Kirkwood Ski Resort Terrain Overview
Kirkwood offers some of the most diverse and accessible expert ski terrain within the Lake Tahoe Region.
Chair 10 – The Wall: The most prolific expert lift and where you’ll be greeted with a “Skull and Crossbones – Experts Only” sign as you enter the lift line corral. You can access some amazing Cutes, Gullies, Bowls, and Glades, but only after dropping off the cornice on the top. Be sure to locate Norm’s Nose, Eagle Bowl, All The Way, and Notch Cute. However, on a powder day, most of the goods are hanging out in plain site, just under the cliff bands, skiers left as you drop in.
Chair 6 – Cornice Express: Experts will want to go left or right off the top of the lift and traverse the ridge before dropping in. The best chutes are The Fingers, Expert Cutes, and Chamoix. On the skiers left head out towards Sentinel Bowl, and along the way you’ll see an orange “Cliff Area” sign – this is the location of Little Jim’s and Big Jim’s (You’ll know the difference) – here you can test your flight time, roll up the windows and hope for soft snow on the LZ. OR – head our further past Sentinel Bowl out into the Palisades where you’ll find amazing open bowls and glades. Usually one of the last areas to get tracked out on a powder day. Heading off the other direction to skiers right of the lift you’ll find The Fingers and Expert Cutes – all the features you could imagine to get air, get vertical, and go deep.
Chair 4 – Sunrise Lift & the sometimes open Poma top of Chair 2: From the top of Chair 4 head skiers left until you hit the closed area signs, and slip down until the saddle are begins to open. There’s some super steep and tight cutes to the North side of the ridge, all the across up to the top of the Poma. Just pick your spot, grip it and rip it. This area usually holds cold winter snow, even on warmer spring days due to its unique location and Northern exposures. Skiers Right off the lift offers some hidden tree skiing on Fawn Ridge, a massive cornice called The Wave, and gates to the back country. Be sure to check in with the Ski Patrol, carry the right gear, and honor the buddy system if you’re heading out into the back country.
Kirkwood is quite aggressive and grooms slopes normally left to skier pack. This makes Kirkwood quite unique in the Tahoe region where groomers typically are more high intermediate to low advanced. Here at Kirkwood, they tend to be a bit steeper than other local resorts.
Chair 6 – Cornice Express: You’ll typically find 2-5 groomed runs off the top including Sentinel Bowl, Look Out, Zach’s, Monte Wolf and on occasion Olympic which is the steepest of the bunch.
Chair 11 – The Reut: When you get off the lift, head skiers right to locate Conestoga, which is one of the best groomed speed runs with fun rollers and pitch changes.
Chair 4 – Sunrise: The best advanced groomed runs tend to be skiers left off the top. Hully Gully and Cold Shoulder offer some uncrowded and wide open high speed groomers, and some very fun gully skiing. Also, if you’re looking to get into some powder, this lift is a great place to go. The wide open bowl offers amazing powder runs, many that are at a lower pitch than the Wall and Cornice – making it quite approachable for Learn to Pow Ski adventures.
Kirkwood is plenty fun for Intermediate skiers and offers a good range of frontside and backside skiing. In fact, you can feel comfortable skiing all but The Wall and Cornice and make a day of adventure traversing the broad mountain.
Chair 7 – Timber Creek Express: This offers very easy, learn to ski type intermediate terrain. This sequestered part of the mountain allows you to progress from beginner to intermediate with a modest graduation.
Chair 5 – Solitude: Here is where you’ll find some park skiing, with some short and modestly steep intermediate runs. Head left, head right – everything is quite good, just a bit on the short side.
Chair 11 – The Reut: This is one of the best lifts for Intermediate skiers. The most popular run on the mountain, for good reason, is buckboard which offers a wide run, terrain changes, good snow, and smiles.
Chair 4 – Sunrise: Head out to the backside, pack a lunch and hit the sun. Intermediate skiers can spend the whole day out here with a full range of slopes to challenge your skills. The lift is wide and slow, but offers the longest and funnest intermediate terrain on the mountain. When the sun shines, there’s nothing better than Chair 4 – however, when a storm hits, head back to the frontside … quickly. Visibility is tough here when the clouds roll in, and the winds at the top will rip the skin off your face.
Chair 2 – Caples Crest: This is another short but fun lift. Lines can get a little long here, especially on powder days and holidays as this is mainly a transport lift to the backside. That said, under the lift you’ll find some fun runs with good pitch changes. This can also be weather impacted with winds, and the lift is from the ’70’s – you’ll want to stick to 5 & 11 on stormy days
Chair 9 – Bunny / Timber Creek Learn to Ski Center / Mighty Mountain Kids: This is the best place on the mountain for new skiers. You’re way off the grid and isolated from the busier runs with high speed bombers. There are some expert runs above that feed into the top of the lift, but most of the Kirkwood Expert skiers are respectful of the learners out here. You can get your rentals, lessons, kids programs and everything you’ll need to get a good start on the sport. If you’re athletic, you might even graduate to some of the modest intermediate runs off Timber Creek Express by the end of you visit.