The Ski Mountain
Northstar at Tahoe (recently rebranded Northstar California) is a family friendly, mid-sized mountain with 3,000 skiable acres, nestled in Northern Lake Tahoe. The mountain doesn’t boast the most challenging terrain in Tahoe, but what it lacks in difficulty and summit elevation (less than 9,000 feet), it makes up for in variety. With some of the finest terrain parks in the world, a challenging backside, and well-maintained groomers, Northstar attracts families for the experience, intermediate skiers for the terrain and terrain park elites for the thrill and chance to train with the best. Blue runs account for 62 percent of the mountain’s terrain and most can be access from several trails that branch off the summit. A majority of resort’s 93 trails are located on the frontside and all funnel to the base village.
The Mountain Experience
Once a small mountain called Timber Farm, Northstar has transformed into one of the most experiential mountains in Tahoe and has become a top quality destination resort for those who can afford the best. Onsite hotels include the Ritz Carlton and the base village features upscale boutiques, cozy restaurants and an oversized ice rink with fire pits that serve as a natural congregating point. The ski mountain and its snow are as meticulously maintained as the village, so if you’re an intermediate skier staying all day on the snow, or a parent leading a family of varying skill levels, your experience should be just as rich.
Northstar at Tahoe’s Ski Terrain
• Beginner: Because only 13 percent of the mountain is beginner terrain, it’s best for beginners to stick to ski school, or the front side of the mountain. Aptly named, The Big Easy is a good place to get your feet underneath you. Northstar’s beginner terrain is perfectly pitched for those just starting out. Finish the day with a slide down Village Run for easy ski-out access; just remember to keep up the pace so you don’t get stuck on the flats.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: Primed for the intermediate skier, for those who like to start on easy intermediate terrain and progress to more challenging during the day, Northstar is tailor made. Even if you decide you’re ready to take on a black diamond run by day’s end, there are plenty that are skiable for strong intermediates. For warm up, traverse along the front of the mountain till you find Sidewinder, a great wide-open cruiser. For a bigger challenge, take Comstock Express to the summit and head down the West Ridge. For Northstar’s longest trail at 1.5 miles, ski the Logger Loop.
• Advanced: Northstar terrain is about 27 percent advanced, mostly on the steep backside of the mountain. For smooth groomers, Axe Handle is top notch and a safe bet for a great run. On powder days, hit Monument’s Glade, Prosser or Lookout Glade.
Around the Mountain
• Terrain Park: With seven terrain parks on the mountain, Northstar’s parks are a defining feature of the resort. Northstar lays claim to the biggest Superpipe in California and is a training venue for Olympian Shaun White. Beginners and those progressing their park skills can start out small with Lil Stash. Those looking to ‘go big or go home’ can head to Pinball and The Straits to test their mettle.
Pinball is a large park boasting countless park features like jibs, kickers, boxes, handrails, and some hefty-sized rollers. Riders can start off on smaller features, then work their way down the mountain, building up speed (and guts). The Straits, which sits just above Pinball is where big air reigns. Only the most experienced park riders should take on The Straits.
Northstar experiences a heck of a lot of bluebird days (after all, this is California), so always pack sunscreen and dress in layers as you’ll work up a sweat quickly. Northstar’s amenities have made it very popular, so to get in the most runs with the least crowds, start early and get high on the mountain, if you can ski on weekdays and not on or around school holidays and if you’re an advanced skier, get to the backside of the mountain.
Northstar offers an overwhelming amount of après options. If you’re with the kids grab a seat around the fire pits in the village and enjoy hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. For dinner, choose from casual spots like Rubicon Pizza or Tacos Jalisco, or opt for a more upscale dining experience like Mikuni’s (sushi) or Petra wine bar. If you want to knock elbows with locals after hours, check out TC’s Pub for good old-fashioned pub fare and numerous big screen TV’s.
A short drive to many destination ski resorts, world class mountain biking, and s popular river stretch.
From upscale condos to The Ritz-Carlton and The Hyatt Lodge, guests have numerous luxury lodging options. For a budget-friendly stay, check out rental houses located in neighboring towns like Truckee, King’s Beach and Tahoe Vista. The TART (Tahoe Area Regional Transit) stops in all these towns making getting to and from the mountain a breeze. Use the “Explore Northstar at Tahoe’s Best Ski Lodging Deals” box above and right to find your best Lodging choices.
Skiing with Kids
Northstar prides itself on its ski and snowboard teaching programs and offer options for all ages and ability levels. New for the 2014-15 season, Northstar introduced its Smart Terrain™ and terrain-based instruction program. The new program uses small berms, rollers and gently angled features to teach new skiers proper techniques for conquering similar, natural terrain they will encounter once they advance from these man-made features.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost
By Jillian Ragoo