My husband and I took a few days off right after New Year’s Day. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground leftover from our Christmas storms, so on one of those days we decided to bust out our sleds and go find a good hill.
Not as easy as it sounds. Central Ohio is fairly flat. You kind of have to look around for hills. But I thought I had the perfect one in mind: the sledding hill out at Highbanks Metro Park. Yes, a hill devoted to sledding! It’s relatively steep, there’s a nice long run at the bottom so you don’t sled out into a road, they have a little hot chocolate shed nearby, they put hay bales around any hazards– it’s a pretty plush setup. I’ve noticed this sledding hill for years while hiking in the park, but had never tried it before. Off we went.Only to find that the hill was CLOSED! There was a big stern sign saying the hill was not open to sledders. We went out several days after the snow fell, and I think all of the previous sledders had packed down the snow on the hill to the point that it was pretty much just a thick sheet of ice.
After a short hike on one of the park’s many trails:
we set off to find another sledding option.
This time, we decided to try a hill behind the Groveport Recreation Center. Not very high or steep, more of a large bump, really. But again with a nice long open run at the bottom. No dodging trees or cars! Unfortunately, not enough other people had attempted to sled that little bunny hill. The snow wasn’t packed down enough for the runners on our old-school sleds to work. It was like trying to sled in wet concrete. No amount of pushing would get the sleds moving. Utter defeat.
By now we were rabid to sled down a hill, any hill, gosh darn it! My husband used his phone to try to goggle another likely spot. And he thought he found something. Sycamore Park in Pickerington supposedly had sledding. It was about 45 minutes until sunset. We decided to try.
Victory!!! The sledding hills at Sycamore Park formed a kind of basin or natural amphitheater. Some of the hills were higher than others, the snow was perfectly packed, the run at the bottom was long and obstacle-free, and there was even a nice jump on one of the hills. And since schools were back in session, we had the whole place to ourselves.
I even managed to catch some air off the jump a few times, it was great fun!
Our old-school, wood-with-metal-runners sleds worked perfectly here. Nice speed with a good long glide off the bottom of the hills. We’d picked the 2 of them up for maybe $3.00 at an estate sale a while ago, it was fun to finally put them to use.Good stuff! Our sledding odyssey was totally worth the effort.
An added bonus? Sycamore Park turned out to be home to the Fairfield County Bicentennial Barn. Ohio celebrated its statehood bicentennial in 2003. As part of the festivities, a barn in each of Ohio’s 88 counties was painted with the bicentennial logo. I’ve seen some, but mostly because, being visible from highways, a few of them are quite easy to view. It was an unexpected pleasure to bump into this one on our sledding excursion.