The Back Way Out of Winter Park

I figured out a (not very) secret way out of Winter Park Resort. Turns out you can ski all the way from the back of the resort to a quarter mile from our house. I was pretty stoked to find out our house was actually at least ski-in/bus-out. But let me walk you through how it works.

It all started when I was looking at the bottom corner of the Winter Park trail map and saw what looked like a road running away from the resort:

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A bit of an internet research montage later I had found out that Little Vasquez Rd is an unmaintained National Forest Service road that follows Little Vasquez Creek all the way from our house to the resort:

So I knew it was a thing and I knew where it dumped out in town, I just needed to figure out how to get to it from the resort. A bit of investigation around the bottom of the Pioneer Lift and I found the magic sign:

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Just to be sure that I wasn’t going to get totally lost and stuck needing to hike miles in snowboard boots, Cheat and I went on a scouting expedition. We started at home and worked our way all the way up the trail to the resort (that way, the worst case scenario would be to just turn around and go home). It was a really nice trail and Cheat had a ball. The most interesting part was the giant pipeline that is used to pump water from the western side of the continental divide to the eastern side.

With proof that I wouldn’t get too lost, a couple weeks later Allison had to work on a day I had off, so I drove to the resort with her, did a couple runs and then headed home on my new path:

The trail went down hill for the most part but not very steeply. I ended up needing to pop my foot out of my snowboard for most of the trip to skate a bit and I had to take the board off completely and walk slightly uphill for about 50 yards near the pipeline, but other than that it was gentle coasting the whole way. I got to the end of the trail, picked up the board and started walking the rest of the way home.

And, because I’m super lucky, the bus happened to pull up right when I started walking, picked me up, and dropped me off right at our door. What a great run!

I know there are a couple other trails like this where you can go out of bounds to ski home at other resorts but I’d never gotten to do one myself. Fortunately this one was really easy and low consequences so I wasn’t at all worried about avalanches or anything like that. That said though, I guess it’s time to get my backcountry setup and some training so I can be safe when I find some of the other harder trails.

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