Best Backcountry Ski Run — Best of Vail Valley 2019 | VailDaily.com
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Best Backcountry Ski Run — Best of Vail Valley 2019

1. Minturn mile

2. West Vail Trees

3. Stone creek chutes

There’s no shortage of ski runs in the Vail Valley, from lift-served trails on two world-class mountains to break-your-own-trail gaspers on the wide expanses of public lands. But for those who want to eschew the trail map—and have the necessary knowledge, experience and tools—backcountry skiing is a way to escape the crowds and enjoy the pleasure of untracked turns. One of the most iconic backcountry ski runs in the valley is almost antithetical to this ideal: It’s accessed from lift-served terrain and untracked lines are elusive rather than expected. However, there’s no more rite-of-passage-run than the Minturn Mile.

Exiting from a back gate on Vail Mountain and dropping into Minturn, the Minturn Mile has been a challenge and bucket list experience for skiers and snowboarders for decades. On a powder day, the start of the Mile provides a wide-open bowl for stellar turns before the trail turns into the trees and leads down the Game Creek drainage. The Beaver Ponds crossing can provide a bit of slogging or a chance to take a quick break with friends before hitting the luge portion and ending up in Minturn, where a margarita at the Minturn Saloon is the traditional celebration beverage.

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But just as every powder day is different, so is the Mile. No matter how many times you’ve tackled the Mile, every descent provides a different, exhilarating experience.

-Katie Coakley


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