice Eatery – Specializing in tasty wraps, salads and whole wheat and gluten-free pizzas
Sierra Pub & Deli – Serving sandwiches, nachos, and pizza – a great spot for après with live music, happy hour specials and “local bar” atmosphere.
And perhaps the best beer bargain around – join the Sierra Pub Club and get happy hour prices all day long.
Baja Grill – At the foot of the West Bowl Express, the spot for fresh fish tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and tacos
360° Smokehouse BBQ – Located at the top of the Grandview lift at 8,852 feet, specializing in soups, BBQ and stunning Tahoe views (they have a veggie burger as well)
Where to stay
A wide variety of hotels and resorts are available in South Lake Tahoe which is about 17 miles from Sierra at Tahoe.
The complimentary South Shore Shuttle provides transportation from South Lake Tahoe to Sierra at Tahoe – shuttle times and information can be found on the Sierra at Tahoe website or by calling 530-659-7453.
Getting to Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort
Sierra at Tahoe’s address is 1111 Sierra at Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, CA 95735.
Sierra at Tahoe is located 74 miles, or about 1 hour 45 minutes, from the Reno Tahoe airport. From Sacramento, Sierra at Tahoe is 91 miles, or about 1 hour 45 minutes, on Highway 50.
From the San Francisco airport (SFO), Sierra at Tahoe is 188 miles or about 3 1/2 hours.
Know before you go
Check on the Sierra at Tahoe website for discounts before you head to Sierra at Tahoe – the resort is known year after year for affordable lift tickets and great discounts on first timer lessons.
Reserve lessons and day care in advance. The kids programs are very popular, so reserve a spot for the little ones in advance. On the day of the lesson, drop off parking is available directly in front of the school.
Check the road conditions before you go. Chains are required frequently on Highway 50 so check the road conditions before heading to the resort at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
Plan on traffic on the weekends and holidays. Sierra at Tahoe draws a big Sacramento and Bay area crowd, so arrive early to spend more time on the slopes and less in your car. Or, better yet, come midweek for no lift lines and plenty of untouched pow.