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So many hills...

Tri-State area is home to many areas for sledding, other winter fun

Tri-State area is home to many areas for sledding, other winter fun

December 18, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Winter doesn't officially begin until Monday, Dec. 22, but the season's first snow already has come and gone. So has the season's second snow.

If you believe J. Gruber's Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack, the second-oldest continuously published almanac in the United States, we're in for more. The publication is warning that we'll get nearly as much snow as we had last year.

Have some fun. Go sledding.

You can sled almost anywhere there's snow and an incline. Lots of good hills were mentioned in an informal and totally unscientific survey, but many of them are on private property. Landowners may not chase or call the law on sledders, but neither do they want their turf publicized.

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Years ago, street crews wouldn't plow or salt certain hilly roads in Chambersburg, Pa., Hancock and Williamsport, and kids would take their sleds to the streets. Increased traffic and safety concerns put an end to that.

Public places in the Tri-State area also get snowed on, and although they may not have star-quality sledding hills, they provide opportunities for fresh air and winter fun.

Maryland


Junior Mason, superintendent of Hagerstown's Parks and Recreation, is happy to see people using City Park in the winter. Although there are not officially designated sledding areas, there are a couple of favorite spots.

People slide down the hill above the softball field at the back of the park.

Another launching point is the intersection of Key Street and Highland Avenue. The hill takes sledders into the park's north parking lot.

Mason, in the parks department for 29 years, has been sledding a few years longer. He occasionally still stops by to join kids in a sled ride.

Except for Washington County Regional Park on Mount Aetna Road near Black Rock Golf Course east of Hagerstown, gates (and restrooms) are closed at county parks, but visitors are welcome to visit anyway from 9 a.m. to sunset, says Jim Sterling, director of buildings, grounds and parks. Park staff plows the Regional Park parking lot, and Sterling says there were several sledders sliding the weekend of the season's first snow.

There's a little hill behind the fort at Fort Frederick State Park, but the park is not known for its sledding. "It's a nice ride," says Sherian Hose, park staffer. People can cross-country ski on the nearby Western Maryland Trail. The paved surface is smooth and level.

Some other area state parks are not sledding hot spots, but they are open for winter hiking in the snow. In Washington County, Gathland, Greenbrier and South Mountain state parks are open from 8 a.m. to sunset.

  • Fort Frederick State Park, 11100 Fort Frederick Road, Big Pool, 301-842-2155.

  • Cunningham Falls State Park, 14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont, Md., 301-271-7574

  • Gambrill State Park, 8602 Gambrill Park Road (off U.S. 40) Frederick, Md., 301-271-7574

    Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks are open from 10 a.m. to sunset all winter long, but there is no place to sled. Call before you visit the park on a snowy day to make sure parks are open and entrances plowed.

  • Despite its gently rolling hills, sledding is not permitted at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg. Cross-country skiing is allowed on the park's hiking trails. Park roads are open from 8:30 a.m. to dusk daily. Admission is $3.


Pennsylvania


Chambersburg's Memorial Park is flat and level, so sledding isn't much of an option, but people cross-country ski, says Herb Dollaway, superintendent, Chambersburg Recreation office.

In Waynesboro, Pa., sledders gather to slide down the hill in front of the old junior high school - across from the hospital on Pa. 16. It's a nice run - away from the road.

  • Caledonia State Park, intersection of U.S. 30 and Pa. 233, Fayetteville, Pa. 1-717-352-2161.

    People hike and cross-country ski at Caledonia State Park, but there's no sledding. The park is open from dawn till dusk.

  • Cowans Gap State Park, 6235 Aughwick road, Fort Loudon, Pa. The park is sandstone and rock, and there are a lot of trees - not conducive to sledding, says Steve Behe, superintendent. But the park is open during daylight hours through the winter months for hiking and cross-country skiing in the snow.

  • Ski Whitetail

    13805 Blair's Valley Road

    Mercersburg, Pa.

    1-717-328-9400; www.skiwhitetail.com/tube.htm

    Regular snow tubing hours:

    4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday

    9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday

    Rates are $8 to $15 per hour, depending on when and how long.

    Participants must be at least 5 years old.

    A children's tubing area is available for ages 2 to 4 on a smaller, more gradual slope. Admission is $4 for one hour.

  • For information about snow tubing at Ski Liberty in Carroll Valley, Pa., call 1-717-642-8282 or go to www.skiliberty.com on the Web.

    West Virginia


    • Cacapon Resort State Park, 818 Cacapon Lodge Drive, Berkeley Springs, W.Va. 1-800-CALL WVA

      There is no formal sledding in Cacapon State Park, but Tom Ambrose, park superintendent, says there's a decent sledding hill on the east side of the resort's lodge. Cross-country skiing is permitted on the golf course, but not on the tees and greens.

    • Coolfont Resort

      3621 Cold Run Valley Road

      Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

      1-800-888-8768; www.coolfont.com/recsnow.asp

      Coolfont hopes to have snow tubing open Christmas Day from noon to 4 p.m. You can tube from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 26, through Monday, Dec. 29; noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30, through Thursday, Jan. 1; noon to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2.

      Rates are $10 for one hour, $15 for two hours.

      Height requirement is 44 inches; ages 18 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

      A shuttle transports snow tubers from a parking area to the hill.



    Area resorts hope to open snow tubing slopes soon. Call to make sure they are available.

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