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Snowcat Tours: Beat The Crowds, Find The Freshies

Snowcats-Pacific A bluebird snowcat day on the Pacific Crest above Lake Tahoe. (Pacific Crest Snowcats/Facebook)

As lift lines get longer and trails more crowded, many a skier and rider looks longingly past the ropes into the untouched terrain beyond.

Nowadays, the number of resorts with snowcats heading into the backcountry for powderhounds is growing. Here's a look at some that caught our eye at SnoCountry.com.

Pacific Crest Snowcats operates on 3,000 acres near the Pacific Crest between Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl, all about 8,000 feet elevation. Trailheads change with conditions. Most day trippers get 12,000 feet in vert.

Finding freshies in the trees with a snowcat trip out of Anthony Lakes. (Anthonylakes.com)

The Anthony Lakes snowcats depart from the 7,100-foot base of the East Oregon resort into terrain adjacent to mountain. Trips top out at 9,000 feet, and most get 8-10 rides of 1,000-1,700 in vert. They sell out early but have cancellation list.

For some light Idaho pow', hop a 'cat out of Brundage Mountain. (Brundage Mountain/Facebook)

Brundage Mountain Snowcat Adventures have more than 17,000 acres to play in. Daily rides begin at the mountain, with 8-14 runs and 12,000-15,000 feet in vert. Guides match abilities to terrain.

Just 35 minutes from Park City are 40,000 acres of a personal powder paradise. (Park City Powder Cats/Facebook)

A dozen transport options take 35 minutes to get powderhounds to starting point for Park City Powder Cats.  Four 10,000-plus foot bowls on 43,000 acres await for laps all day on 800-2,000 vert per run. 'Cat rides are 5-10 minutes long.

Carving up some powder with friends is what Loveland's free 'cat tours are about. (Loveland Ski Area/Facebook)

Loveland Ridge Cat touts itself as the only free snowcat tours around. Just pick up a free pass at ticket window at the Colorado resort, ride to the Continental Divide at 12,700 feet on Lift 9 and get in line. 'Cats operate Wednesdays through Sundays, weather permitting.

Snowcattin' at Mt. Bohemia will get you into the untracked trees. (Mount Bohemia)

Mt. Bohemia has only snowcat tours in Midwest, with an 18-person ‘cat on nearby Voodoo Mountain on Wednesdays and Saturdays. All-day tours hit about 100 acres of trees with 700 vert – plus major views of Lake Superior. Plans call for 1,200 acres at build-out.

Get away from the crowds at Sugarloaf and lap some tree runs on Burnt Mountain (Sugarloaf/Facebook)

The East's only service, Sugarloaf snowcats runs every 20 minutes from below base of King Pine chair into 100 acres of Burnt Mountain’s glades. Skiers and riders can get 1,400 of vert – on weekends and vacation weeks only. Buy ticket for two runs at base, and reservations can be had online.

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