Sweet lady Mary Jane | SkyHiNews.com

Sweet lady Mary Jane

The Super Gauge Express takes visitors to the top of the Mary Jane area from the base and provides access the some of the best tree skiing in the state.
Lance Maggart / Sky-Hi News |

If you spend very long skiing or snowboarding in Grand County you’ll come to know our local affinity for sweet lady Mary Jane.

One of seven separate territories at Winter Park Resort the Mary Jane territory holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike, for numerous reasons. The terrain in “The Jane”, as it is often referred to, is known for top notch tree skiing and an abundance of moguls, both on the cleared runs and in the forests of lodgepole pine that populate the mountainside. Wander around the Jane’s parking lots for a while and you’ll no doubt notice a number of stickers saying, “No Pain No Jane”, a reference to the breadth and intensity of the bumps within the territory.

Mary Jane is a favorite of many of our local hardcore skiers. Because The Jane is filled with trees and bumps anyone who knows their way around Mary Jane can usually find nice powder stashes, even well after the open runs have been tracked out.

Another reason The Jane holds a special place in the heart of so many is the easy parking access. Mary Jane has four main parking lots, all of which currently offer free parking. The parking lots at The Jane offer ski-in ski-out access; so stopping off at your car for a quick lunch doesn’t require an hour commute to and from the lift lines.

Mary Jane also offers a unique mix of intense expert terrain in close proximity to some fairly gentle blue runs, like Blue Bell and Edelweiss, and from the top of the Super Gauge Express, or from the Challenger Lift, you can easily access Mary Jane’s famed chutes: Hole in the Wall, Awe Chute, Baldy’s Chute and Jeff’s Chute.

One experience not to be missed in The Jane is the Mary Jane Trail. You can reach Mary Jane Trail by taking the Super Gauge Express to the top of The Jane territory. Head lookers right from the top of the lift down the green run Whistle Stop. After a brief jaunt down Whistle Stop take a right turn onto the Mary Jane Trail.

The top of Mary Jane Trail, as reached from Whistle Stop, is a blue-black intermediate/advanced run with a steep slope for the first few hundred yards. The pitch eases gently as the trail meanders down to the Mary Jane base in a broad wide open run lined on both sides with towering pine thickets and small groves dotting its interior. The trail leads directly to the Mary Jane base and provides quick access to the territory’s lifts, so you can get back on the trails as quick as possible.

According to information from Winter Park Resort the Mary Jane Trail was the first man-made ski trail in the western US and was cleared by the Colorado Arlberg Club in the 1930s. Mary Jane was officially opened as a section of the larger Winter Park Resort in 1975 and while many associate its name with the marijuana infused culture of the 1970s the moniker derives from an older time.

In the late 1800s the area around Mary Jane and Winter Park Resort was filled with various mining hamlets, logging encampments and small settlements holding rail workers and other hardy souls looking to make a living along the banks of the Fraser River. Mary Jane lived in a small village called Arrow in the area where she worked as a lady of the night.

The legend of Mary Jane, as told by Winter Park Resort, says that over time Mary Jane acquired ownership of the land where the Mary Jane Trail now runs, trading local miners and railroad workers land for her services. The plot of land that serves as the Mary Jane territory base was called the Mary Jane Placer. Mary Jane Trail itself was once an old sheepherders trail.

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