What’s the first ski area in North America to open each season? A-basin or Loveland. What’s the third or fourth? Wild Mountain, a small ski area about an hour north of the northern part of the Twin Cities metro. Getting there from the metro takes you through Taylors Falls, a small touristy town on the St. Croix River, which separates Minnesota from Wisconsin. Just watch the road as you head north of town; the pavement is subject to buckling, putting your shocks and struts, and perhaps rest of the car, at risk.
Midwestern areas with rare exception are places where opportunity and family friendliness are stronger than terrain and vista. Wild is no exception, though the drive along the St. Croix (not visible once you arrive on site) is a pleasant approach that no other ski area in the region can match.
Wild has four chairlifts. The terrain parks (no halfpipe) have their own rope tows.
A pair of tow ropes has served the beginner’s area, though I believe that a magic carpet has replaced at least one of the ropes. Hooray! I don’t care for tow ropes, and found them especially difficult to use while starting to ride.
Between the terrain park (at the southern edge of the area) and the beginner’s workshop are three black diamonds, which are on the steeper side but otherwise unremarkable. The whole southern third of Wild is virtually treeless.
The northern two-thirds are more attractive; to varying degrees the runs are cut out of the woods. “Sunshine” starts out with a drop and then pleasantly twists before running out to the bottom. Other slopes meander through the woods. “Moonshine” has some unexpected swells near the bottom; on icy days, you may wish to cut to the inside. “Broadway” is a fun open throttle run.
Five black diamonds are served by chair lifts 2, 3, and 4. Ego Alley, as the name suggests, runs underneath a lift. It’s wider than you might expect, though it starts out on the narrow side. North Wild and South Wild are a single slope separated by a mogul field. The signature “Experts Only” (double diamond) terrain is The Wall, a short but steep pitch. From top to bottom, it may be the steepest slope in the Twin Cities, though Birth Run or Chicken at Welch Village are in the same category.
In all, I’d say that you could take on the most worthwhile portions of Wild Mountain in 11 trips: Sunshine; Ego Alley; South Wild; North Wild; You Asked for It; Bear; Broadway; Moonshine; Easy Rider/Northern Route, Upper and Lower Easy Rider, and The Wall.
Note that many of the named runs are not top-to-bottom runs, but refer only to the top or bottom of half of a given line. By mixing and matching, you achieve more variety.
The day lodge features standard cafeteria style seating upstairs and down. The food service downstairs is rather small, but the menu is typical. There’s more seating area upstairs, especially when you take into account the bar.
Like the other ski areas in the region, it offers an attractive package for beginners, including rental equipment, lift tickets, and lessons.