No-frills, difficult terrain, and mostly locals make up the A-Basin we all know and love. But whether you’re a veteran to the ski area or are just getting your feet wet in Montezuma Bowl, there are a few hidden runs, access options, and food items on the mountain that you’ll want to know about. With insight from Leigh Hierholzer, Director of Marketing at A-Basin, and our local experience, we’re peeking into every side of the mountain. So whether you’re looking for backcountry gates, lesser-known runs, or just some damn good mountain food, we’ve got you covered with nine of A-Basin’s best-kept secrets.
1. The 14ers
What: Hidden tree runs
Where: East back side
Why we love it: When you get to the summit of A-Basin facing the back side (Montezuma Bowl), head left along Mountain Goat Traverse, and keep up your speed. You’re going all the way past the first set of trees at Tieze’s Claim to the 14ers, which are three different tree runs named after three of Colorado’s most famous 14ers—Grays, Torreys and Bierstadt. These runs are on a trail map and aren’t hike out, but not many know they’re back there or make it far enough across the traverse to check them out. We’re telling you though, they’re well worth it if you love trees runs and all of it to yourself.
2. Zuma Cornice
What: Extreme terrain, hike-in to chutes
Where: West back side
Why we love it: OK, so this isn’t that under the radar, but it is a hike, weeding out a lot of people who aren’t willing to unstrap. But what they don’t know is it’s not a far hike at all—no skins needed. If you love to ski drop-in bowls with lots of powder, this is your heaven. Plus, lots of people bail out in the early stages, but if you make it far enough over to End Zone and you’ve got some pretty untouched snow. Make it even further Elephant’s Trunk and you’re really out there, and have the option to go all the way to the boundary or to make your way back to Zuma lift with no extra hiking through the trees of Gentling’s Glade.
3. The Beavers
What: New bowl and tree runs
Where: West front side
Why we love it: The Beavers has always been an incredible area with lots of tree skiing, some steep groomed runs, and huge bowls. But, it was always a bit of a trek to hike back out at the bottom. This season, A-Basin opened a lift to get you to The Beavers, and we’re all about it. While there are more people on this side of the mountain now, it’s still an area people aren’t familiar with, so go be one of the first to check it out!
“Something that we’ve never offered before is that type of tree skiing or going down a groomed run with the big trees on the sides. Because so much of our terrain is above timberline, that this is a new experience over there,” said Hierholzer about The Beavers.
4. Zuma Hike-Back Trail Area
What: Hike-back tree runs
Where: Lower back side, past the main ski area after Zuma lift
Why we love it: This is definitely a secret of A-Basin that isn’t all that difficult to get to. If you’re looking for tree runs and un-groomed snow areas, this area features five great runs of varying difficulty and terrain. Ski to the boundary of A-Basin, then hike back up to Zuma lift on the Zuma hike-back trail.
5. East Wall
What: Access to extreme, hike-to terrain
Where: East front side
Why we love it: This is the most extreme terrain in the ski area, and allows you to get a feel for backcountry without the danger of an unmaintained area. The easiest way to access this is to enter through the North Pole Hiking Gate and traverse over towards the Arapahoe Basin summit. From there, you can ski down North Pole into either Land of the Giants and the Lower East Wall or back into the main ski area.
6. Black MountainBBQ
Where: Black Mountain Lodge
Why we love it: Now for what you really want…mountain food that isn’t cardboard or double the price of normal food. There’s a full-on smoker up at the mid-level lodge, Black Mountain Lodge, so there’s a whole menu of smoked grub.
“We have four chefs now. So, if you go up to black mountain lodge which is our midway dining lodge, our menu is not like you would usually get at a ski area,” said Hierholzer.
Snag half a slab of ribs, a quarter of a smoked chicken, Carolina pulled pork or beef brisket for around $15-$20.
7. 6th Alley Ramen
Where: 6th Alley Bar and Grill
Why we love it: We can’t be the only ones who love our soup on the snowy mountain, and 6th Alley’s Shoyu Ramen really takes it up a notch. With asian style veggies, egg, pork and that flavorful broth your craving.
8. The Beach
What: Reserved front parking spot
Where: Behind the Molly Hogan lift
Why we love it: You may have heard of or seen the beach, but have you ever been part of it? Now is the time to reserve one of these beach spots, as the prices keep going up as the season goes on. You get two parking spots, a picnic table, and a reserved place all day. Get a few friends together and split a beach spot for a fun way to spend the day at A-Basin and take breaks for the cheapest beer you can get — the beer you brought.
9. Cheap Beer
What: Draft and bottle beer
Where: 6th Alley Bar and Grill
Why we love it: You can get a pint of draft beer for $4.50-$6.50 or bottled beer for $4 at 6th Alley — at a ski resort. Need we say more?