Breckenridge Skiing Terrain

Breckenridge Skiing Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

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

  • Vertical (ft)
    9,600 – 12,998 (3,398)
  • Average Snow Fall
    353 inches
  • Lifts (34)
    5 fast 6-packs
    6 fast quads
  • Ski Season
    early Nov - mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 187
    Longest run –3.5mi
  • Beginner - 14%
    Intermediate - 31%
    Advanced - 19%
    Expert - 36%

Breckenridge Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Breckenridge Resort is large by North American standards with 2,358 acres (954 hectares) of skiable terrain. Breck cheekily claims the vertical drop to be 3,398 feet (1,036 metres) but this includes hike-to-terrain. Ski Breckenridge and the lift accessed vertical drop is about 3,182 feet metres, the continuous vertical is much less than this, and the last 200 feet or so are just mellow green home trails that drop into town.

Breckenridge skiing terrain can be divided into sections according to the five peaks, although the majority of the terrain isn’t really on the “peaks”.

Peak 6 is the newest zone and it has relatively uncrowded intermediate trails and some expert runs, most of which are hike-to runs.

Peak 7 mainly consists of blue groomed trails that are below the timberline, whilst the alpine area is hike-to-terrain for experts. The lift queues that develop at the Peak 7 base can be horrendous because there’s only one lift. The crowds are exacerbated in the mornings because the BreckConnect Gondola dumps hundreds of day trippers into the base area.

Peak 8 is the original part of the Breckenridge Resort and it has a bit of terrain for everyone. Below the treeline are terrain parks and green, blue and black trails that feed into the Peak 8 base. Even though there are a handful of chairs that ascend from the base, this area also gets incredibly crowded. The BreakConnect Gondola terminates at the base area, which also contributes to the crowding in the mornings. The upper reaches of Peak 8 are the ducks nuts of Breck where the alpine provides lots of challenges for expert riders.

Peak 9 is the mellowest of the mountains with mainly blue and green groomed trails, a few of which drop into the town of Breckenridge. The upper part of Peak 9 also has some steep mogul runs and hike-to-terrain.

The Peak 10 terrain is below the treeline and is the least trafficked of the mountains. The terrain consists solely of black and double black trails and gladed runs.

Breckenridge Lifts

Of the 34 lifts, only 9 are high speed chair lifts (super lifts) which service the majority of the terrain, and these lifts often can’t move the crowds well enough. Breckenridge Resort has an app to indicate lift wait times, although it seems to underestimate the real delays. The rest of the lift fleet consists of slow chairs, 4 surface lifts and 11 magic carpets.

It’s almost a shame that there are 2 super lifts that go into the high alpine, because considering the oft windy conditions, these are zones that might be better served with surface lifts. The Imperial SuperChair in particular often needs to go on wind-hold. The lift layout is just OK. As to be expected for a ski resort with such breadth, it can be rather time consuming to navigate laterally across the ski resort between the peaks. Good signage and hints on the trail map facilitate the transit between areas. Thankfully many of the lifts have a trail map on the safety bar, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to carry a trail map too!

Lift Tickets

If you buy a single day lift pass at the window, the prices are a killer and amongst the most expensive in the country. Breckenridge is owned and operated by Vail Resorts, so it’s covered on the Epic Pass. An Epic Pass makes it much more affordable if you plan to spend multiple days skiing or boarding and it’s also valid at nearby ski resorts such as Vail, Beaver Creek, and Keystone.

A limited day Epic Pass makes financial sense, whilst an early purchase of a season pass only costs about the equivalent of 7 single day tickets. It’s great that the season passes are so affordable, but it’s easy to see why this ski resort gets completely swamped with crowds.

Breckenridge Snow Conditions

Breckenridge Resort receives an average of 353 inches of snow per season, and the snow statistic has magically increased a lot from 300 inches back in 2012. Maybe the dramatic increase is due to cloud seeing initiatives, a technique that can increase the amount of precipitation from each storm by about 10 percent.

Breck also has lots of snowmaking that covers almost a quarter of the ski resort.

The Breckenridge snow quality is enhanced by the elevation of the ski resort. The town is one of the highest in Colorado at 9,602 feet (2,972 metres) and Breckenridge has the highest lift accessed terrain in North America at 12,800 feet (3,900 metres). Whilst this keeps the snow delightfully cold, the altitude can also be a curse for the snow. Breckenridge commonly has windy conditions which can wreak havoc with the snow up in the alpine areas and put lifts on wind-hold.

