Day 1 ITINERARY - VAIL FRONT SIDE
Trails: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert
Overview – From Vail Village or Lion’s Head - Start on West Side – Game Creek Bowl - Lunch @ Wildwood - Mountain Top – Northwoods – Return to Base
8:30 AM – Getting Going
From Vail Village: Take Gondola 1 to quickly ascend 2,000 vertical feet to mid-Vail. Exit the gondola and head right (past the Mid-Mountain restaurant) to take Chair 3 (Wildwood, high speed quad) to the top of Game Creek Bowl, just past the Wildwood Smokehouse.
From Lion’s Head: Take the Eagle Bahn Gondola to Eagles Nest. Then take the quick traverse to Chair 7 (Game Creek Express) to the peak of Game Creek Bowl. Take this opportunity to check out the the Game Creek runs so you have a good sense of which to choose a little later.
2. 9 AM – 10AM – Front Side Warm Up
Take a run or two down Hunky Dory, regularly groomed and wide open, its great for warming up. Return to the bottom of Chair 3, ready to enter Game Greek Bowl and carve some turns.
3. 10 AM – 12PM – Game Creek Bowl
Game Creek is the only part of Vail’s front side called a bowl. Though some don’t consider it a true bowl, it has all of the characteristics. Trails for varying ability levels converge at the bottom of Chair 7. Showboat runs underneath the lift and is most enjoyable with fresh snow. Early in the day it is shaded and can take awhile to soften up on cooler mornings. If coming from Lion’s Head, sneak a peak while riding Chair 7 and then decide if the conditions are right for you.
Coming from Vail Village, enter Game Creek and head west by traversing along Lost Boy and choosing to drop in through the Woods, Baccarat or Dealer’s Choice to return to the bottom of Chair 7. On your ride up, take a look at the different trail options and have your pick. The Woods is generally not groomed and can be a good opportunity to practice on some bigger but soft bumps. Just be sure to look carefully before dropping in. Take your time exploring the variety of terrain here.
4. 12PM – Lunch at Wildwood Smokehouse (see more on lunch options)
Wildwood Smokehouse is one of our favorites for on-mountain dining. Authentic BBQ with delicious smoked meats in platter or sandwich format. Sauces are homemade and super flavorful. Try to be there early as some options sell out. On a nice day, there is plenty of outdoor seating with spectacular vistas overlooking the backside of the mountain – perfect to build excitement for your afternoon adventures. (Value tip – Epic pass holders eat lunch before 12PM or after 2PM to save 15%)
5. 1PM – 3:30PM – The Front Middle – Northwoods and Mountain Top
Start to burn off that BBQ by heading down Hunky Dory. Take Chair 4 (Mountain Top) to access the neighboring peak, Patrol Headquarters. Exit the lift to the right and take Timberline to Northwoods. Northwoods provides a gentle pitch with loosely spaced trees. Take a few runs up and down Chair 11 (Northwoods Express), perfecting your turns and working up some speed. When you grow tired of these longer runs, stay left at the top of Chair 11 and take a few of the shorter, eastern facing front side runs – Whistle Pig, Cappuccino or Christmas (Swingsville is a gentle green if you are feeling tired late it the day) and Zot offers some steeper terrain if you are eager to try something a little more challenging.
6. Returning to Base
Feeling tired? There is no shame in riding Gondola 1 to return to the base. Otherwise, from the bottom of Chair 4, take a nice long cruising run to return to Vail Village. Follow the Trans-Montane Catwalk to the Blue portion of Riva Ridge and follow Skip Road to the North Face Cat Walk to avoid the bumps on Tourist Trap. The North Face Cat Walk loops back to Riva Ridge – follow this gentle, wide open slope to the bottom.
To return to Lion’s Head, take Upper Lion’s Way from the bottom of Chair 4 and follow it through Avanti Park and to Lower Lions Way – then take the lower portion of Born Free to return to Lion’s Head Base.
Congratulations – you’ve explored Vail’s Front Side - Time for Aprés Ski!