Lately I have done some extensive topographical research here in the greater Boston area. My research question: Where is the best sledding hill?
We may have a winner: Peter’s Hill in Arnold Arboretum, down in the Jamaica Plain area, is an incredibly long hill with a big treeless swath. It’s definitely the biggest hill around, though you have to drive to get there, and there’s a footpath at the bottom, which can get a little bumpy; fortunately, walkers seem pretty good-natured about sledders skidding across the path every now and then. Also, from the very top, there’s a nice view of the Boston skyline (above).
See? Pretty sizeable hill. (This was taken from the end of a run, across the path at the bottom.) A few more inches of snow would have made it perfect – it was pretty hard-packed and getting icy underneath when we sledded there.
At the top, looking down; the hill gets steeper about halfway down, so we started at the top to get warmed up, bailing out before the shallower grade got steeper. (Above: bailing out, intentionally. My little sled is excellent at staying upright and not tipping its passenger sideways. It lacks steering, however.)
A good second choice – and much closer to those of us in Cambridge/Somerville – is the hill at Danehy Park, near the track. It’s smaller than Peter’s Hill, but you can still get some good speed before the bottom. It, too, has a path near the bottom, but if there’s enough snow, as there was after the most recent blizzard, you go right over.
Third, there’s the hill on the Tufts campus, on Professors Row. It’s the smallest and least steep of the three sledding hills, and it ends in an iron gate. (The hill does flatten out quite a bit at the end, so you are highly unlikely to make it all the way to the gate.) It was a little disappointing; Danehy is the better choice in this area.
Of course, if you can make it out to Western Mass., or are already located there, there’s the legendary hill on the Amherst campus. It may not be as tall as Peter’s Hill, but it ends in a field (baseball? soccer? I played frisbee there once), and it’s a straight shot down – no bumps or lumps that I recall. If you’re feeling brave, you can go down the terracing also, but I’d only recommend that if your sitting-parts and spine happen to be made of rubber, which, if you’re human, chances are they’re not.
Looks like we’ve got 13.4 inches of snow on the way – this according to Accuweather – so happy sledding!
What I’m reading: Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
What I’m listening to: And Out Come the Wolves, Rancid; Spanish with Michel Thomas; Jason Nichols