Ski slope colors designate the relative difficulty of a trail based on the grade of the slope as well as the terrain on that trail.
These colors help skiers know which trails to use so that they can safely traverse the mountain regardless of their skill level.
Here’s how the colors (and shapes) break down…
|Slope Color||Slope Grade||Difficulty|
|Green Circle 🟢||0-25%||Beginner|
|Blue Square 🟦||25-40%||Intermediate|
|Red Circle 🔴 |
(not in North America)
|Black Diamond ◆||40% +||Expert|
|Double Diamond ◆◆||50% +||Expert|
Choosing the correct slope for your skill level as well as how intense you prefer to ski can mean the difference between an enjoyable day on the slopes or a night in the emergency room.
So let’s break these down a little further for you…
Green Slopes | Beginner
A green run in skiing is the easiest ski slope and is designated for beginners because it has a slope grade of 0-25% (0-14 degrees) and doesn’t have any difficult terrain.
These slopes are perfect for learning to ski.
In the United States, the easiest of the Green trails in any given location is often referred to as the “bunny slope” because that’s where you’ll find younger children learning to ski.
Blue Slopes | Intermediate
A blue trail in skiing is a trail that is designated for intermediate skiers because it has a slope grade of 25-40% (14-22 degrees) and may have some more difficult terrain such as moguls or ungroomed sections.
Once you get comfortable on your skis, the blue trails is where you’ll likely spend most of your time. Almost every ski resort has more blue trails than any other type.
The beauty of blue trails is that you can often choose how you want to ski. They are steep enough to ski fast but usually well-groomed so you can ski leisurely as well.
These are the slopes where you can learn new skills like small jumps or racing as well as have relaxing days with your friends.
Red Slopes | Advanced Intermediate
Red trails in skiing are steeper than blue intermediate trails but not as difficult as black diamond expert trails. They can be found everywhere except in North America (which goes right from blue to black).
Some mountains in North America use a black diamond inside a blue square to indicate this type of slope that sits between the two in difficulty.
Black Diamond Slopes | Expert
Black diamond trails are expert trails that have a grade of 40% or more (21+ degrees) and are designed for expert skiers who have excellent control of their skiing and can navigate very steep slopes.
In North America, you may see double or even triple black diamond trails which are ungroomed extreme slopes of 50% or more (26+ degrees) and often contain treacherous terrains such as rocks and cliffs. These trails should be avoided by all but the best skiers.
What Are the differences between green and blue slopes?
The main difference between green and blue slopes is that green trails have a slope grade of 6-25% and blue trails have a slope grade of 25-40%.
In addition, blue trails may have more difficult terrain including bumps (or moguls) as well as narrow portions that require more skill to navigate safely.
Green trails are designed to be easier for beginners to ski safely while blue trails are for intermediate skiers with more skill and often provide the opportunity for more speed and varied terrain.
Blue trails are often the most common type of trail found at many ski resorts.
How To Choose Your Trail
If you’re just learning how to ski, stay on the green trails. The gentle grade of the green trails will let you focus on learning to balance yourself on skis and how to transfer your weight from one side to the other in order to control the skis.
These are the trails where you’ll start skiing with the triangle or pizza shape to your skis in order to control your speed. When you can easily ski with your skis parallel to each other, turn using the edges of your skis, and do a hockey stop to stop quickly…then it’s time to move up to the blue trails.
Blue intermediate trails are where skiers are most of the time. At many resorts, the vast majority of trails are blue trails. These include smooth groomed trails with varying slope grades so that you can push your skills a little farther without encountering too much danger.
Blue trails is where you can learn to add more speed to your skiing and also experiment with some varying terrain. While most blue trails will be smooth groomers, some may have sections of moguls or tree skiing where you can try it out but not be stuck on an expert trail. Also, as you start skiing faster, be sure to wear a helmet.
Once you can navigate the steepest sections of a blue trail with ease and have no trouble going off-piste on moguls or powder, then you can consider trying a black diamond.
Warning: Black diamond trails are for expert skiers. If you aren’t sure if you can handle a diamond, then you probably need more practice on a steep blue trail. Trying a diamond too soon can be very dangerous.
Ok, now that we’ve got the disclaimer out of the way if you can handle them, diamonds can be some of the best trails on the mountain. This is where you are most likely to find some untouched powder, fewer crowds, and great terrain where you can really test your skills.
As far as double or triple diamonds go…you’re on your own here. I’ve skied them but trails this dangerous are often more work than enjoyment. If you’re a top-notch skier, then give it a try, but be careful, plan your turns ahead of time, and then head back to the single diamonds for some fun.
What ski resort has the most green trails?
Breckenridge, Colorado is well known for having a ton of green trail skiing with 11.2 mi (18km) of green runs as well as excellent snow cover and high-quality grooming.
They also have 30 mi (32 km) of blue runs so once you graduate past the green trails, you’ll never run out of trails to ski. That makes it an excellent place to take beginners or learn to ski yourself.