Few activities can take an adult back to their childhood quicker than a trip down the local sledding hill on a plastic disc or wooden toboggan.
Memories of flying down the snowy terrain, cool air stinging cheeks, knowing Mom’s hot chocolate awaited after a full afternoon of playing return almost instantly.
But sledding isn’t simply a nostalgic pastime. Today’s youth — even with video games, iPhones and TikTok — love it just as much.
Whenever snow reaches central Ohio — in measurable, plowable, sticking-to-the-ground amounts — hills across town fill with bundled-up thrill seekers of all ages.
“Sledding is such a popular winter activity,” said Homa Moheimani, spokeswoman for the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. “That’s when everyone’s inner child comes out.”
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Besides figuring out the warmest combination of long johns and sweatpants, finding the best hill to sled down is key to a successful sledding outing.
Even in the Columbus area, known for its flat landscape, quality sledding peaks aren’t difficult to locate if you know where to look.
Columbus and Metro Parks sledding hills
Within Metro Parks alone, there are seven designated sledding hills — from the smaller, kid-friendly one at Walnut Woods Metro Park in Groveport to the much taller slopes at Highbanks Metro Park reserved for the more daring, Moheimani said.
“Park rangers are at the hills on busy days, making sure everyone is safe, laughing and having fun,” she continued.
Though it is not finished, yet, a “behemoth” sledding hill is being installed at the newly opened Quarry Trails Metro Park that should be open by next winter, Moheimani said.
Ohio State parks sledding
State parks boast some fun sledding opportunities as well, said Jason Meyers, park manager at Alum Creek State Park.
Though there are no sledding spots directly inside the park he oversees, Meyers said there is a great one just on the other side of the dam near the southern end of the property. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built it several years ago to discourage people from sledding on the dam, which can be very dangerous.
“It has a nice parking lot and it’s a fenced-in area,” Meyers said. “It’s a nice, easy slope to walk up and slide down. It’s a big hill meant just for sledding.”
Delaware State Park also has a designated sledding hill, Meyers continued.
However, his favorite spot to take his daughter sledding when she was younger was at Gallant Woods Park in the Preservation Parks system in Delaware County.
Sledding, Meyers said, gives people a great excuse to get outside and get moving even when temperatures are chillier. The activity allows people to see the beautiful parks around central Ohio in a new light and during a different time of year.
“For me, I love winter,” Meyers said. “I think the parks are the most beautiful in the winter. I love snow and snow activities.”
So if the fluffy white stuff starts dumping from the skies soon, here are some of the best sledding spots in the Columbus area — both within and outside the parks systems:
Clintonville and central Columbus
• Columbus Park of Roses, 3901 N. High St.
• Clinton-Como Park, 301 W. Pacemont Road
• Antrim Park, 5800 Olentangy River Road
• Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 400 W. Whittier St.
• Delaware State Park, 75 Downing Road
• Gallant Woods Park, 2151 Buttermilk Hill Road
• Alum Creek Lake, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hill, 5905 Lewis Center Road
• Ballantrae Community Park, 6350 Woerner Temple Road
• Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, 8465 Alkire Road
• Scioto Grove Metro Park, 5172 Jackson Pike
• Walnut Woods Metro Park, 6716 Lithopolis Road (Buckeye area)
• Highbanks Metro Park, 9466 Columbus Pike
• Blacklick Woods Golf Courses, 7309 E Livingston Ave.
• Sharon Woods Metro Park, 6911 Cleveland Ave.
• Olentangy River Parklands, 600 W. Wilson Bridge Road
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Where to sled around the Columbus area