Sledding can be great fun and excellent winter exercise with a bit of preparation. Contributing factors such as the weather, sledding gear and winter wear should all be considered when preparing for your family’s winter outing. Even the most experienced sledding enthusiasts may learn something new from our sledding tips or discover a new favorite sledding hill from those below, recommended by our readers!
Check the weather forecast. Even though the temperature outside may not be especially low, other weather factors, such as wind chill, are important to take into consideration when you are planning to spend several minutes out of doors. Checking an hourly forecast, as well, can allow you to see potential storm fronts and temperature drops and prepare accordingly. Don’t forget to use SPF on any exposed skin!
Dress in warm, waterproof layers. When sledding, more complete coverage is essential, especially for children. Snow pants or a full-body snowsuit of waterproof/water-resistant material should be worn. While warm gloves or mittens and coats come in absorbent materials, these are not ideal unless they are water-resistant. Boots must also be waterproof/water-resistant. Snow pant cuffs ideally secure around the outside of the boots, preventing snow from landing inside and soaking the socks and feet. Hats should completely cover ears. Underneath this winter gear, wear layers of natural, moisture-wicking fibers, such as cotton, to keep “pockets” of warm air next to the body.
Choose your sled. There is one question that stands out as important when choosing a sled, especially for a child. Does the sled have a steering mechanism? Some sleds have simple steering along the front. Many sleds do not. Younger riders and riders on busy hills may want to avoid sleds which they cannot quickly steer away from others or away from obstacles. Several types of sleds are directed by the way in which the rider leans; however, this may not be ideal for very young riders or for situations in which a rider may need to turn quickly.
Know your limits. Pay attention to your body’s well-being as well as to the well-being of those with you. Conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia can occur with exposure to cold weather. According to the American Red Cross, symptoms for frostbite include a lack of feeling in the affected area, skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue). Hypothermia symptoms include such things as shivering which may stop as one’s body temperature continues to drop, numbness, a glassy stare, apathy, weakness, impaired judgment and loss of consciousness. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should be moved to a warm environment, and if frostbite and/or hypothermia is suspected, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately.
Top 10 Reader-Recommended “Hot” Spots
• Mendon Ponds Park: 95 Douglas Road, Honeoye Falls in the Towns of Pittsford and Mendon Features: Two designated sledding hills Hours: 6am-11pm (Some date restrictions apply.)
• Genesee County Park: 11095 Bethany Ctr. Rd., E. Bethany (Sledding at Genesee County Park & Forest) 153 Cedar Street, Batavia (DeWitt Recreation Area) Features: Two Toboggan Hills Hours: 9am-5pm (Winter Hours)
• Centennial Park: 151 State St, Batavia Features: Great sledding hill Hours: Dawn to Dusk
• Letchworth State Park: Livingston & Wyoming Counties with entrances in Mount Morris, Parade Grounds (closed winter), Portageville, Castile (sledding) and Perry (call for accessibility) Features: Sledding Hill and Trailside Lodge, hot cocoa and snacks for sale (hours vary) Hours: 6am-11pm Admission: $10 per vehicle (excluding buses) 5/6 - 5/20: weekends only; 5/25 - 10/28: daily
• Avon Driving Park: 350 Spring St, Avon Features: Gently rolling hills Hours: Dawn to Dusk
• Starr Park: Behind Leicester Presbyterian Church, Corner of Main Street and York Road, Leicester Features: Visitors park at top of steep hill, playground and open pavilion at bottom Hours: Dawn to Dusk
• Webster Park: 255 Holt Road, Webster Features: One, big, designated sledding hill next to the Parkview Lodge off Holt Road Hours: 7am-11pm
• Center Park West: 1350 Turk Hill Rd, Fairport Features: Steep, lengthy hill and a gentler, smaller hill Hours: 8am-10pm
• Black Creek Park: 3835 Union Street, North Chili Features: Steep, designated sledding hill behind Woodside Lodge Hours: 6am-11pm
• Onanda Park: 4965 County Road 16, Canandaigua Features: Winter sledding on the upland side Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Don’t see your favorite sledding hill? Share it with us at email@example.com!