Sledding – the ancient activity of sitting on your butt and getting over the snow far more efficiently than most wheeled vehicles. Today, unless you live in an arctic landscape, sledding or tobogganing is primarily a recreational sport enjoyed by all ages. After a fresh snowfall, who doesn’t relish pulling out their sled and running down a couple hilly side streets before the plows come around?
However, in recent years, snow in town has been scarce, and popular sledding places like Manito Park in Spokane and Cherry Hill in Coeur d’Alene have been patchy and slushy at best. This year, we went outside the box and tracked down some fun sledding spots that will take you out of town and into the majestic mountains of the Inland Northwest.
Schweitzer Mountain’s Hermits Hollow is a snow-tubing center and is open Friday through Sunday. Silver Mountain and Mt. Spokane also have tubing hills with rope tows to pull you back to the top. In fact, one of Mt. Spokane’s hills is designed specifically for kids – the Children’s Choice Tubing Hill. See each resort’s website for rates and ticket information.
Round Lake State Park, located just 10 miles south of Sandpoint, accommodates a 1,000-foot run down to the lake, a popular place for local sled activity. The park stays open all winter for ice fishing and camping, if you’re willing to brave the winter weather. There is a $5 motorized vehicle entry fee for the park, or you can purchase a parking pass through Idaho State Parks and Recreation.
Farragut State Park, just off Hwy 95 on the way to Sandpoint, is another fantastic place to sled. Its sledding area is at the northeastern side of the park and was formerly a large amphitheater that hosted Bob Hope and received a call from the Apollo astronauts in orbit. Again, a motorized vehicle entry fee is required to enter the park. However, if you live in Idaho and plan on visiting multiple state parks this winter and next summer, consider purchasing a $10 Passport the next time you renew your license plate. For a small fee, you can gain access to a wealth of invaluable outdoor experiences. For more info about these and other parks: Parksandrecreation.idaho.gov
Lookout Pass and Wallace
While Lookout Pass Ski Area doesn’t offer tubing or sledding at the resort, there are some good hills just across the pass, as you return to I-90. The trail that winds up this hill is popular with snowmobile enthusiasts, but there are a few spots that could be great for sledding. If you’re up for it, you could even snowshoe up to the Lookout Pass Communications Facility and sled down a couple of sweet hills just off the main trails.
Finally, the Wallace Chamber of Commerce sometimes grooms a few sled runs in the mountains surrounding the town. However, City Council President Chase Sanborn states that the Chamber of Commerce won’t be grooming any hills this year in anticipation of a snow shortage. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Close to Coeur d’Alene
Although there aren’t any solid, tree-free sledding hills on 4th of July Pass, Fernan Mountain might be an alternative, if you’re desperate and there is enough snow. The parking lots for both the Canfield Backside and Fernan Saddle have small hills that could work for sledding, but because the trails in these areas are popular with snowmobilers, it is best to avoid these spots on holidays and weekends, especially between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. //
No matter where you go to sled, always remember to check the location’s website for weather conditions, bring warm and dry clothing, and, if you are on ungroomed hills in the mountains, be aware of avalanche areas. If you are sledding in a new area, make sure there are no roads, rocks, stumps, cliffs, holes or other hazards below a sledding run. Stay safe and have fun out there!