I’m a sucker for a good snow forecast, and far more often than not I get burned. But on the off-chance the current forecast for a major winter weather event in the Triangle holds true, I would be remiss not to share some of the best places to take your boogie board on Saturday and repurpose it as a sled. Granted, just about any slope — and there are lots of ‘em in most Piedmont neighborhoods — will suffice. But for big hill thrills, try these:
Crowder District Park Short hill with a 30 percent incline near the play fields will make young sledders happy.
Bond Park (pictured). This is the Vail of Triangle sledding. It’s not a huge hill, but it is long, meaning it can accommodate the masses who show up when we get as little as two inches of snow. Another good thing about this hill: At the bottom, you don’t wind up going into a lake or a cement retaining wall. (If you’re into that kind of thing, though, head over to the hill on the dam — that one deposits you in a bunch of trees.) Plus, it’s off High House Road; If you can get out of your neighborhood, you should be able to make it here.
Shelley Lake Good hill off the front of the dam, though you need to stop quick at the bottom (fences, spillways, etc.) Excellent junior hill on the dam’s north side.
Dorothea Dix Lots of slope and variety.
East Franklin Street I can’t exactly advocate sledding down a major four-lane road, but anyone who’s ever ridden a bike up Franklin from S. Estes Drive into downtown can attest to this being one long climb. It goes up, and up, and up and, in the opposite direction I’m assuming down, and down, and down. If the snow’s bad enough and cars can’t get around at all … .
What about us cross-country skiers? you cross-country skiers ask? I just happen to have a pair of waxless Rossignols in my gear shack that are ready to glide. It’s been my experience in the past here in the Triangle that you need a minimum 6 inches to x-country, and that would be on an smooth surface. A greenway, for instance, of which there are more than 100 miles in the Triangle. Click the municipality of your choice for the greenway nearest you. Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville, Raleigh, Smithfield, Wake Forest.
Umstead State Park, Raleigh. Umstead has 13 miles of multiuse trail, with a surface of compacted granite screenings that is concrete smooth, and several more miles of forest roads that are perfect for cross-county. An especially good route option: enter through the Lake Crabtree neighborhood entrance and ski the relatively flat stretch out to the airport overlook and on to Cemetery Hill.
Bond Park, Cary. It’s not all about sledding at Bond Park Winter Resort. There’s 4.2 miles of trail in the park, much of which is natural surface snaking through pines and hardwoods.
Duke Forest, Durham. Duke Forest isn’t a forest, it’s six divisions comprise more than 7,000 acres in Alamance, Durham and Orange counties. Access is provided by dirt roads that become Nordic passages into some of the Triangle’s best backcountry when there’s snow.