Vail’s Top 10 Carving Trails

Jan. 30, 2015

Does your mouth water with the thought of skiing or riding on wide-open, groomed runs where you can carve clean arcs on pristine corduroy? Here is a list of the top 10 trails across Vail Mountain for choice groomed terrain to practice your carving skills.

Connor Walberg Palmer Hoyt Vail groomer

1. Simba – located off Pride Express Lift (#26) or from the Eagle Bahn Gondola (#19) out of Lionshead, this trail is often overlooked as skiers make their way to Vail’s Back Bowls. The wide, rolling terrain really allows you to get in the groove.

2. Lodgepole – accessible from the top of the Avanti Express Lift (#2) via Eagle’s Nest Ridge, the first section of Lodgepole is where it is at. This run really makes full use of the classic, rolling terrain that is unique to the western portion of the Front-Side of the mountain.

3. Hunky Dory – scope out this trail is below you as you ascend Wildwood Express Lift (#3). What this trail lacks in length it more than makes up for in width and changing fall lines.

4. Dealer’s Choice – a go-to run in Game Creek  Bowl, Dealer’s Choice is found by going past the top of Game Creek Express to Lost Boy trail. As wide as football field with a fairly consistent pitch, this trail is sure to serve up smiles big enough to make your teeth cold.

Snowboarder-Vail-CO5. Christmas – ride to the top of Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) and take a left turn just before Riva Ridge trail. While this trail may not be as wide as some of the other trails discussed, the lush spruce and fir trees offer an amazing backdrop for carving some round turns.

6. Northwoods – an iconic trail accessible off of the top of either Northwoods Express Lift (#11) or Mountaintop Express Lift (#4). The trail combines steep pitches with long, gentle run-outs that test both your mettle and your technical skills.

7. Sourdough – not surprisingly, this trail is below you as you ride up Sourdough Express Lift (#14). The top portion of this trail offers one of the best pitches one the mountain to learn how to get the necessary performance out of your equipment in order to carve. It is a perennial favorite among instructors in the Vail Ski and Snowboard School for introducing carving.

8. Headwall – the only black diamond to make the list, Headwall is accessible from lifts 4, 5, or 11. Its width and constant, steep pitch makes it a run that’s not for the faint of heart or less skilled skier/rider.

9. Chopstix – this trail is located on the upper-right side of Orient Express Lift (#21). A blank canvas of corduroy awaits you on this run. Great views of the Back Bowls and natural snow that is flawlessly groomed using our industry renowned “V” formation of grooming machines offers a chance to make your own masterpiece in the snow.

10. Grand Review – this trail starts at the top of Pete’s Express Lift (#39) in Blue Sky Basin. It is a long, winding run with a tree islands scattered throughout the whole run. Due to its unmatched blend of a groomer and a tree run, it is a must carve here at Vail.


Vail Ski School top trailsAuthor Jason Schetrompf is the Location Manager for the Adult Ski and Snowboard School at Golden Peak. Originally from Pennsylvania, he has been enjoying the Colorado Mountains since 2006. In addition to his duties at Vail, Jason enjoys working with other instructors as an Examiner with American Association of Snowboard Instructors – Rocky Mountain.  He also spends time writing articles and instructional manuals for PSIA/AASI – National.