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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

We had a great snowfall in Chicago this weekend! And maybe you want to go sledding. Or your kids want to go sledding. Where do you go?  The Chicago Area Forest Preserves have a number of Sledding hills you can check out. Some are lighted and open until 10pm. Others are not lighted and only open til sunset. DuPage county also has sledding hills and other winter activities listed below Chicago Forest Preserve hills. Will County also has some great hills including the 40-foot long sledding hill at Goodenow Grove.

Check out the list of Cook County Forest Preserve hills below to see which ones are closest to you.

Cook County Forest Preserve Winter Activities-Click here for more info.

Sledding and Coasting

When snow conditions are suitable, the areas designated below are available for sledding and coasting.

Sledding and Coasting Hills With Lighting (Hours: 8 A.M. – 10 P.M.
Dan Ryan Woods
87th and Western Ave., Chicago

Swallow Cliff Woods
Route 83 and Mannheim Road, Palos Park

Caldwell Woods
Devon &; Milwaukee Avenues, Chicago
Deer Grove #5
Quentin Road, north of Dundee Road, Palatine

Westchester Woods
Cermak Road, east of LaGrange Road, Westchester

Sledding and Coasting Hills Without Lighting (Hours: 8 A.M. – sunset

Indian Hill Woods
16th Street & Edgewood Avenue, Chicago Heights

Pioneer Woods
107th Street, 1/2 mile west of LaGrange Road, Willow Springs

Indian Road Woods
Central Ave., 1/2 mile south of Caldwell Ave., Chicago

Schiller Woods
Irving Park and Cumberland Ave., Schiller Park

Deer Grove #4

Quentin Rd., north of Dundee Rd., Palatine

Public safety requires the closing of many Forest Preserve parking lots and driveways during the winter season. However, parking facilities involved with winter sports will be open daily.

Forest Preserve District of Cook County Sledding Hill Rules and Regulations

• Use of Forest Preserve District of Cook County sledding hills is a visitor’s own risk.
• Proper use of appropriate sledding devices which are in good repair and have no sharp edges is recommended.
• Use of skis, inflatable tubes, carpets, snowboards and metal-railed sleds is strictly prohibited.
• Unauthorized building of ramps, bumbs, moguls, hills or jumps out of a material or substance is strictly prohibited.
• Children under the age of 12 should wear a bicycle or multi-sport helmet and should be supervised by an adult.
• Sledding hills may be closed due to a lack of snow cover or for any other safety-related reason.
• Pets and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited on sledding hills.

DuPage Forest Preserve Winter Activities-Click here for more info.

Snow Tubing

The snow-tubing hill is located at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.

* The 800-foot run is open December through February on weekends and school holidays, except Dec. 25, when the hill is covered with 3 or more inches of snow.
* Participants must use District-rented inner tubes.
* Rentals, which are at the base of the hill, are $4 per tube per day (cash only).
* Updated hours of operation and snow conditions are available at (630) 871-6422.

Sledding and Ice Skating

Unless otherwise posted, the Forest Preserve District allows sledding and ice skating in all forest preserves.

* Neither sledding nor ice skating requires a permit or has an associated fee.
* Rangers do not monitor ice conditions.
* All ice-related activities are done at the user’s own risk.
* As a guideline, not a guarantee, a minimum of 4 inches of ice is recommended for any ice activity.
* Sledding is always prohibited at Mount Hoy at Blackwell Forest Preserve, the closed landfill sites at Greene Valley and Mallard Lake forest preserves and any slopes at Spring Creek Reservoir Forest Preserve.

Will County Sledding Hills-Click here for more info

Forked Creek Greenway (Wilmington)
Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve (Crete Township)

Goodenow Grove in Beecher provides a includes a 40-foot-high sledding hill. Sledding tubes can be rented at Plum Creek Nature Center, which is located near the sledding hill. Guests can also bring their own sleds, but no steel runners, snowboards, or steerables are allowed. Please also note that no dogs are allowed on the sledding hill. To check on sledding conditions at Goodenow Grove, call the Plum Creek Nature Center at 708.946.2216 or check the Winter Recreation Report during the winter season.

Lake County Forest Preserves

Sledding
Grab your sled and head out to the sled hill at Old School Forest Preserve or at the Lakewood Winter Sports Area. The hill at Lakewood is lighted and open until 9 p.m. every day that it is in operation. The sled hill at Old School is open until sunset every day when conditions allow. Note: no sleds with metal runners or snowboards, please.

Check back here for current conditions or call our Winter Sports Hotline at 847-968-3235. Click here for more info.

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By Sue Shekut, L.M.T. ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, & Owner, Working Well Massage

Winter is here which means more and more snow soon. If you don’t want to exercise inside, you can ski or sled or snowboard. What about outdoor exercise for hikers and those that don’t want to travel to downhill ski?  Snowshoeing is becoming a popular way to get some cardiovascular workouts and the Chicago area Forest Preserves area available all winter!

Don’t have  experience snowshoeing?  Read the following excerpt from the “First-Timers Guide to ShowShoeing” below from SnowShoeing Magazine to learn all you need to know to get started!

First-Timers Guide to Snowshoeing

There is no better way to begin snowshoeing than just going and doing it. Take a risk, rent or buy a pair of snowshoes, dress for the elements and enjoy. However, that’s just a start – there is more to it than just taking a refreshing plunge in some snow.

Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years. And, obviously, the art of snowshoeing has become more sophisticated over time – now it’s considered a winter sport. From the early wood-frame to the aluminum-frame models, snowshoeing has garnered quite a following throughout the world. Modern day snowshoeing is made up of casual snowshoers who hike trails for pleasure, the snowshoeing enthusiasts who trek through the backcountry, and the competitors who race.

Considering this is the fastest growing winter sport in the world (snowboarding is growing fast too, but not fast enough), snowshoeing is poised to become a monster of a market. Many involved in skiing and snowboarding utilize snowshoes to participate in some great backcountry hikes to find the holy grail of mother nature: Deep, unscathed powder. Snowshoeing is a great alternative for many sports – especially those who like running.

What’s So Great About Snowshoeing?

The sport is easy to learn, virtually inexpensive (compared to other winter sports), poses little risk of injury and is a great way to exert energy during the cold winter months. According to research provided by Snowsports Industries America (SIA), 40.8 percent of snowshoers are women (a number that is increasing rapidly), 9.4 percent of snowshoers are children (ages 7-11), and 44.2 percent of snowshoers are ages 25-44.

shoe5

SnowShowing burns more claories than walking or running. Image from SnowShowing Magainze

One of the more appealing facts about snowshoeing is how it can help enrich a person’s health. Known to help maintain or improve cardiovascular fitness, the sport helps burn more than 600 calories per hour. Snowshoers can burn more than 45 percent more calories than walking or running at the same speed, according to SIA. Snowshoeing is a great way to pursue losing weight.

What to Look For in a Pair of Snowshoes?

When buying or renting a pair snowshoes, keep in mind the following details:
There are three types of snowshoes available: Recreational Hiking, Aerobic/Fitness and Hiking/Backpacking.
• Recreational hiking snowshoes are a basic selection and are perfect for first-timers. Usually, these snowshoes work best on simple terrain that doesn’t require a lot of steep climbing or descents.
Snowshoes for aerobic/fitness are best suited for those who are active snowshoers – like runners and cross-trainers. This type of snowshoe has a very sleek design and is generally tougher than most available.

Snowshoeing at The Basin Phippsburg 08

Snowshoeing. Image from outdoors.mainetoday.com

• If you like the powder and are more experienced with snowshoeing, purchasing a pair of hiking/backpacking snowshoes is your ticket. These are as tough as they come: Strong aluminum frame, durable material for flotation, and bindings that support all types of boots.

• The cost for a pair of snowshoes is generally inexpensive. Look to spend on the low-end around $100 and on the high-end around $300 (sometimes higher depending on the manufacturer).

grnshoe

Northlites Snowshow from northernlites.com

• Many retailers will offer a package deal that will provide poles and a snowshoe bag. These are generally good deals, but pay particular attention to the type of snowshoe you will be receiving. If you want to do some backcountry snowshoeing, a starter kit won’t be the best option. Ask your retailer for more details.

• It is highly advised not to purchase a used pair of snowshoes. If you decide to go through with buying a used pair, inspect them thoroughly: Check the frames for damage (including chips), check the bindings for overstress and check the flotation material for holes and rips. Know who you are buying your snowshoes from. Don’t get caught in the backcountry with a faulty pair of shoes.

• Finally, as one of the most important factors in snowshoeing, choose according to the size available. Usually measured in inches, the length will depend upon how much you weigh. The most common sizes (excluding kids lengths) are 25 inches, 30 inches and 36 inches. Your retailer should be able to help you when deciding snowshoe length.

Where to Buy or Rent a Pair of Snowshoes?

There are plenty of snowshoe retailers to choose from. However, there are more obvious choices than others. For example, REI and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) sell snowshoes around the nation – they are the obvious retailers. The less obvious retailers are independent stores that may include equipment for running and local mountain outfitters.

If you really want a nice selection of shoes to purchase from a retailer, visit Backcountry.com: Click here. Backcountry.com is the place to buy not only snowshoes but accessories as well. They also have great prices on certain brands, models and snowshoe starter kits.

Where Should You Go Snowshoeing?

If it’s covered in snow…go for it!But, be careful. Don’t take risks and most importantly, have fun.

The prime areas for snowshoeing are at nordic centers, which are usually placed in or around a ski resort. Other types of snowshoeing destinations include bed and breakfast inns, mountain lodges, state parks, national parks, snow-covered golf courses, open space (provided by your state government), ski slopes, and much more.

Although many people like the individuality and peacefulness of snowshoeing, it’s a good idea to snowshoe with a friend or partner. And, bring a global positioning system (GPS) device and a compass to help better navigate remote and wooded areas.

Please note: Remember to bring plenty of water or a water filter on your snowshoe travels.

Read entire article from the “First-Timers Guide to ShowShoeing” below from SnowShoeing Magazine here.

What Type of SnowShoes Do I Use?

I recently bought a new pair of snowshoes from Amazon.com and plan to hit the trails as soon as there is more snow!
I bought the Pacific Outdoors Optima 10-by-32 Snowshoes

Pacific Outdoors Optima 10-by-32 Snowshoes

Available here from Amazon for about $78.00

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