Ah! Sledding! What spells winter fun more than taking a wild ride down a snow-covered hill? Grab your toboggan and a thermos of hot chocolate; it’s time for the winter merriment to begin!
For the newbies
When my oldest niece was just a toddler I held her tight, and we took a ride down the baby hill near the playground at Gompers Park (4222 W. Foster Ave.). She grinned with glee and wanted to go again and again. With just a very gentle incline and a field house nearby for a diaper change or a warm up for your tyke, this could be the perfect park to introduce your little one to the exhilarating art of sledding.
One thing that is important to know is that the Chicago Park District doesn’t offer any formal sledding programming or prep hills for sledding. Fun-seeking families, who take the plunge whenever hills and snowy weather collide, should consider the elements and safety concerns before hopping on a sled at an unofficial Park District sledding site.
For thrill seekers
Another unofficial Park District slope is the sizeable hill at Warren Park (6601 N. Western Ave.). Stairs and railings on both sides help families make it uphill more easily. Bigger kids can enjoy a steep descent from the tippy top. If you think the whole slope is too much for your smaller kiddos, why not have them launch from a midway point along the hill?
Now if you are really geared up for a fun-filled winter day, after taking some trips down the slope, check out the ice rink that is supported by a partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks organization offers free hockey clinics at the park, too. Maybe your little one could turn out to be the next Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane?
For nature lovers
The Forest Preserve does offer an official program, which means that you can introduce your little bunny to sledding and the beauty of nature at the same time. There are plenty of Forest Preserve hills across Chicagoland to choose from and you can find the full list here. One sledding spot that piques my interest is Dan Ryan Woods West. It lies within the city limits in a 257-acre South Side preserve that encourages safe sledding with a well-marked up path and lighting for twilight sledders. The sledding hill is one of the highest elevation points in the city, so who knows, you might even catch a twinkling city skyline view.
Swallow Cliff Woods North offers sledding fun beyond the city limits amid an 800-acre preserve. Be among the first to get toasty in the new warming pavilion that will be ready to greet the sled crew the next time the snowy weather hits. Make sure that there is a hearty helping of snow before you head over, because this site requires six inches for sledding. If the conditions are right, you can relish a ride down the 100-foot slope. Stairs on both sides are cleared and salted for the sled crowd. Take some time to stroll around the trails. Point out the towering oak trees to your pint-sized explorer, and if you listen closely enough, you might even hear a woodpecker looking for a buggy treat!
What sledding spots do you enjoy with your family in Chicagoland? Share it with the Chicago Parent community in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!