This post is part of a series from ETR on Copper Mountain’s best runs. Check out other lists of top runs at Copper Mountain here.
Welcome to the best tree skiing at Copper Mountain
Copper isn’t necessarily widely known as a tree-skiing paradise, but that is a real shame in our opinion. If you know where to look, Copper has many excellent glades and some absolutely fantastic tree skiing. However, most of these runs tend to fly under the radar – they are spread out all across the mountain and aren’t always the easiest to find. But this is a good thing. In our experience, that means the best trees runs at Copper tend to stay far less tracked out than at places like Keystone, Steamboat, or Winter Park.
Here is where we like to head out into the forest.
#5. 17 Glade
When you think about hidden tree gems at Copper, this is a perfect example. With a non-obvious entrance, a consistent & steep pitch, and trees spread out just enough to offer amazing freshies, 17 Glade can offer some of the best powder and tree skiing on the mountain. The trees start out thinner at the top with plenty of pick-your-own-line options. The pitch is steep enough to make it real fun, but not so much that it raises the pucker-factor. On a good day, big powder turns and forest floating are the rule in here. It can be paradise. As you work your way lower down, things tend to tighten up a bit as the angle eventually eases and dumps you back out on to Bouncer. The mix of usually good snow and wide turns should make this a favorite for experts and advanced-intermediates alike.
ETR Pro Tip: Drop in slightly down the hill from the signs for the glade. The lower you drop, the more spread out the trees tend to be, which makes for better turns. It will also give you a longer line until you eventually dump out on Bouncer.
Getting There: Access midway down Collage. 17 Glade has a non-obvious entrance on Skier’s left, so keep your eye out for the sign. There is no gate and you can drop in anywhere you like. Regardless of your line, you will eventually exit onto Bouncer which allows you to head back to either East or Center Village.
#4. Lower Enchanted Forest
Lower Enchanted Forest carries a name which evokes a high standard. Thankfully, this series of treed runs and glades lives up to the hype. On a good day, the runs back here can be magical. The key to this is a combination of the funky access and the inability to lap the area. This is a one-and-done for most skiers. Also, Lower Enchanted Forest sits just below tree line and it is on the leeward side of big winds which blow over from Union Bowl. The result is usually deep and consistent snow.
There are quite a few different lines up here and most are consistently good. The pitch is not all that steep, and broken ‘runs’ eventually fall into thicker, shallower trees as you descend in elevation. Coming from the alpine and descending into these trees gives a cool sense of adventure. Odds are good that there will not be too many other people around. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to find a bad line in this forest.
ETR Pro Tip: The path to the best runs is from the top of Storm King. Take the Lillie G Traverse to the second gate. Drop into Upper Enchanted Forest and look for the famous natural half pipe and ‘motorcycle jump’ on your way down. On a big snow day, feel free to huck the jump and completely eat it into (usually) a very soft landing. Continue down on a line towards Sierra Lift as you enter Lower Enchanted Forest. This line is unofficially dubbed the Ho Chi Minh Trees.
Getting There: There are a few ways to get to Lower Enchanted Forest. You can take an awkward, steep and icy traverse from the bottom of the Storm King T-Bar lift. The runs under this are usually very good, but access is a pain. We like to take Storm King up and then drop in via Upper Enchanted Forest (an amazing run in and of itself). Regardless, be careful on the exit – if you stay in the trees too long you’ll dump out below access to the Sierra lift and have to head down all the way to Center Village. But then again, the further skier’s right you stay the longer you will get to enjoy the trees.
#3. Spaulding Glades
Spaulding Glades offer what might be the most ‘classic’ tree skiing at Copper. This will probably feel closest to other Colorado favorites, but that is quite a compliment. These glades are fun. With the exception of a steep pitch at the south entrance, the angle is not too bad. This is good because the trees can get pretty tight as you go further down. However, this makes for a fun, but very manageable challenge. Be ready for quick turns, head ducking, and tree dodging excitement the whole way. The occasional root or hanging limb is guaranteed to keep you on your toes.
The only way to get back here is via Spaulding Bowl and it takes an extra lift ride to get out. The result is that these glades usually stay pretty fresh long after the snow has fallen. There are a myriad of lines down, so there is a good chance you will get to make your own tracks on a powder day.
ETR Pro Tips:
- You can enter via the extreme south side of Spaulding bowl if you like; this leads to the only steep pitch just as you enter the trees. However, if you take the second gate (straight ahead as you first look down from Spaulding Ridge) this leads to a flatter, but much thinner and better gladed option. This is our favorite part of Spaulding Glades. You’re guaranteed to get thicker trees as you descend, so we like to mix it up in the more open spaces down the center of the fall line first.
- For whatever reason it always seems to take a while for this to fill in. Avoid early season runs if you value your skis.
- A rope line runs right to left in the trees, eventually forcing you out onto Hodson’s Cut. The rope is a great exit strategy if you’re sick of the thickness. Or if you want more, simply stray left to avoid it as you descend.
