News & Politics

Best of 2004: Sledding Hills

Here are five thriller hills to hit up with your sled.

Great sledding hills are an endangered species, victims of development and liability-minded fences. Here are some that still offer fun and excitement.

Generations of kids in the Hollin Hills neighborhood off Route 1 in Fairfax County have trekked to Sutton Potter Park, a patch of former farmland tucked into woods and surrounded by homes. Enter through the park entrance in the 7400 block of Range Road. Turn right up a narrow bobsledlike track–good only for sleds with steering. At the top, fields to the right are home to two open hills that slope more gently.

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial–better known as the Masonic Temple–sits on one of Alexandria's highest plots. Newly planted trees have spoiled a few runs, but the hill closest to the intersection of Park Road and King Street offers a long, gentle sweep. The ride isn't fast, but you'll still want to station a grownup at the bottom, which spills into King Street.

Athletic fields behind Frost Middle School in Rockville sit on a wide, treeless hill that accommodates dozens of sledders. The fast, steep run levels off at the bottom for a smooth stop.

When there's snow, the National Park Service sometimes closes steep hills on Ross and Morrow drives in Rock Creek Park to traffic. Call 202-619-7300 to check whether sleds or cars rule the day.

Battery Kemble Park off Chain Bridge Road in Northwest DC is perhaps the District's most famous sledding spot. One hill offers wonderful treetop views of the Wesley Heights neighborhood to the east; the run starts narrowly, plateaus, then plunges down to the parking lot.

Washingtonian staff contributing to this section were Chuck Conconi, Sherri Dalphonse, Susan Davidson, Mary Clare Fleury, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Stephanie Jones, Ann Limpert, Drew Lindsay, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Jeremy Stahl.  Also contributing were writers Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Jenny Sullivan.