Spanning Mount Pluto (El. 8,610 feet) and nearby sub-summit Lookout Mountain, Northstar-at-Tahoe is a true family resort. Most of the runs are groomed, there are terrain and terrain parks to keep everyone happy, and the readers of Ski magazine even voted it the best family resort in California. The resort, opened in 1972, is well organized, the facilities, including on-site accommodations, cover every need, and the website is thorough, anticipating and answering all questions you might have. The result is a hassle-free vacation. Even the Village at Northstar is compact enough that finding your way around is no trouble. Owned by Boothcreek Ski Holdings, Northstar is in good company with Sierra-at-Tahoe, Bear Mountain Resort in southern California, The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington, and Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain, and Cranmore resorts in New Hampshire. Because Northstar grooms so many of their advanced runs, it’s a great place for intermediates looking to ride steeper terrain. If you’re confident on intermediate trails and want to work steeper terrain but aren’t certain about bumps or powder, Northstar is a great place to go. The trails on the backside are long enough to practice advanced skills and develop the muscles you’ll need for expert terrain. During the 2000–2001 season, Northstar opened its best expert terrain on Lookout Mountain. Served by the Lookout Mountain Express Quad, the five runs, reminiscent of the double diamonds at Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, have a 1,200-foot vertical drop and are some of the steepest in Tahoe. The downside of Lookout and the resort in general is the amount of terrain that’s just plain flat. It’s a frustrating contradiction, because when the terrain is good, it’s very good, and when it’s bad it’s, well, flat. This eTrail contains a thorough description of the resort including driving directions, mountain statistics, trail profiles, extensive lodging & dining information, travel tips, and much more.
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