How To Hike and Find Powder Days After a Storm at Alpine Meadows, CA

D’Arcy McLeish | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
squaw valley, alpine meadows, california
Skiing and riding blower pow on a bluebird day at Alpine Meadows. Image: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA. Credit: Ben Arnst | SVAM

Brought to you by Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA

There’s magic when it snows at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA. Both mountains combine to offer up some of the best inbounds terrain of any resort in North America. But even when the storm settles and the usual suspects get tracked out, Alpine Meadows offers something a little further and a little deeper if you’re willing to work for it.

There are two distinct and amazing pieces of terrain at Alpine that require a little oompf to get to, but if you’re up for a hike, the rewards can be off the hook. Even days after a storm, you can find untracked lines. With the upcoming snowfall, they are both sure to offer up some awesome shred potential for days.

When it snows, there’s pow for days at Alpine Meadows. Image: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA

Located off the Pacific Crest Trail, which basically runs, during the summer, straight across the main ridgeline at Alpine Meadows, are two areas. The first area, the Pacific Crest North Bowls, begins right off the Summit Chair. If you head right as you get off the chair, you’ll hit a series of bowls, starting with Wolverine Bowl and moving out to Beaver and then Estelle Bowl. There are some side-stepping and boot packing but don’t worry, the further along the ridge you go, the fewer tracks and more terrain you’ll see. It’s a big chunk of terrain here, and the options for playful skiing are endless. Bowl skiing, lots of stuff to boost off, and fun bits of micro terrain dot these big bowls right down into the trees. Every lap makes its way back to the chair.

If you’re willing to work for it, the goods stay good for days. Image: Alan Ashbaugh

The second zone is on the backside of Alpine off the Sherwood Express Chair. The Pacific Crest South Bowls offer up a little slice of Alaskan big mountain skiing, and the options are plentiful for those willing to work a little harder. The skiing is all off the High Traverse, which moves across the ridgeline to some big mountain lines that often stay hidden and preserved well after the storms have come and gone. There’s a surprising amount of variation here, with lots of different types of terrain and enough of a big mountain feel to really get your ski on.

Alpine Meadows has always been a little bit in the shadow of its big brother in the next valley over. There’s no fanfare and big show here. Alpine has always been about skiing. It’s smaller than Squaw, but in some ways is the favorite for lots of the locals around here. Maybe it’s ’cause the crowds are smaller, and you have to work a little harder to get to some of the goods. Or maybe it’s the vibe. Alpine Meadows has always been more about doing than showing. Skiers and riders and freeheelers here are about getting out there and shredding and are a little less concerned with the ‘show’ than some other resorts. It’s relaxed and soulful and has that hardcore skier vibe that keeps the crowds away and the locals at bay.

So get out there. It’s about to dump here, 100″ in the next week or so, and when the weather settles, and the sun breaks, the PCT Bowls will start calling. So grab your gear and go hike for some pow. It will definitely be worth it.

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One thought on “How To Hike and Find Powder Days After a Storm at Alpine Meadows, CA

  1. Awesome!
    We just drove up from Selma, had to get to the cabin before the monster hit & we’d be stuck in traffic. Heading over to Alpine now. I want to scout the PCT bowls because if it’s anything like Alaska, I want to get some video for my social pages. I’ve got my gear bag all laced up. 2 Red Bulls, 2 GoPros, selfie stick, beats wireless headphones so I can pump that bass, ya feel me?
    I appreciate your tips, this is going to be a great trip and I can’t wait to ski the out of bounds that alpine has to offer. Shred hard my friends.

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