UNOFFICIAL GUIDE: Snow Valley, Running Springs, CA

Pat AKA mustski

Making fresh tracks
Nov 15, 2015
Big Bear, California
By @Pat AKA mustski

Snow Valley is first and foremost a great place for teaching children to ski. I taught my son and all his friends to ski here. The lack of crowds, wide runs, progression lay out, and it's small enough size allows those elementary age kids some independence without worrying about them getting lost. Snow Valley is probably the most family friends ski resort I have ever been to. First of all the giant parking lot means you don't need to lug all the little one's skis, poles, etc. on and off a shuttle. Second of all, the mountain includes a progression area perfect for that segue from "bunny run" to the "top." Third, the view deck allows grandma, grandpa, and anyone else who wants to watch a great view of the bunny run and the progression area, so they can share in the adventure. The staff is super friendly and helpful and the kids (including those teens of yours!) are treated really well by everyone there.

The photos below are courtesy of Snow Valley Ski Resort. These were taken on fantastic snow days but the photos are a fair representation of SV after a big snowfall. SV receives the most natural snowfall in SoCal. Unfortunately, it's sun exposure also means it loses snow pack quickly. When Slide Peak opens, don't delay because it is usually a pretty short run before Old Man Sol decimates the snow pack. Snow Valley is absolutely the best local mountain for families with children of varying abilities. It is very well organized and easy to maneuver. The lack of crowds makes for small lift lines and plenty of room to teach the little guys ski etiquette. Although the front side of the mountain is short on skiable acreage, it's never crowded. The front side is divided into four main areas:

SNOW PLAY (chair 12)

snow play.jpeg

When mother nature is feeling uncooperative, SV blows snow to create a snow play run. The sleds are provided and a chair lift will carry you to the top of the run as often as you wish. This is a great option for families with kids too little to start in ski class. They can join in the fun with one parent
while their siblings ski with the other parent. Nobody gets left behind in the lodge to just watch... unless grandma and grandpa come along for the entertainment value. They can relax on the huge viewing deck, soak up the rays, and enjoy watching their grand kids learn to ski.


The progression area is perfect for the little ones who have mastered the bunny run. There are 2 green runs, a few beginning terrain features (rollers & rails) and one "steep" blue run appropriately called "Graduation!" I love this feature of the resort because it was a perfect confidence builder for my son as he learned to ski. The rollers gave him bragging rights for taking jumps and "catching air." He was in a safe place and not causing a hazard on the main runs while he perfected linked turns. It was excellent for teaching ski and lift etiquette, and I could let him "go by himself with his friends" while I watched from the view deck and enjoyed an apres ski beverage with my hubby.

eagle flats.jpeg

THE EDGE TERRAIN PARK (chairs 1 & 3)

Located on the frontside of the mountain, The Edge is one long blue run that is filled with a variety of park features. It is wide enough to ski around the features, but it is advisable to keep your eyes open and check below before traversing the run. There are some really good park skiers and boarders on the Edge and the pace is pretty quick. For a quick look, ride chair 3 up from the midway point. It provides a fantastic view of the action in the park.

the edge.jpeg

THE MAIN FRONTSIDE RUNS (chairs, 1, 2, 3)

The frontside is really one big run with some smaller off shoots to give a little bit of variety. This is an easy mountain so ,even compared with Summit and Bear, the runs are easier than marked. Upper and Lower Winerock should be marked as green runs, most of Mambo should also be marked green with the possible exception of the last drop which would be a blue. Bubble Gum is definitely a cross between a cat track and an easy rolling green run. Little Bowl is marked as a black run and it is much the same as East Bowl which is properly designated as a blue run. Big Bowl is really just the same as Little Bowl but longer. The Ladder is marked a double black because it remains ungroomed and is usually chopped up, hardened crud. The runs off of Race Peak are all marked black but are short and easy enough to be considered blue runs.

The Edge,Winerock, and Mambo are the most congested runs on the mountain.

The Key to Having a Run to Yourself - Ride chair 2 to the top. Take Race Peak, Quickie, or Surprise Run to The Chute to Big or Little Bowl. You will likely not encounter more than one other skier on this route.

SV frontside.jpeg

THE BACKSIDE (chairs 8, 9, 10, & 11)

This really is the best part of SV! Unfortunately, inadequate snow making leaves it closed for most of the season. When it is open, it is absolutely worth the drive to ski this area ... especially on a powder day! To access the back side, ride chair 1 to the top. Hang a left and ski Snow Bowl or Richards over to chair 9. These are easy blue runs and also make for a fun alternative to Mambo! Take chair 9 which will take you up and over the ridge to Slide Peak. The face of Slide is all marked black or double black. The only difference is that the single black runs are groomed and the double blacks are not. Although these runs are the steepest at SV, they would be marked blue at Mammoth. They are really fun runs though. It is not pictured below but there is some nice glade skiing between West Slide and Snake
Run. You can return to the front side by riding Chair 9 back up and over the peak or you can take the cat track. Beware if you are on a snow board ... it is a long, flat cat track. It is also good to note that Chair 9 is uphill from the West Slide/Nord Valley runs so you will have to ski the face if you want to avoid the cat track. The beauty of Slide is the wide open face so there are plenty of different lines to ski and room for side by side skiing in a group. Can anyone say "race you to the bottom?" On the way back to the front side, chair 9 unloads at the midway point so explore some of the glade skiing around Bobcat Alley. On a powder day, there are some fun runs in those glades too.

slide peak.jpeg

I stand by this unofficial guide. I rarely ski Snow Valley, but it is always my first choice for introducing a beginner to the sport. I taught my son's GF there this winter and she is hooked!
Last edited:

Ken in LA

Pulling down the safety bar
Jul 15, 2018
Hi @Pat AKA mustski, Thank you for this review. The daughter of one of my work friends would like to learn to snowboard. She was planning to spend big bucks to send her up to Mammoth. I remembered your review of Snow Valley and suggested she save time and money this season and learn the basics closer to home. It was a great suggestion and they couldn’t have been more pleased! P.S. don’t get me wrong, I love Mammoth but it is a lot of mountain and a high ticket price for a never-ever newbie who will most likely only use the bunny slope.