Many trip reports start out with some variation of the phrase, "We were so lucky with the weather ... it snowed [amount] feet and the conditions were amazing."
The reality for my wife and I was that we timed our trip to Lost Trail Powder Mountain to get the deepest powder. Weather forecasting technology isn't perfect, but within a few days of a storm, it's usually good enough to put you in the right area at the right time.
The mountain is located ON the eastern border of Idaho and the western border of Montana. Not only did that allow us to ski deep powder in two states on the same morning, but this location was also a perfect spot that we could check out on our multi-week skiing road trip from Colorado north to Canada.
Lost Trail Powder Mountain opened in the year 1938. If you're like me and spent a lot of time skiing at small, older mountains, this place will feel like home.
The trail map is functional, not fancy, just like it should be.
We started out on the left side of the trail map and during the day worked our way north to the right side of the map.
In keeping with the theme of good skiing with low overhead, this board shows the lift status.
Heading up the first lift, and old-school double chair. The snow looked good.
The snow on the south side
The official snow report said that 14 inches fell the day before, with 8 additional inches at night. Usually, that snow report would mean that the previous day's 14 inches would be tracked, and we could expect about 8 inches of fresh upon our arrival. But when you're skiing at a small area 1+ hours from major towns, the snow tends to remain untracked for much longer.
Hence, we found 18-20 inches of fluff waiting for us on our first run.
Our first run was delightful. Forgive my child-like screams. Also, notice the lack of people on this, the main run next to the lodge. Yes, people love to ski powder here. But the powder-morning environment is much more relaxed than at major mountains.
This sign is so true.
In addition to "Powder 4 Days!!" due to light crowds, locals also talk about "Powder Thursday". That's because Lost Trail Powder Mountain is closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (except during busy holiday periods), so if you show up on a Thursday, the snow that fell on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will be untouched. Remember this for future powder chases.
After a few laps on the marked runs, we moved into the trees, where goodness awaited.
Here's Lauren, my wife, enjoying the deep, untouched fluff. If you thought the runs were empty, how about these trees! It was easy to find fresh lines.
Then Lauren spotted a fun slot through the trees and lovingly gave me first tracks. She's the best!
The snow on the north side
After 2ish hours exploring the south-side of the mountain, we moved over to the north side (right side on the trail map above).
Here is a picture of the north side, taken as we drove away later in the day. Let's check it out!
Some of this terrain is rather flat (not ideal on a deep powder day), but some of it is perfectly pitched.
And, there is even an area with rock features, which, when covered with LOTS of powder like we enjoyed, reminded me of skiing sections of CMH Galena. Super fun!
Looking up at the playground.
This was the deepest snow of the day. Sorry for the short video - I stopped quickly to reduce the amount of sloughing snow that would slide down to Lauren.
We explored and were constantly rewarded.
Here's me. This is the depth and quality of snow that I dream about. All I want to do is ski this over and over and over again;-)
Our local tour guide was Bob Ambrose, who writes our Montana Daily Snow. Bob is a tall guy, but today's snow depth won't allow you to see much of him.
One of the quirky things I love about skiing local mountains on a powder day is that you can often ski right back to the car.
Head past the lodge...
...and arrive at the car while staying clipped in.
Lift tickets are $42 for an adult, week day and week end (as of the 2016-2017 season). That's just as delightful as the powder!
If all of this doesn't convince you that Lost Trail Powder Mountain is a special place, then perhaps this adorable lift ticket will change your mind!
The only downside of the day was waiting a long time for our lunch. We visited during the week after Christmas, so there were a lot of people on the mountain and the kitchen was swamped. I've never run a food & beverage operation, but I imagine dealing with the lunchtime rush is tough, especially for a small mountain with limited staff.
Weather Forecast for Lost Trail: https://opensnow.com/location/losttrailpowdermountain
Their website: https://losttrail.com/
Full Disclosure – When I arrived at the mountain, I spoke with one of the owners to ask for a free lift ticket in exchange for a review. She made the trade, and we paid retail for my wife's ticket. I hope it's obvious from the videos that the snow and terrain were fantastic and that my free lift ticket did not cause me to inflate my review.
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In other words, one year of getting the best information about powder will cost you about the same as you’ll spend on one lunch at most resorts.
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Keep dreaming of future powder days!