With snow in the local forecast (leaving many dreaming of a white Christmas) and it piling up by the feet in the Cascades and in nearby Central Washington, Luke Talbott of Compass Outdoor Adventures (which specializes in getting kids outdoors), shares great local sledding and tubing options for some family winter fun.
[Of course, you’re going to have to wait until the snow slows down at Snoqualmie Pass to get to these places, but weather forecasters say the heavy snow should taper off on Christmas Day.]
Never too Old to Go Sledding
You’re never too old to go sledding. It’s hard to get that feeling of exhilaration any other way. The feeling of being just a “wee bit” out of control – careening almost certainly to your near death just before the drop off into the frozen creek – is a must for all kids and adults alike.
I can actually remember as a child riding with my grandfather on an old runner sled down the local gravel road… the one that never saw a snow plow but was packed into a screaming icy descent by four wheel drive clad locals excited to play in the snow. We’d go barreling down said road, both he and I hooting and hollering in delight, and inevitably, someone would go home soaked from a splash in the frozen creek. It was almost a right of passage.
Sledding with your kids is an amazingly fun and exciting experience. It can also be insanely expensive if you go where our local media directs us. Here are a few of our favorite free, or really inexpensive options for you.
1. Hyak Sled Hill
A great run for the newbies and children. This hill, maintained by Washington State parks, is open with any big snow and allows multiple kids and adults to ride a fairly long run. Make sure to keep your eyes facing uphill as you walk up. We’ve seen scores of children taken out at the knees as they talk to the person downhill from them.
Directions – Take Exit 54 and exit on the south side of the highway. Follow the signs to Hyak Parking Area. You will need a Sno Park permit to park here. (State Parks tries to recoup some of their time and labor of clearing the parking lots. The permit is available here.
2. Suncadia – Tubing
I’ve been to the tubing center at Snoqualmie Pass exactly once. The lines were long and it seemed we waited more than we tubed. Drive just thirty more minutes and you can tube Suncadia’s two runs for far less money and less time in line. These runs are just as fast and also provide the ability to stop by Swiftwater Cellars for a hot chocolate for the kiddos and a great glass of wine for Mom and Dad. A great way to end a snowy day. More info HERE.
3. Suncadia – Sledding
If you’re looking for a bit more adrenaline and are not afraid of the work, one of our favorite sled runs is just behind the Aquatic Center on the Golf Course. With a tee box set high on the hill, a brave child or adult can get in a two to three hundred yard run that is wide open and wickedly fast. The hike back up is tough, but the rush is well worth it. If you have them, I’d suggest setting an uphill climbing route with a set of snowshoes before you jump on the sled. It’ll make life a lot easier coming up later. More info HERE.
4. Snoqualmie Pass PCT – Sledding
For those who want a bit more of a back country experience, we’ve taken kids for years up towards the PCT for a fun little sled run that we always build ourselves. Park at the Summit West parking lot and CAREFULLY cross the street and under I90. On the right you’ll see a snowshoe trail that heads up an open road. This trail is the Commonwealth Basin snowshoe route and a really fun loop for more advanced snow folks. Take your first left off the road, you’ll see a snowshoe’d track, and follow it up the hill. Right before you get to the trail that loops up into the Commonwealth Basin you’ll find an open glade that’s perfectly walled to build your own sled runs and jumps. Use snowshoes to stomp your own run and shovels to build in your jumps. You’ll have a few snowshoers hike on the edge of the area but a quick nod and invite to sled will smooth over any of their concerns regarding your yahoos and hollering.
Summit West info HERE.
Sledding is a Group Activity!
Sledding is great winter fun and you AND your family will have a blast. One last piece of advice. Sledding is a family sport. It’s absolutely not OK to just take your kids to the hill and watch. Your kids will love seeing you be a kid again and who doesn’t need that dash of adrenaline every once in a while?