After spending too much time inside, a heavy snowfall allows families to get some fresh air and to take an exhilarating ride on a sled. Fortunately, there are lots of sledding hills in this area and most of them also have beautiful scenery.
One of the most exciting sledding hills is at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda, a steep hill set among a forest of trees. Lights make this a popular hill, said Mike Tully, assistant superintendent of maintenance operations for the Lake County Forest Preserve District. The district has a second sledding hill at Old School Forest Preserve, near Libertyville.
The hilly geography of Algonquin provides three sledding venues in its village parks. The Braewood Park hill was the first sledding hill in the community and adults remember going there when they were small, so it continues to be popular said Steve Ludwig, parks and forestry superintendent.
High Hill Park and Nature Preserve has a hill behind the playground. "It goes down to the preserve and it has great vista views, but it's a little bit smaller than Braewood," Ludwig said.
Spella Park has the newest hill with modern conveniences, such as push lights for sledding at night and a heating element.
"The view is incredible," Ludwig said. "The first year, I took the kids and there was this little girl, about 4 years old with her mom. It was just starting to get dark and you could see all the lights, and the girl said, "Mommy, it looks just like heaven.'"
Ludwig describes the hill as "big, fast and furious."
Sledders should exercise caution. According to the National Safety Council, the correct position for sledding is to lie on your back, or sit on the sled, with your feet facing down the hill. Sledding head first increases the risk of injury.
Many area hills prohibit metal runners on sleds, and some prohibit snowboarding.
"We don't want kids running in chains together and kids think it's fun to make jumps, but that's when we get calls for injuries. Those things are discouraged," said Tully.
Check out these area sledding hills:
Blair Park Sled Hill, 355 W. Washington, has lights and is open until 9 p.m.
There is no official sledding hill in Lake Forest, but many people use a hill at Deerpath Golf Course, 500 W. Deerpath, said Edward Gudas, program supervisor for park recreation for the City of Lake Forest. "It was a toboggan run at one point. It's sled at your own risk," he said.
Adler Park, 1500 N. Milwaukee Ave., has a lighted sled hill. The park also has a warming shelter, concession stand and rest rooms.
There is a scenic sledding hill at Old School Forest Preserve, St. Mary's Road, south of Rte. 176
Willow Stream Park, 600 Farrington Rd., offers an unsupervised sled hill that is lighted at the top, until 10:30 p.m.
Scenic sledding is offered at Margreth Riemer Reservoir, Wood, Quentin and Palatine roads; and at Robert "Dutch" Schultz Recreation Area, 512 Northwest Hwy,
Sledding is available until dusk at Paulus Park, 200 S. Rand Rd. "It's a very popular hill. Every time there's just a little bit of snow, the hill is well used," said Bonnie Matheson, recreation supervisor at Paulus Park.
Hart's Hill , a Round Lake Area Park District sledding hill, is located at 814 Hart Road. The lighted hill is open until 9 p.m.
Lakewood Forest Preserve Winter Sports Area, at Fairfield and Ivanhoe roads, offers a large, lighted hill.
Converse Park, Rte. 176, west of N. Darrell Rd., offers a high, lighted hill.
Sled from dawn to dusk at Lions Park, Silver Lake Road, north of Three Oaks Road.
Braewood Park, 1001 Gaslight Dr., is a popular hill. High Hill Park and Nature Preserve, 501 Kirkland, has nice vistas. Spella Park, 2610 Harnish Drive, has great views, a fast hill, lights and a warming element.
The Crystal Lake Park District has something for everyone with four sledding hills. Veterans Park, Rte. 176 at Walkup Ave., has two hills – the Babe Ruth Hill is lighted and there is a smaller unlit hill south of the Nature Center.
Four Colonies, Sarasota Lane, south of Barlina Road, has a small sledding hill, ideal for younger children.
The fourth sledding hill is at Butternut Preserve, off Butternut Drive, east of Briarwood Road.
The McHenry County Conservation District has a sledding hill at Glacial Park, off Rte. 31 and Harts Road.