A few inches of fresh snow and what is the first thing on everyone’s mind: Sledding, of course.
“I love the rush you get when you take off down a good hill,” said Courtney Sheffer, marketing director for West Michigan Tourist Association.
Whether the kids have a snow day or you head out for a weekend family fun, there’s just nothing like the feeling of zooming down a sledding hill. As you let out peals of laughter, you breathe in the crisp air and feel the winter chill hitting your face. It’s a thrill unlike any other and all you need for an afternoon of sledding fun are layers of warm clothing and a sled, toboggan or snow tube.
“Sledding is fun for the entire family, creating special winter memories you can cherish for a lifetime. The thrill of zipping down the hill, racing your friends or going down the hill for the first time by yourself all make for a fun winter day sledding,” said Hilary Simmet, marketing/media specialist.
No two sledding hills are the same. Each will have different features and their own unique characteristics.
“Many places have tow-ropes or ‘magic carpets’ that will bring both you and your sled/tube back to the top of the hill, so no more trudging up the hill after every run,” said Sheffer.
The Metroparks offer sledding at six different parks. Kensington Metropark in Milford features a variety of hills, from beginner to advanced, including a short “bunny hill” designated for younger sled riders that has padded trees for added safety. Willow Metropark in New Boston has a lighted sledding hill so the fun can continue into the evening hours.
Other opportunities for sledding are available at these Metroparks: Indian Springs Metropark in White Lake; Lake Erie Metropark in Brownstown; Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township; Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township.
Many communities have a sledding hill ready for winter enthusiasts. Waterford Oaks County Park in Waterford has a Family Sledding Hill, for example, and it was named the 2017 MetroParent Best Sledding Hill for southeast Michigan.
The great thing about sledding is that it is a very affordable option for families, especially for those who may not be interested in a winter sport where they will need to take lessons and invest in equipment and gear. In addition, sledding appeals to a wide range of ages, from younger children who still need their parents nearby, to pre-teens and teens who seek a thrilling and comfortable trip down the hill, said Sheffer.
Simmet said to just remember to follow safe practices and dress for the weather.
Sheffer agreed that everyone needs to be bundled up.
“You’ll want to stay warm so you can stay outside having fun for longer,” she said. “Snow tubing, sledding and tobogganing are less strenuous than downhill/cross country skiing or snowshoeing, where you’ll generate more of your own heat, so you’ll need to bundle up well to make sure you stay toasty while you’re outdoors.”
When the lake effect snow kicks in, the western side of the state often benefits from additional inches (and sometime even feet!) of fluffy, fresh snow. Even if there is little or no snow on the ground in the southeast region, chances are there will be in the Lake Michigan communities.
If you are looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, consider these sledding spots suggested by the West Michigan Tourist Association:
• Cannonsburg, Belmont
• Double JJ Resort, Rothbury
• Timber Ridge Ski Area, Gobles
• Cran-Hill Ranch, Rodney
• Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire
• Echo Valley, Kalamazoo
• Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, Muskegon