What Ski and Snowboard Trail Names Actually Mean

Most skiers and snowboarders never actually think about the names of the trails they’re riding because they know what they’re getting into based on the map and the difficulty of the trail. For beginner riders and skiers though, the meaning of words like chute, glade, and bowl are left up to their imagination alone.

When it comes to a mountain as big as Mammoth, knowing where you’re going and what you can expect makes a big difference. To help new riders, and curious experienced riders, the team at ASO Mammoth has put together a quick guide to the names of trails and what they actually mean. Check it out below so you can plan your day out based on your interests and skills!


 If you’re a beginner then you’ll want to avoid anything named chute, as a chute is a steep and narrow run typically surrounded by rocks or other natural features.

At Mammoth you’ll find chutes all over the upper part of the mountain like Dropout Chutes and Wipeout Chutes, but you can also find chutes tucked away in the woods or when riding away from the groomed trails. While chutes are definitely for experts only, don’t think that the entire run is a steep and narrow trail if chute is in the name. Many runs with chute in the name have one part that is a chute and the rest is a steep but regular run, so if you’re pushing your skill don’t be intimidated based on the name alone.


 While having the word glade in a trail name doesn’t guarantee how steep the terrain will be or how much skill you need to ride it, it does tell you that you can expect trees somewhere on the run.

A glade doesn’t have to be steep so they’re not exclusive only to experts like some of the other terrain on this list, but you should at least have intermediate riding skills so you can avoid injury from collisions. At Mammoth there are three glades, Sunshine Glades, Outpost Glades, and Glades. Don’t expect these runs to have the best trees on the mountain just because they have glades in their name, but if you’re looking for tree runs then these trails are a great place to start.


A bowl is a wide run that is typically clear of terrain like trees and rocks. Thanks to their open terrain and usually steep inclines, bowls are a great place to make the kind of turns you dream about all off-season long.

Bowls are typically meant for expert riders due to the fact that they have steep inclines, but at Mammoth Mountain Rigley’s Bowl is a blue and there are several others that are designated as somewhere between a blue and a black, so if your skill matches that then these bowls are great options to push your riding.


Even experienced skiers and snowboarders may have not heard of a couloir because they are typically only in the backcountry. Couloirs are like a chute since they are narrow and steep runs with some kind of terrain, typically rocks, on both sides, but they are even more difficult to ride due to the terrain being more extreme. One of the best known couloirs within in resort boundaries is Corbet’s in Jackson Hole. If you watched the video, then you know that couloirs are no joke.

There are no couloirs within Mammoth’s resort boundaries, so if you want to ride one you’ll have to head to the backcountry. You will need to be an expert rider or skier before you do though, so approach couloirs with caution.

For more Mammoth Mountain information, stop by ASO Mammoth before you hit the slope!

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