China Peak Resort
China Peak is a ski area that remains one of central California’s best-kept secrets. Located about an hour’s drive northeast of Fresno, this ski area has some big resort chops cloaked in local atmosphere and flavor. The resort is located on Chinese Peak, which has a peak elevation of 8709 feet. Base facilities are located at 7030 feet, giving the area a total vertical of 1679 feet. There are 49 named trails spread out over 1200 acres, with an 11-lift system ferrying skiers over the mountain. The ski area also has three terrain parks for those who love rails, moguls, and jumps. On average, China Peak gets 300 inches of snow per year, and because of the resort’s elevation, it’s mainly good powder.
Let’s start with the terrain parks. There are three separate terrain parks for freestylers. Ullmann’s Alley is located just off the Park Lift (#4) and is a progression park that helps newbies and novices get their boards and skis wet. Once you’ve gotten the features of the Alley down, head on over to Tollhouse Park, with rails, boxes, and some awesome lines and spines, perfect for intermediate and advanced riders. For families who want to try something gnarlier than a cruiser or glade, the Canyonlands has some fun rollers and jumps.
There are 49 other named trails at China Peak. The official difficulty spread comes in at 11 percent novice, 28 percent intermediate, 33 percent advanced, and 28 percent expert. If you know your way around a ski or board, you’re going to find some incredible skiing here. The entire backside of the ski area is one big double black diamond bowl, perfect for finding that pristine line and just going with it. If you’re in the mood to just cruise around the mountain, Take the Summit lift (#1) and hit Academy. This trail is a novice rated cruiser that ambles nearly two and a half miles around. It also provides a jump off point for several intermediate and expert runs.
Snow can get deep on China Peak, and sometimes that means that only the main runs are going to be groomed. This can lead to some crowding, but if you’re adventurous and willing to head into ungroomed terrain, you’re going to find some great runs.
China Peak is a great resort that offers some prime skiing that rivals the bigger mid-Sierra and Tahoe resorts at a fraction of the price. Word is starting to spread, so it is starting to get a little busier. Still, there are never any huge crowds and lift wait times are never long. Novice skiers will have a great time learning the lines of Academy, and because it’s a mandatory slow zone, they won’t have to worry about speedsters breaking their concentration. For intermediate and advanced skiers, the three bowls and the wide-open Face make for some intense steeps. One awesome thing about China Peak is the RV parking. There are 17 spots available with electrical hookups. They don’t have a sanitation dump, however, so be prepared.