Five Must-Ski Trails at Beaver Creek

Don't miss these top runs for advanced to expert skiers.

By Devon O’Neil December 15, 2020 Published in the Winter/Spring 2020–2021 issue of Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine

When it comes to skiing, the menu at modern-day Beaver Creek is like a different species compared with the original. The resort remains as perfect a place to learn as there is in North America; now, however, with more than four times the acreage and some of the longest double-black runs in Colorado, advanced and expert skiers have as many reasons to visit as those teaching their 4-year-old to make a pizza. Here are five runs not to miss at the Beav.

1. It was the most famous run when the resort opened, and you could argue CENTENNIAL—host of the 1989 World Championship downhill—remains the marquee attraction 40 years later. You start at the summit off the Cinch Express lift, elevation 11,440 feet, and race down the fall line for 2.75 miles and 3,340 vertical feet, riding the spine of the mountain, in full view of everyone on the chair, until you finish at the base village. “When it’s groomed and you can ski it top to bottom, it’s breathtaking. It really is,” says ski patrol director Addy McCord.

2. Of course, schussing Centennial is not the only way to get that feeling. Both Carl Eaton and McCord consider HARRIER, accessed by heading skier’s left from the top of Centennial Express, to be a personal must-hit if the snow is good. “Unfortunately, so do a lot of other people,” chuckles McCord. “But it’s the place to go scoot off—a long, cool run that you can ski 10 times and have 10 absolutely different experiences on it.” Adds Eaton, “It’s all natural snow, no snowmaking except at the very top. And they usually only groom half the run, so if there’s good powder, you can get some fluffy turns for a while and then hop back on the corduroy.”

3. Among the Grouse Mountain steeps, a handful of runs get most of the glory, from in-your-face bumps on Osprey to the more secluded Royal Elk Glade. But somehow SCREECH OWL tends to be overlooked, and it shouldn’t be. “It holds snow because it’s north-facing, the powder stays good, it’s steep so it’s fun, and it’s not super popular because it’s kind of tucked off to the side,” says McCord. Stay hard skier’s right off the Grouse Mountain chair and follow the fall line.

4. GOLDEN EAGLE, which doubles as the Birds of Prey downhill course, doesn’t get groomed every day, which means it’s hard to time just right after a storm. But if the stars align and you know it was groomed right before the heavens started to dump, head there right away. “That’s kind of my favorite run, when there’s a foot of fresh on top of smooth corduroy on Birds of Prey,” says VP of mountain operations Gary Shimanowitz. “I can come over the Brink and arc turns like I’m Hermann Maier.” It’s easy enough to join Golden Eagle partway down after riding the Birds of Prey Express, but for the top-to-bottom experience, access it from Cinch Express.

5. After 30 years working at Beaver Creek and 10 years skiing it before that, Carl Eaton prioritizes quality turns over quantity these days. But the resort’s director of lift maintenance still gets jazzed every time he gets to ski one of his favorite lines: BALD EAGLE to FALCON PARK on Grouse Mountain. “It stair-steps, and each little pitch drops down and gets a little steeper,” Eaton says. “By the time you’re near the bottom, it’s really steep.” Stay skier’s left off the Grouse Mountain lift, then join up with Bald Eagle and ski the fall line until bearing slightly right onto Falcon Park for the final thigh-burning pitches.  

Did you know?

  •  Beaver Creek has 24 lifts, including two gondolas and 11 high-speed quads.
  •  Of the resort’s 1,832 skiable acres, 39 percent is expert/advanced, 42 percent intermediate, and 19 percent beginner.
  •  The resort averages 323 inches of snow and 275 days of sunshine each year.
  •  Measured from Arrowhead Village to the summit of Cinch Express, Beaver Creek’s vertical drop is 4,040 feet.
  • They may not tweet when they’re here, but celebrities  Beaver Creek. Among those who have skied the Beav: Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, John Elway, Tom Hanks, Kelsey Grammer, Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • You can rent the former Beaver Creek home of President Gerald R. Ford. With seven bedrooms, 10.5 baths, an indoor pool, a “presidential office,” and a new $4 million renovation, rates start at $12,635 a week.
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