Suburbs abound with sledding, tubing, boarding options
There's a reason Mount Hoy near Warrenville is often listed among the top hot spots for suburban winter fun.
"Bigger is better," said Sue Olafson, spokeswoman for the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. "The faster you can go, the better it is."
Rising more than 830 feet, it doesn't get much bigger when it comes to suburban hills -- ones that call out to every fan of riding a coat of snow and ice at high velocity.
Once upon a time, Mount Hoy was a landfill.
"We've really morphed into a great place for families to come and just have a whole day of fun," Olafson said.
The surrounding Blackwell Forest Preserve that plays host to Mount Hoy also offers cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating and ice fishing.
But it's the tubing experience that draws most people to Mount Hoy. Multiple videos on YouTube show the park and the gliding, spinning, speedy run down the hill to the sounds of wind whipping at your ears and "Woo-hoo" shouts and giggles from the participants. One reviewer on Yelp.com even describes the preserve as "definitely my happy place."
Mount Hoy rents out tubes. A cash-only payment of $5 gets you a tube and unlimited runs for the entire day.
But Mount Hoy isn't the only option for winter fun in the area.
There are more than a dozen major hills of various shapes, sizes and settings in the area to test out your winter sports gear.
If tobogganing is your thing, Caboose Park in Lake Villa has one of the few remaining shoots in the area. Many park districts and forest preserve districts ban the use of wooden sleds or sleds with metal runners because they tend to be involved in many of the sledding mishaps.
If you're looking for a place where you can drop the kids off, the sled hill by Schaumburg's Meinke Recreation Center is known as a kid-friendly sled environment. Adults can get a day pass at the recreation center and stay warm or work out until the kids are done sledding. The hill and rec center are also near Schaumburg's many restaurants and shops.
If you don't want to travel for snacks, Naperville's Rotary Hill has a snack shop adjacent to the sled hill. Or, if snowboarding is your thing, and you don't want to pay to do it, Randall Oaks Park in West Dundee welcomes snowboarding.
Best sledding, tubing in the 'burbsMount Hoy, Blackwell Forest Preserve, Warrenville
• 800-foot hill • No sleds, rental tubing only ($5, cash only) • Open weekends and school holidays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Caboose Park, Lake Villa Township, 27908 Fairfield Road
• Hill available for sledding and has one of area's few toboggan chutes • Lit from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Century Park, Vernon Hills, 1001 Lakeview Parkway
• Bears Running Back Matt Forte has used it for training • Warming shelter, restrooms nearby at North Pavilion
Deer Grove Forest Preserve, Palatine
• Two hills for sledding • Biggest hill allows for enough speed to stop just before a lake • Preserve is well-known for its large deer population
Fabyan Forest Preserve, Geneva
• Enter off Route 25 or Route 31, north of Fabyan Parkway • Check out the historic windmills and Fox River nearby • Open until 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and holidays
Johnson's Mound, 41W600 Hughes Road, near Elburn
• Highest point for several surrounding miles; great view • Hill rises up 200 feet • One of the first three forest preserves in Kane County
Lakewood Forest Preserve, Wauconda, Fairfield and Ivanhoe Roads
• Lights for evening sledding • Steep hill allows for good speed, but plenty of flat area at the bottom to slow down • Restrooms atop the hill
Meineke Recreation Center, 220 E. Weathersfield Way, Schaumburg
• Near renovated recreation building for warming up • Parents can get a day pass to the rec center and workout while kids use the sled hill
North Salk Park, 3160 Owl Drive, Rolling Meadows
• Hill has steps to make climbing back up easier • Hill is lit in the evenings • Flag system lets you know when it is safe to sled
Randall Oaks Park, 1180 N. Randall Road, West Dundee
• Right next to a petting zoo • Snowboards welcome
Riverwalk Sled Hill, Rotary Hill, Naperville
• Wooden and metal-runner sleds not permitted • Open until 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays