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Posted on Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

Guide to the Ann Arbor area's best sledding hills

By Edward Vielmetti

The first storm of the 2010 sledding season arrived on December 12. To celebrate, here's last year's guide to sledding, updated throughout.


Melanie Maxwell |

From the poem, "A Primer," by Bob Hicok in The New Yorker, May 19, 2008:

February is thirteen months long in Michigan. We are a people who by February want to kill the sky for being so gray and angry at us. “What did we do?” is the state motto.

What do we do in winter? We go sledding.

Here's a list of sledding hills, arranged with the steepest, scariest, double black diamond runs at the top and the bunny hills at the bottom. For each one that I know about, I've also suggested a place to go afterwards for hot chocolate and a bathroom for the kids.

Scary steep double black diamond

None; blame the glaciers.

The big hills for the county

The Huron Hills Golf Course, 3465 E. Huron River Drive, 734-971-6840, is the mother of all sledding hills in Ann Arbor. During the summer it's a municipal golf course; in the winter, the long slopes down toward the river draw in legions of sledding enthusiasts. If you pick the right spot you can get some air off of a sand trap. It's located at Huron Parkway and East Huron River Drive just south of the Huron River. Park across the street and walk carefully across at the light. Call ahead to see if the clubhouse will be open. Hot chocolate: north to the Flim Flam in the Plymouth Road Mall, or south to Panera Bread at Huron Parkway and Washtenaw.

Rolling Hills County Park, 7660 Stony Creek Road, Ypsilanti Township, 734-484-9676, has sledding and rents toboggans and sled tubes as well as ski equipment. Operated by the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, it's located at the southern edge of Ypsilanti Township. Warm up in the lodge there after you're done. For county residents, a daily pass is $5, and an annual pass is $25.

City parks


Six-year-old Claire Cerda smiles as she and her father Christopher sled down a hill at Veterans Memorial Park.

Melanie Maxwell |

Each of these hills provides good neighborhood sledding facilities - you wouldn't drive across the county to get there as a destination, but they make a great place for a short trip or a walk with your sled.

West side: Veteran's Memorial Park (Maple Road) is a great west side location. There are bathrooms on site in the ice rink, and you can head over to Barry Bagels or Plum Market afterwards for a snack.

Old West Side: Slauson Middle School field (at Crest Street). This is a school playground with a long, gentle slope that brings in kids from the whole neighborhood. It's in a residential neighborhood and there are no facilities nearby, but downtown is only a few blocks away.

Northwest side: Hunt Park (Sunset between Spring and Daniel) is a long valley to enjoy with a great view of the city.

Central: Burns Park (between Granger and Wells) features "Magic Mountain", a curious knoll of unknown origin that provides a modestly steep but short run. Your closest facilities are at Caribou Coffee at Stadium and Packard.

East side: County Farm Park (Platt Road between Washtenaw and Huron Parkway) has meadows which make for good, gentle sledding; it's near the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, so you could warm up with a hot shower afterwards.

North side: Leslie Park (off Dhu Varren) has a sledding hill with a great view over Leslie Golf Course; it would be a good trip to pair with a visit to the Traverwood branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

Ypsilanti: Riverside Park is visible from the Cross Street Bridge in Depot Town and is very popular with the locals. Warm up afterwards at the Sidetrack for adult beverages, or at Cafe Luwak for hot chocolate.

Saline: Mill Pond Park has a good sledding hill in the northeast corner of the park.

Bunny hills

For the preschool set, these locations feature gentle slopes and slow speeds.

Crary Park (Washtenaw at Cambridge in Ann Arbor) has a hill suitable for an active 3-year-old; the park is only 1.3 acres and the slope is easy to walk up. When you're done, warm up a few blocks away at the Common Cup at 1511 Washtenaw Ave., in the basement of the University Lutheran Chapel.

Mushroom Park is a 1.54-acre neighborhood park located between Waltham and Saxon off of Scio Church Road with a slope suitable for preschoolers. Afterwards, make a trip to the Pittsfield branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, or head toward town to the Espresso Royale at South Main Street and Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

Don't go there

The playgrounds at Ann Arbor Open (Mack School) and at Northside Elementary are unsuitable for sledding due to obstacles at the bottom of the slopes.

Sledding is forbidden in Nichols Arboretum.

It's always a bad idea to go sledding down the middle of a street, unless the street has been blocked off for the purpose.

