Skiing used to be a simple affair that consisted of sliding down a snowy slope, but now there are new twists on that experience.
There are adventure trails, terrain parks and other things that add variety to the traditional ski slopes.
Young skiers and snowboarders can check out Sun Valley Resorts adventure trails on Bald Mountain.
Two new trails, Pine Martin Plunge and Deer Hollow, were added this year to bring Sun Valleys total to eight adventure trails.
Designed for kids and their parents, adventure trails offer a gentle introduction to skiing or snowboarding through varied terrain on short trails 75 to 400 feet in length.
They include little bumps, banked curves and sharp turns on fairly narrow trails in the woods. The intent is to make the terrain more interesting and build skills for youngsters and novices.
The idea is to go into them to enjoy them, to go through slowly and have a different experience than a wide-open ski run, said Jack Sibbach, director of marketing and public relations at Sun Valley Resort. The kids come through laughing and smiling, they love the feeling of banked turns.
He suggested kids 6 years old and older try the trails.
On Bald Mountain at Sun Valley Resort, the trail names are based on the plants and animals that live on the mountain, and The Flume trail is based on the Wood River Valleys mining history. The adventure trails are marked with wooden posts topped with carved wooden animals, and also designated on maps with an A.
For a description of the adventure trails and their location, go to the map of Bald Mountain posted on Sun Valleys website at sunvalley.com and click on the A icons on the map.
Each trail is rated green, blue and black, following the same rating system used for the slopes, but these are kid-friendly ratings.
Other ski areas have similar trails. Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming has the Alley Oop Alley and the Candy Cane Forest in their learning area with natural terrain features for beginners.
Both Schweitzer Mountain Resort in north Idaho and Brundage Mountain Resort near McCall offer an Enchanted Forest.
Schweitzers marketing coordinator Sean Briggs describes their Enchanted Forest as a small area with bumps and moguls in a strip of trees.
It gives kids the first glimpse of tree skiing, Briggs said.
Seth Jacobsen, snowsports director at Brundage Mountain Resort, said the whole point of exploring different kinds of terrain is having more fun on the mountain.
Brundages Enchanted Forest is located in a section of old-growth trees near Easy Street, which is the beginner slope.
He said forested trails are a good way to add adventure and enhance skiing and riding skills.
If kids are ready for another challenge, they can also try terrain parks.
Most ski resorts have parks designed for kids and novices, as well as progression parks that help them work their way up to bigger jumps, rails, table tops and other features.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is improving its terrain park this year. The Mountain Dew Terrain Park will be on the front side of the mountain with access by the Showcase Chairlift. Bogus Basin also added rails among trees called stashes located near main runs.
Exploring adventure trails or terrain parks should be done safely, Brundages Jacobsen said. As you approach any new terrain, think of it as blending three parts safety, fun and skill building.
Make sure your child has adequate skills to ski that feature or trail safely and dont push your child too much, he said.
Ensure that your child can stay in control at all times, especially in the trees or around jumps and other terrain park features. A parent should either lead or follow the child through them at least the first time.
Always go through one time real slowly, that way you are not speeding through features you are not familiar with, Jacobsen said.
Regardless of age or experience, the emphasis should always be on having a good time.
Have fun and enjoy the adventure. Adults can enjoy it as much as the kids, Jacobsen said.
Natalie Bartley authored the Boises Best Outdoor Adventures mobile app, available through iTunes, and two trail guidebooks. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.