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posted: 2/10/2010 12:01 AM

Make the snow work for you at area sled hills

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  • 7-year-old Riley Boer of Aurora shows nice form as he maintains verticality on his snowboard at Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve in Elburn Monday.

      7-year-old Riley Boer of Aurora shows nice form as he maintains verticality on his snowboard at Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve in Elburn Monday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


Lots of fresh snow and more on the way mean just one thing for suburban kids - sledding! Here are some of our favorite local spots.

Blackwell Forest Preserve

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Butterfield Road west of Winfield Road, near Warrenville

Why it's great: $4 rents you a tube to use all day on the 800-foot run.

What to watch out for: Open only on weekends and school holidays; hill closes at 4 p.m. and tube rental ends at 3:30 p.m.

Rules: Don't bring your own tube - you have to rent. No sleds.

Other amenities: Cross-country skiers can use groomed trails, and you might spot dog sledders on designated trails.

Caboose Park

27908 Fairfield Road, near Lake Villa

Why it's great: In addition to a sizable hill, Caboose Park has one of the area's few toboggan chutes.

What to watch out for: People climbing up in the center of the hill, not the sides.

Rules: Don't build jumps and ramps.

Other amenities: Lighted until 10 p.m.

Proximity to hot chocolate: A short drive east in Lake Villa.

Deer Grove Forest Preserve

Quentin Road north of Dundee Road, Palatine

Why it's great: This hill no longer rents toboggans to go down chutes, but still has a sled run that ends over icy Deer Grove Lake for a l-o-o-ng ride.

What to watch out for: Chunks of ice at the bottom.

Rules: No skis, inflatable tubes, carpets, snowboards or metal-rail sleds. Kids under 12 need a helmet and adult supervision.

Other amenities: Open until 10 p.m. with lights.

Proximity to hot chocolate: Caribou Coffee, 581 E. Dundee Road (just west of Rand Road), is a short drive away

Fabyan Forest Preserve

Entrances on Route 25 and Route 31 north of Fabyan Parkway, near Geneva

Why it's great: Spectacular setting with a historic Dutch windmill and the Fox River as backdrops.

What to watch out for: Don't look here for solitude, though the wide hill accommodates crowds well.

Other amenities: Lighted on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Proximity to hot chocolate: With the park sandwiched between Geneva and Batavia, sustenance is a short drive away.

Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve

41W600 Hughes Road, Elburn

Why it's great: A long, steep hill makes for fast sledding and snowboarding, often with a few homemade ramps.

What to watch out for: Not the best choice for small children.

Other amenities: Warming house, sometimes with a fire.

Proximity to hot chocolate: Take a thermos - the vicinity remains semi-rural.

Lakewood Forest Preserve

Fairfield and Ivanhoe roads, near Wauconda

Why it's great: The pretty, wooded setting will make you feel like you're in a Norman Rockwell painting until your first trip down this death-defying, steep run.

What to watch out for: It's a long walk back up; a handrail helps. Can get crowded; arrive while the snow is fresh.

Rules: No snowboards or sleds with metal runners

Other amenities: Lighted until 9 p.m.; a small skating pond is near the parking area.

Proximity to hot chocolate: A short drive west in Wauconda

Meineke Recreation Center

220 E Weathersfield Way, Schaumburg

Why it's great: A kid-friendly hill with plenty of space.

What to watch out for: Afternoon sun heats up the west-facing hill and it can get icy, which some say adds to the fun.

Other amenities: Meineke Recreation Center next door offers a place to warm up or for parents to work out while older kids sled.

Proximity to hot chocolate: It's Schaumburg - restaurants are everywhere.

North Salk Park

3160 Owl Drive, Rolling Meadows

Why it's great: Family friendly, with steps for the climb back up.

What to watch out for: Little tykes lingering at the bottom.

Rules: No sledding if a red flag is posted; yellow flag means use caution.

Other amenities: Lighted in the evenings.

Proximity to hot chocolate: The sled hill's right in town, so plenty of options are close by.

Randall Oak Park

1180 N. Randall Road, West Dundee

Why it's great: A good, fast ride but not too intimidating for younger kids.

What to watch out for: Crowds on weekends.

Rules: Snowboarding is allowed.

Other amenities: Scenic, wooded setting near a historic schoolhouse.

Proximity to hot chocolate: McDonald's, Wendy's, Culver's, Garibaldi's and more are less than a half mile away.

Rotary Hill

Riverwalk north of Aurora Avenue and west of Eagle Street, Naperville

Why it's great: The steepest point in the city, but not too scary for little kids.

What to watch out for: Popular spot gets crowded after fresh snow. Rules: No skiing, snowboarding or metal-railed sleds.

Other amenities: Carillon rings every hour so you don't have an excuse to get home late; downtown Naperville location gives parents good shopping options while older kids sled.

Proximity to hot chocolate: Snack shop adjacent to hill.

Veterans Acres

Route 176 and Walkup Road, Crystal Lake

Why it's great: Two hills (made by glaciers, not bulldozers) offer serious sledding.

What to watch out for: Your hat - these hills are fast and steep.

Other amenities: Ice skating; a warming house; lights on one hill at night.

Proximity to hot chocolate: Downtown Crystal Lake is minutes away.

• Daily Herald staff contributed to this report

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