That's what an American tourist complained about when arrived in Yekaterinburg. Not that he really complained about his visit, he enjoyed it a lot but where are the mountains? The question is not unusual. If you come to Yekaterinburg and stay in the city center you will not see any mountains. Even if you climb the tallest skyscraper called Antey Business Center the view will be somewhat disappointing. So where are the mountains in the Urals?
The thing is Yekaterinburg lies on the flat platform of the eastern slope of the Ural Mountains. You get the most picturesque view when travelling by train from Perm (on the western slope) to Yekaterinburg. Then again don't expect to see snowy peaks broken by clouds. The Ural Mountains are one of the oldest in the world - three hundred million years old. Those days the mountains were as high as the Alps 4-5 km. Now they are only 300-400 m. However it's enough to give you many opportunities for snowboarding and mountain skiing. You may start right in Yekaterinburg as there is Uktusskaya Gora (mountain) within the city boundaries. Take a trolley bus from the center in the southern direction and get off at Uktuss. The slope is good for beginners and you can rent all the necessary equipment there.
To see the real mountains take a trip to the north to Gora Yezhovaya (90km from Yekaterinburg) or Gora Belaya near the town of Nizhni Tagil (170 km from Yekaterinburg). Gora Volchikha (Wolf Mountain) is popular with the citizens and it's only 50 km west to the city. Serious winter sport amateurs should visit Abzakovo skiing resort in Southern Urals - one of the best known in Russia it is Vladimir Putin's favourite. Although now Mr. Putin claims that his favourite slopes are in Sochi (for promotional reasons of course).
It's not only in winter when the mountains are worth visiting. In summer you can go horse riding, cycling and hiking. As for hiking, I would recommend Nature Park Olenyi Ruchyi (Deer Creek). It's amazing any time of the year especially in autumn. See the pictures on my Facebook page Yekaterinburg for You.
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