My seven-year-old neighbor skis black diamond runs with no qualms. When asked about her favorite on Red Lodge Mountain, her eyes sparkle and her hands dance as she tells me how she skis Rabbit Trails. "Over, around, up and down, there are little hills to jump, and you go faster and faster."
Mention Rabbit Trails to adult skiers and they will roll their eyes and groan. Despite the benign name and green circle, it is not to be taken lightly, especially if you are over five feet tall and on skis longer than 160s. I am neither, and it has taken me twenty-five years to recover from the time my eight-year-old niece led me into it, then impatiently waited at the end while I extricated myself from a thicket of trees. A ski instructor told me that skiing it is a good test of skills--how upright and steady you are on skis. Flailing, skidding, and snowplowing, the only part I passed was staying upright and still connected to my skis.
Early on a Sunday, when it was empty (the best time for adults), I convinced my partner that we needed to explore Rabbit Trails. Choosing which meandering track to follow, weaving between trees, ducking under deadfall, careening around ruts, taking accidental hops over logs, we bounced out through the ropes and onto Ladies Aid. No wonder kids love it.
The distinct patterns of rabbit tracks are easy to spot going under the lifts and into the woods. We have seen quail, ravens, mountain chickadees, squirrels, and once a bobcat, but never rabbits. Not even on Rabbit Trails.