Edward Vielmetti learned to sled in the gully at Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, MI. You can see him at the top of Magic Mountain in Burns Park, squinting off into the distance to look at Michigan Stadium and trying to catch a ray of winter sunshine. Contact him at



Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

Trays? We "borrowed" giant frying pans from the dorm cafeteria. Oh so heavy, you really got moving. Although, the wipe-outs were a bit more terrifying as large metal frying pan handles became spears to avoid. Sigh, to be 20 again.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

When I was a kid, Vets Hill was called, "Killer Hill." As a parent, I have my kids avoid this hill when it is busy. The hill is great - I just wish parents would teach their children sledding safety: after sledding down the hill, move off to the side as quickly as possible; walk up at the side of hill - not the center (this also helps to keep the snow in the paths smooth); and don't go down until your path is clear. The amount of times we have seen the ambulance at this hill is nerve racking and I will bet most accidents occur because these rules were not being followed! Don't forget - there is a smaller and still great hill just east of Killer Hill near the tennis courts. Not as crowded with teens and really fun! Happy (and safe) Sledding to all.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

The Arb was great.... as was the golf course south of the Big House. The Arb was the victim of people who didn't know how to sled, but DID know how to call a lawyer, I guess. (AND idiot students who would sled drunk, and/or on stolen cafeteria trays)

Chip Reed

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 6:54 a.m.

@Edward. The "big hill" at Burns Park is the dirt left over from grading when they took out the old horse track.


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 10:46 p.m.

There are severasl great runs in the Arb. We would make a night of it, taking real sleds and not trays. I agree, the "chute" down by the meadow is great. There is also a great little trail near the caretaker's residence. Pattengill elementary has a good bunny hill for beginners.Leslie park has a nice little mound, and you can always venture back into the golf course. The hill on number 4 is probably the biggest one on the course. Don't forget you can always improvise and go bumper sledding! Back in the day we made this even better by strapping on a pair of those lace up K-tel skis and attaching a ski rope to the back of a friend's car, cruising the neighborhood streets like we were behind a ski boat.


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 10 p.m.

Ahhh, the memories. Traying in the Arb at Two in the morning. The best hill by far was one that was way back by the meadow. That was wicked steep, impossibly narrow, and had twists and turns. We even did it in a tobaggan once. Somehow, we managed to end up at the bottom back to front. I think we all went home not too long after that one. The best trays were the ones we pinched from the kitchen at South Q. They were big aluminum jobbers that were used for baking, or something. We mostly returned them, albeit a little dented here and there.

Marvin Face

Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 9:51 p.m.

What about Wurster Park on the OWS? Great sledding and Jefferson Market and Washtenaw Dairy each only 2 blocks away.

Angry Sasquatch

Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 8:12 p.m.

I also witnessed someone tray into a tree and smash their face at the Arb. If you must sled there, don't do it under the influence of anything like this individual.


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 7:22 p.m.

We used to go traying in the arb 20 years ago but the police sometimes scouted people out there with flashlights. Plus, do be careful--I know someone who broke his back when he hit a tree sledding in the arb.

Ryan Munson

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 8 p.m.

This is an awesome guide! I plan to sled up north on the big hills this winter and forever more to come.

Ben Connor Barrie

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

The Arb is also not that comfortable to sled in. The hills are wonderfully steep, but the grass is not mowed and forms big frozen hummocks. This can result in a rather rough ride, especially if you wipe out.


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

Back in the day the ARB was the best for "traying" and navigating between trees while fueled by Jagermeister.


Sat, Feb 13, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

Sledding is forbidden in the Arb? I guess all those cafeteria trays are from students bringing their picnic lunches to the bottom of the hill. And there are 3 good hills at Riverside, as long as you are adept at dodging dog poop. Ypsi people dont bother cleaning up after their dogs. Riverside is good after 4 to 6 inches of fresh snowthat way you slide right over the top of all the poo.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

Thank you for a great article. Our family favorite is "Huron Hills" golf course because there are SO MANY different types of sledding hills to choose from, once you're there. If you walk all the way to the back, to the top of the biggest hill, you can sled almost all the way to the bottom! How about an article about pond ice skating?

P. Shah

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

For Rolling Hills, I recommend helmets. Last year, the snow was so packed it was ice, and my daughter and I went right through the "fence" at the bottom of the hill and bumped into a tree (fortunately, we had slowed down a bit by the time we hit the tree). A bloody nose later (another accident) and I resolved never to go back without a helmet!