By Sally Turkovich
Sledding is one of those childhood activities we all do that gives us some awesome memories. Kids who grow up in Pittsburgh have access to some awesome hills for sledding. Jason Wright was one of those kids back in the 1980s. Now 33, Jason is a native Pittsburgher who grew up in Greenfield. I sat down with Jason to talk to him about his memories of sledding around the city and asked him to give Pittsburghers some recommendations about the best hills for sledding. These days, Jason is very active in the Pittsburgh cycling and mountain biking community. Frick Park is a second home to him because of its mountain biking trails so it’s no surprise that Frick Park’s Blue Slide Entrance on Beechwood Boulevard is the location of his favorite sledding hills when he was a kid.
Cost: free public city park
Hours: dawn to dusk
“We would walk about a mile from my house with our sleds when we had a snow day.” Jason told me. “We’d sled all day until we couldn’t feel our fingers and toes! There was a mini-mart by the park so we’d head over there to get some hot chocolate for the walk home.” This area of Frick Park is home to one long, steep hill with rolling drops and another one that was a bit calmer and shorter. Both start right along Beechwood Boulevard at the Blue Slide Entrance to Frick Park and go downhill into the park to end at the same spot. “The long, steep hill was definitely my favorite,” Jason said. “The amount of speed you could get going was crazy. You’d be freezing and then when you’d drop onto your sled and start down the hill, you’d forget all about the cold and just hang on and enjoy the ride.”
Hours: Dusk to dawn
As a kid, Jason would also drag his sleigh to Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park. Now home to “Cinema in the Park” during the summer, Flagstaff Hill was known for its quick, steep hill and its element of danger. Unlike the hills at Frick Park that ended in the park far away from roads and cars, the bottom of Flagstaff Hill dumps sledders onto busy Schenley Drive in the heart of Oakland. “We loved going down that hill because it was a challenge to make yourself stop before you got to the road. I remember hay bales lining the street and by the time we were all done sledding for the day, the hay would be all over the place and didn’t really stop anyone from going out onto the road.” Jason said that eventually sledding on Flagstaff Hill was off limits because of that element of danger so they really focused their sled riding time to Frick Park.
Cost: $16.50 for adults, $14.95 for children under 9 years old
Wednesday & Thursday Weekday Special: $14.50 for adults, $13 for children under 9 years old
Hours: varies, check website for details
As an adult, Jason admits that he doesn’t have much desire to sled anymore, but the snow tubing at a local recreation park in the North Hills known as Wildwood Highlands has a certain appeal. He visited the snow-tubing hill last winter with some friends and said it brought back some fun memories of sledding when he was a kid.
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Sally Turkovich lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, the aforementioned Jason, and German Shepherd, Zeus. By day she works as an eyewear stylist for an independent eye doctor. By night, she writes a twice-weekly column for Twoday Magazine. Catch up with her there at twodaymag.com