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Where are the best places to sled in central Ohio?
Winter has finally arrived, and when cabin fever sets in, there is no better antidote than an afternoon of sledding.
Whatever age you are, you can bet that a fast-paced trip down a snow covered hill will get your blood pumping and adrenaline rushing.
Where to sled?
Here in central Ohio, there are several options for sledding. The Metro Parks system has several sledding hills that are open throughout the winter. They include:
• Battelle-Darby Creek Park, 1775 Darby Creek Drive in Galloway, which has a sledding area located south on Alkire Road, just east of Darby Creek bridge.
• Blacklick Woods and Golf Courses, 6975 and 7309 E. Livingston Ave. in Reynoldsburg.
• Blendon Woods, 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road, has a sledding area for kids only. Turn right at the ranger station and continue to the dead-end.
• Highbanks, 9466 U.S. 23 N in Lewis Center, has a sledding site near the Big Meadows picnic area.
• Sharon Woods, 6911 Cleveland Ave., has an area just north of the park entrance on Cleveland Avenue.
To check whether a Metro Parks sledding site is open, call (614) 891-0700 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The website, www.sledriding.com, lists area sledding hills and includes demographics such as the slope, length and accessibility. Note, however, that some of the hills listed on the site are on private property.
A few of the public parks suggested on that site include:
• Big Run Park off Clime Road, with a 40-degree slope and a length of 200 to 300 feet. “The left of the hill has jumps,” the site reads. “The right side of the hill doesn’t. There are usually not that many people there.”
• Scioto Park, 7377 Riverside Drive in Dublin, with a 45-degree slope and 100 to 200 feet in length. “There’s nobody there if you come early,” a reviewer commented. “There’s a steeper hill, a ‘bunny hill,’ and a designated walkway.”
Perhaps one of the best ways to find a sledding hill is to simply ask around.
“The Walnut Ridge hill was so close to home it ended up being where we’d go sledding all the time,” Eastside native Michelle George McMahon said. “It was very fun because of all the friends there. Usually it was a snow day and hot chocolate wasn’t far away.”
The drawback, however, were the uncontrollable disc sleds and the trees at the bottom of the hill.
“Once or twice we went to a park out in Whitehall, off Hamilton Road close to the airport,” she said. “That was the best, but typically on a snow day, my parents weren’t going to drive anywhere they didn’t have to.”
Tracy Randall Baxley, also an Eastside native, recalled there were two sledding hills in the Walnut Ridge High School area – one on the high school property, and one in the public park across the street.
“I liked the one that led to the pond,” she said. “We would race to see who could make it to there. What fun memories.”
Fun and safe
Every year, thousands of youths and adults are injured sledding downhill in city parks, streets and resort areas, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
The majority of injuries occur to youths age 14 and younger, especially in the “run outs” located at the end of the sledding path.
The AAOS recommends adult supervision so that children sledding down a hill don’t collide with children in the run outs, as well as the end of the sledding path isn’t near a street, parking lot, pond or other hazardous area.
Some sledding injuries may be serious enough to cause lifelong disability or death, according to the AAOS. The organization recommends that children younger than 12 wear helmets while sledding.
According to the site, children have proportionally larger heads and higher centers of gravity than older children and teens. Younger children’s coordination have not fully developed and they may have difficulty avoiding falls and obstacles.
The AAOS suggests the following safety guidelines for sledding:
• Do not sled on public streets.
• Sit in a forward facing position. Some youths may run with their sleds and leap forward in a “belly flop” that does not give them control of where they are sledding.
• Do not sled on plastic sheets. They cannot be steered and can be pierced by sharp objects. The sled should have runners and a steering mechanism, which is safer than toboggans or snow discs.
• Sledding in the evening should only be done in well-lighted areas.
Dress for the cold
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) would like to remind everyone that dressing for the cold is important. The department reminds sled riders to come prepared, be aware and know when to go indoors, as well as:
• Dress warmly in layers. Start with insulating fabrics and use a final layer of protective fabrics.
Insulating fabrics trap the body’s heat. Start with thin layers of polypropylene close to the skin. Add fabrics that retain heat even when wet such as wood or synthetic fleece.
• Avoid 100 percent cotton garments, as they are most effective at drawing heat away from the body.
Protective fabrics prevent the elements from cooling the insulating layers. Parkas, rain suits and jackets made of Gore-tex and some of the new microfibers are ideal.
• Keep your head, neck and hands covered and wear waterproof boots.
• Drink water to prevent dehydration and avoid alcoholic beverages.
• Be alert for the symptoms of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness, slow or slurred speech, memory lapses or clumsiness.
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