Kyle Wegner doesn’t have to trudge far to get to his favorite winter stomping ground. His family lives near the top of the Power Hill Park sledding hill in Chanhassen. The sophomore at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities has been gliding down it for most of his life.
“It started with my family when I was 3,” Wegner says. “I would sled down with my parents, and they would pull me back up.”
Wegner’s allegiance to Power Hill isn’t just about location. “It takes 30 or 40 seconds to get down,” he explains. “You might only go down four or five times with friends because it takes so much energy to walk back up." Wegner says sledding with friends makes any hill shine. “The most important thing isn’t the hill itself, but the people you’re with,” he says.
Other slippery slopes in the area include Staring Lake Park (Eden Prairie), Marsh Halberg Sliding Hill (Chaska), Lake Waconia Regional Park and Carver Park Reserve (Victoria).
Few sledding hills in the Twin Cities get more love from the media than the one in Staring Lake Park. Folks of all ages flock to the park to take the long plunge down the 700-foot, lighted hill.
“Many people go to the sledding hill, but it’s not so overused,” says Nicole Weedman, senior recreation supervisor for Eden Prairie Parks. “It’s a location that young families can bring their smaller kids and feel safe going down the hill. If you go there some day after school, you’re not going to have to fight crowds.”
The park has a staffed warming house with a fireplace to cozy up to after a day of sledding, as well as restrooms. Plastic sleds are allowed; ones with metal runners, skis and snowboards are not.
“They redid [the hill] a few years ago and smoothed it out, so there aren’t as many bumps,” Weedman says. Hours are weather dependent, she says. For safety reasons, the city waits for a 6–12 inch base of snow—typical for sledding and ski hills—before opening it. The park also has a skating rink, cross-country ski trails and plenty of parking.
Staring Lake Park
14800 Pioneer Trail; 952.934.7120 (warming house); 952.949.8449 Option 1 (city weather line); edenprairie.org. If the weather cooperates, the hill and warming house open for extended hours—1–8 p.m. Dec. 22–Jan. 2, the holiday break for Eden Prairie School District. Otherwise, hours are 4–8 p.m. Monday–Friday, 1–8 p.m. Saturday and 1–5 p.m. Sunday.
Power Hill Park is just one of five official sledding hills in the city. Jerry Ruegemer, recreation superintendent for Chanhassen Parks, says what the city offers is “bare bones, basically hills.”
There are no warming houses, lights, tow ropes back up the hill or staff on hand. But, the hills do get frequent use, especially Power Hill, which Ruegemer estimates to be about 300 feet of a slide.
“Power Hill is the main, designated one; the others are kind of in parks themselves,” he says.
“We maintain as needed, getting out there routinely making sure we break down jumps and stuff like that,” Ruegemer says. The city recommends using sleds, but not inner tubes, saucers and discs, since they are difficult to control.
Power Hill Park // 8702 Flamingo Drive
Kerber Pond Park // 7380 Kerber Blvd.
North Lotus Lake Park // 295 Pleasant View Road
Riley Ridge Park // 8985 Reflections Road
Stone Creek Park // 2250 Stone Creek Lane E.
Lake Waconia Regional Park has an 80-foot hill with two runs offering different sledding experiences. One is smooth and straight, the other more rugged and undulating. In all, riders travel about 150 to 200 yards. It doesn’t have a warming house, but restrooms are nearby.
Snowboards, skis, toboggans and metal runner sleds are not allowed.
Sam Pertz, Carver County parks and trails supervisor, says weather conditions are gauged daily to determine opening or closing of the hill. It is one of the several parks operated by the Carver County Parks Department. “We try to keep it open as best as we can, but truthfully, it gets to be tough to maintain because the way it’s positioned and the sun hitting it and poor winter conditions,” Pertz says. "It will get icy quick, so we have to shut it down. But in good conditions and warmer days, there could be 75 to 100 cars down there on a Saturday."
Lake Waconia Regional Park//8170 Paradise Lane
When enough snow is on the ground, the hill is open from 9 a.m. to sunset daily. $5/daily vehicle fee, $25/annual fee
In the Carver Park Reserve, just outside the entrance to the Lowry Nature Center, rests a sledding hill ideal for all ages. The center rents plastic sleds and sells hot cocoa. It also serves as a warming house with restrooms. Skis, snowboards and tubes aren’t allowed. Three Rivers Park District operates the reserve.
“I don’t know the height and length of the hill, unfortunately since I’ve never been asked that and I have I have never measured,” says Allison Neaton, supervisor for the nature center. “I would say that it is a ‘family-friendly size.’”
Lowry Nature Center // 7025 Victoria Drive
9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Saturday; noon–5 p.m. Sunday
King of the Mountain
Marsh Halberg helped save Chaska hill for future generations.
On a snowy day, the Marsh Halberg Sliding Hill in the Jonathan Association neighborhood of Chaska bustles with activity. Tots through adults stand at the top bundled in snow gear, eagerly waiting their turn down the steep slope. An echoed din of whooshing sleds and kids laughing flutters in the air like snowflakes.
Even on the chilliest of days, the picturesque winter setting warms the heart of the hill’s namesake—Marsh Halberg. After all, he was instrumental in saving the hill from development. A sign bearing his name has stood at the summit of the hill since 2001.
The Marsh Halberg Sliding Hill was named after him in recognition of his years of civic involvement with the Jonathan Association. The lawyer, who moved to Jonathan in the late-1970s, served for a time as the association's president and volunteered his legal services to it for about 30 years.
Naming the hill after him “was a pleasant surprise,” says Halberg. “I couldn’t pick a better thing to have my name on because it tied the whole concept of being creative with land and planning for families.”
Nestled on the corner of Bavaria and Hundertmark roads, the hill is a 250-foot or so ride down, Halberg estimates, and is maintained by the association. The draw is the hill itself; it has no warming house or lights illuminating it; the only frills are a couple of benches. “I inaugurated it,” he says. “I was the first sled down after the sign went up.”
Empty nesters Halberg and his wife, JoAnn, moved from Jonathan about a year ago to rural Independence.
The sledding hill might not be down the road anymore, but Halberg remains involved with the Jonathan Association. In time, he thinks the hill could use a “little blacktop at the top” to ease cars parking along Bavaria.
“This is something where all you need is a piece of cardboard. You can have a ball on an afternoon in the winter, and you don’t need any money or equipment to do it,” he says.
For more information on Marsh Halberg Sliding Hill, call the Jonathan Association at 952.922.5575.
Special thanks to the Bush family (mom, Kate and kids, top photo from left, Hanna, Ellie, Dunavan and Henry) for modeling for this story at their sledding hill in Stone Creek Park.