Getting There: Take Storm King up and then pick your line down Spaulding Bowl. A traverse across Boardwalk to Park Place or Marvin Gardens can hold some awesome snow. This is also the easiest access point to the glades. A spicier option is to drop straight down Patrol Chute or Calendar Chute and then veer right to access the northern gate and the best open sections.
#2. Union Meadows
This is one of our favorite areas of the mountain, simply because of the feel you get back here. Union Meadows is a series of treed runs and glades on the extreme west of the front side of Copper. Yet again, it is a very non-obvious path to get here that is way off the beaten path. This is one of the most isolated spots on the whole mountain, and you will notice. But man does it hold snow. In fact, perhaps more so than anywhere else at Copper, Union Meadows will retain fresh stashes long after a storm. Such is the result of a huge area that is hard to get to.
There are actually 4 different zones designated by color as you traverse across. It can take some time to figure out all the quirks and secrets back here, but that’s part of the fun. Once you pick a general line, you can follow any number of options down. One strategy is to look for the color-coded alphabet signs on the trees. These give the most obvious paths down.
Or simply have fun exploring. This is an awesome place to do it. Regardless of where you go, you are going to find relatively mellow trees with a healthy variety of open glades, occasional steeps, a hidden bowl, and plenty more in between.
ETR Pro Tips:
- The Blue Line has a section which contains the steepest trees of the bunch. It’s short, but it is tight and steep for a quick moment.
- Our (very subjective) favorite color is the Red Line. This tends to hold awesome terrain and is the longest before you hit the cat track.
- Speaking of the cat track (which takes you out), keep looking for options to hop back into the trees on skier’s right. If you play it right, you can stay in the woods all the way down to Soliloquy.
- But if you do take the cat track out, look out for ‘the waterfall’ (marked by a Danger! sign). This steep section on the egress is a gaper-eating ice-sheet of the worst variety.
Getting There: Head past the Celebrity Ridge Poma lift and traverse across as far you want. It’s a long way to go all the way to the rope. But generally speaking, the further you go, the better the snow. This is due to the lack of traffic. However, the further you go, the quicker your run will eventually dump you onto the cat track.
#1 Black Bear Glade & Free Fall Glade
We’ve arrived at the big boys. These two runs are steep, deep, bumpy and give (in our opinion) the best gladed skiing on the hill. Of all the tree runs we like, these two are the toughest, but they are also the best. Buckle up – on a good day, these two can be epic.
Both glades were cut in the late 2000’s as an early part of Copper’s Master Development plan. The results are prime. Each run offers a very steep, consistent, and relatively open glade the whole way down. The trees are not too terribly tight, but this is good news given the pitch, bumps, and challenges therein. When the snow has fallen, the turns in here are basically an endless series of delight. One steep and deep turn leads to another, and the fun just never seems to stop. On days with less snow, there is still lots of fun to be had. The coverage tends to be pretty good given the aspect, so it can be a cool ‘navigational’ challenge to pick your way down through all the mixed terrain.
ETR Pro Tip: Both lines are awesome. It’s hard to go wrong. Free Fall is the steeper and tighter of the two, while Black Bear is a bit more mellow and offers a wider, more open set of options. Free Fall is probably the first choice on a powder day, with Black Bear making a bit more sense if it’s been a while since the last dump.
Getting There: Most people miss out on these simply because of the hidden entrance. I think this was intentional by Copper and thankfully so. Just past where Oh No turns into Rosi’s Run, go slow and look for the signs marking the glades in the trees on the right. Once you’re in here, it is unlikely you will see anyone else. At the bottom, either cut hard left to get back to Super Bee (some short walking will be required) or head over to the Alpine Lift for the slow ride back up.
The Bonus Lap: Freemont Glades
Freemont Glades might not technically be as thick as a more traditional tree run, but what they lack in that category, they make up for in everything else. They are steep, remote, long, hard to get to, and hold the absolute best snow on the mountain. On a good day, the lower trees are your best opportunity at getting legitimate face shots. As a general rule, the further you go, the better the snow as most riders are too lazy to walk all the way to the end. But regardless, the only access here is via the free snow cat rides (usually open Friday – Sunday) or via a long walk around Copper Bowl. The result is that the goods stay in these trees for a long time.
ETR Pro Tip: Bring your beacon for VIP access to the snow cat. Copper has done a lot to promote avy safety recently, and part of that is by incentivising safe snow travel. There are two lines for the snow cat: one for people with beacons, and one for everyone else. In our experience, the ratio of beacons to non is approximately 1:10. It pays to bring one along.
Other Articles From Exploring the Rockies’ Guide to Copper Mountain
- Copper Guide Home
- Copper’s Best Tree Runs
- Copper’s Best Steep Runs
- Copper’s Best Cruiser Runs
- Copper’s Best Mogul Runs
- Copper’s Best Poder Stashes
- The 10 Steepest Runs at Copper
Disclaimer: ETR’s Guide to Copper Mountain is an entirely subjective, unofficial guide to the mountain and is not officially associated with Copper in any way. All of the insights here are simply our opinions based on many runs down the hill. It goes without saying, but follow all resort rules, evaluate conditions as you go, and ski at your own risk.