Ski Breckenridge - Beginners

Breckenridge is one of the best ski resorts in Colorado in terms of beginner terrain, although one downside is that the green runs are often very congested.

Fourteen percent of the trails are dedicated to beginners, which are located on Peak 8 and 9. The trails are wide and very gentle, and they are largely exclusive areas, so beginners can learn in peace with their own kind. The exception to this is at the end of the day on Peak 9 when faster skiers return to town.

Ski school has lots of magic carpets right near the lodging hubs, and then novices can progress onto other easy surface lifts or high speed chairs. For confident beginners, lots of the blue trails could easily be tackled.

Another pro is that there are a lot of ski-in ski-out accommodations at Peak 8 and 9 that are accessible via green trails, so beginners can stay close to home.

Intermediate Skiing Breckenridge

At Breckenridge, 31% of the trails are designated for intermediates, but these wide mellow blue runs are primarily geared towards lower-end intermediates.

Peak 7 is dedicated to rolling blue groomers so this is a great place to play on weekdays, but the lift lines at the base on weekends may frustrate the crap out of you. Peak 6 is probably the best place for cruising without the hordes.

The run ratings at Breckenridge are much easier than many other ski resorts, so intermediates will be able to manage some of the black runs. The tricky bit is figuring out which runs are OK. Unfortunately in the past, Breckenridge Resort re-categorised many of the blue-black trails into black trails, thereby minimising the ability to delineate between the ratings, but if intermediates stick to the groomed black runs, all should be fine.

Terrain Parks & Pipe

Breckenridge has one of the best terrain park set ups in North America, with multiple parks and pipes to cater for different ability levels, although the offerings have diminished a little in recent years.

The Freeway Terrain Park & Pipe is the mega terrain park located near the base of Peak 8. It has one of the best pipes, possibly because Breck was the first in the USA to build one, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect it. Other features are also mega sized and designed for experts. The local talent is pretty impressive and if you’re not a pro, you may feel a little intimidated.

The adjacent area on Peak 8 also has two other terrain parks with medium and small sized features, whilst Peak 9 has a small terrain park for up and coming champions.

Advanced Skiing Breckenridge

The advanced terrain at Breckenridge Resort is pretty impressive. There are a huge range of options to choose from.

Advanced riders can go flying on the groomed black runs (that are really blue runs) and dodge the moving obstacles, or there are lots of ungroomed black piste that quickly turn into moguls. Many of the double black diamond runs that are below the treeline are really just single black mogul runs (e.g. double blacks on Peak 10, Mach 1 and Southern Cross on Peak 8). Of course if the moguls get slick and nipple high, then they become for experts only!

The trees are a good place for advanced riders to play, although at Breckenridge there are lots of cut piste so there are very few wide and secluded gladed areas. An exception is the large Ore Bucket area on Peak 7, however the trees are very widely spaced and it becomes tracked out pretty quickly. Another exception is The Burn area on Peak 10. This area is popular but because the trees are a bit tighter the powder lasts a fraction longer. Fun but small tree zones can be found off Frosty’s Freeway and on Peak 10, although the long trail out on the latter may drive snowboarders bananas.

The alpine and sub-alpine areas also provide plenty of merriment. Skiers’ right of the 6-Chair can be easily attempted by advanced riders, and skiers’ left of the T-bar is also aptly rated as single black. In good visibility, the Horseshoe Bowl and Contest Bowl are also OK for advanced riders, so long as they avoid some of the features. These bowls are snow collectors, so they’re great for some deep turns on a powder day!

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Breckenridge offers some OK expert terrain. Whilst the stats indicate that 36% of the terrain is for experts (double black), Breck has embellished the ratings of some of the trails. As described above, many of the double black trails below the timberline are really single blacks. Exceptions would be some of the runs off the E-Chair that are pretty steep and often have BIG moguls. Also, some of the tight trees in this area are for experts only.

Most of the entertainment for experts is up in the alpine, a joy that some Colorado ski resorts don’t offer. The steep pitches don’t have huge vertical, and a major limitation is that when it’s windy most of these zones are closed, or there’s inadequate snow cover because the wind has blown it away. Another potential limitation for lazy powder hounds is that most of the good stuff is hike-to terrain at phenomenally giddy heights.