Sugarbowl Lifts & Terrain

Sugarbowl Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Sugarbowl Trail Map
  • Vertical (m/ft)
    2,098 (6,883ft) – 2,555 (8,383)
  • Average Snow Fall
  • 12.7  metres (500")
  • Lifts (12)
    5 express quads
    3 fixed grip quads
  • Ski Season
    mid Nov - May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 100
    Size – 1,650 acres
    Beginner - 17%
    Intermediate - 45%
    Advanced - 38%

Ski Sugar Bowl Resort

The Sugar Bowl Resort is made up of sugar and spice and all things nice. Ski Sugar Bowl on the 100+ trails that range from sugar (easy) to super spice (ridiculously hard), but they’re all nice!

The maximum vertical drop of the Sugar Bowl Resort is 1,500 feet (off Mt Lincoln), whilst off Mt Disney it’s only 1,070 feet and even less in the Judah area. So the 1,500 acres of terrain is spread out horizontally and the Sugar Bowl Resort has four distinct peaks. The Mt Judah area has dedicated lifts for beginners, and is characterised as mostly blue terrain and terrain park features. The Mt Lincoln area is mostly blues, black and double blacks. The Disney area is mostly black with a smattering of blue trails, whilst the Crow area consists of lovely tree skiing.


Sugar Bowl Resort has 13 lifts including 5 high-speed quad chairs that cover most of the terrain, with the exception of Crow, which is serviced by a slow triple. They don’t bother to run a few of the other lifts unless it’s really busy, and the definition of “busy” at Sugar Bowl is quite different to some of the high profile destination resorts in Lake Tahoe.

The Village Gondola and Village Tow are just used for access to the village from the parking lot and some of the vacation rentals.

Lift Tickets

You can ski Sugar Bowl for a little less than some of the big boys of Lake Tahoe, but the lift passes are still pretty expensive. If you’ll be in the Tahoe area for a while, Sugar Bowl season passes are reasonably priced (particularly those with some restrictions) and they include 2-4 lift tickets for Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.

Sugar Bowl Snow

Sugar Bowl receives a massive average of 500 inches (12.7 metres) of snow per season, which is the most of the Tahoe ski resorts with the exception of Kirkwood. Ullr’s blessings are also topped up with man-made snow that can cover 25% of the terrain.

The quality of snow is somewhat similar to most of the other neighbouring resorts. Powder days can be awesome (albeit a little heavy), but it doesn’t take long for the snow to turn to Sierra Cement. Sugar Bowl Resort doesn’t have elevation on its side, and the top elevation is approximately 560 feet lower than the average for the major Tahoe resorts.

As to be expected, the snow quality varies with slope orientation. The Judah area is west facing so the snow cover can get a little crappy and patchy in marginal seasons. Snow quality is generally good in Disney and Crow that are mostly north facing. The Mt Lincoln runs are mostly northwest facing, and considering that some of the slopes are incredibly steep, the snow doesn’t see much of the sun.

Ski Sugar Bowl - for the Beginner

Officially, beginners have 17% of the trails, which is more than enough for snow ploughers. There is a dedicated novice area that is conveniently located between the day parking lot and Judah Lodge. It’s very sunny and the kids can learn in peace. Another learners’ area (Nob Hill) is located above the Village Lodge, although this one tends to get a little traffic from faster skiers. The small Meadow Chair also offers beginners terrain, but the chair isn’t always running, and a few progression runs are available off two of the express chairs.

Sugar Bowl Skiing for the Intermediate

Intermediates have 45% of the trails, yet it doesn’t feel like that much, and upper end intermediates who are used to big ski resorts might get a fraction bored. As a generalisation the blue runs to lookers’ left are mellower whilst those to the lookers’ right get steeper, and are plenty of fun for some speedy turns. A popular intermediate run is Lake View, which is aptly named because it overlooks Donner Lake.

Terrain Parks & Pipes

The terrain parks at Sugar Bowl pretty much have their own dedicated express quad chair, so you can put in plenty of laps. The Switching Yard has different lines for various abilities so it is good for progression, although there aren’t quite the holy-crap sized features that you might find down the road at Northstar.

The parks are in a sunny spot so the area needs a lot of snow to get going.

Advanced Skiing

Sugarbowl Sugar Bowl Resort has plenty on offer for the full gamut of advanced riders. Disney Express provides some great single black lines that include plenty of open terrain and smatterings of trees. Other easy-ish black terrain is the glades off Jerome Hill and a few lines to skiers’ right (stay wide) off Mt Lincoln, some which are typically bumps runs. Take care in this area if there’s not a lot of cover, as single blacks can quickly become double diamonds.

Crow’s Nest offers some delightful tree skiing and the snow quality is often pretty good. An easy way to get in is to take an arc to skiers right and then traverse back left.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Sugar Bowl is full of sweet things for experts, and if there’s plenty of snow cover it’s a small treasure trove for experts, and like Disneyland for pros. For your average expert, the Crow’s Nest tree skiing is rather interesting with some pitchy parts and variable tree spacing.

Mt Lincoln has some amazing terrain. Straight under the lifts is really interesting with little cliffs, gullies, trees and plenty of rock features. Some of the double blacks are not skiable unless there’s plenty of cover, and the renowned Palisades require lots of snow unless you’re on a suicide mission. In a similar vein, some of the hike-to terrain on Mt Judah needs snow++ and due to the aspect it doesn’t retain the snow well.

Backcountry & Sidecountry

The Sugar Bowl sidecountry and backcountry is well regarded, and the Backcountry Adventure Center offers various tours and programs with AMGA and IFMGA-certified guides.