Alaska’s winters are perfect for sledding. It’s only natural that Anchorage has several great sledding hills throughout town; no matter where you are, the opportunity for a fast-paced snowy excursion isn’t far away.
Sledding is more than just a fun way to spend an afternoon. When done properly, it’s a social event. Sledding is an excuse to commune with friends, to laugh, to squeal and to love life in the face of the dark, depressing winter. Sledding is about simultaneously enjoying the outdoors, friends and life. If you happen to be screaming your lungs out while careening down an icy slope, all the better. But when you go sledding, definitely don’t do it alone.
Take Minnesota Drive to Raspberry Road and follow it until it ends. The main hill is by the chalet. One side of it is long, not very steep, and usually covered with small children; a good slope for families and racing. Those seeking more excitement should try the other side of the hill, which drops off steeply into a halfpipe-like trench.
Kincaid is right next to Cook Inlet, and the high winds sweep most of the snow away, resulting in icy slopes and sleds that refuse to be steered.
As all sledheads know, a truly great wipe-out is highly prized, and Kincaid offers one of the best opportunities for a jaw-dropping crash. Forming the other side of the trench is a tall berm of dirt, rocks and ice. Climbing to the top of this berm and walking to the end you will find a thin run that cuts through a gully, shoots between two trees, leads over a four-foot cliff and ends in the woods.
Extreme-Meter rating: 1 through 4
Take Abbot Road until you reach Service High School. Next to the school is a large, popular slope with a wide variety of runs. Farther from the road the hill gets steeper, with some nice jumps. The runs are short but the hill is wide, so there is plenty of room to get creative. In addition to battles, races and jumps, you can experiment with sledding formations. Link arms or legs to form trains and see if you can stay linked together down the hill and over jumps.
Extreme-Meter rating: 2 through 3
Russian Jack Springs Park
On Debarr Road, between Pine Street and Boniface Parkway, is an entrance to Russian Jack Springs Park, where you can find this expansive sledding complex. During the summer, it’s a wooded nine-hole golf course, but during the winter it’s transformed into a cross-country skiing headquarters and sprawling sledder’s paradise. This place is huge; go exploring. There are gentle grades for youngsters and more intense slopes for thrill-seeking sledheads, including jumps and runs through the trees. The large slopes are a double-edged sword: while they provide long, enjoyable rides, they also mean lengthy walks back to the top. It’s a good place for races, but watch out for the trees.
Extreme-Meter rating: 1 through 3
This is, quite simply, the ultimate sledding experience in the city. Bring a pillow.
Head north on the Glenn Highway. One and a half miles after Muldoon Road you’ll find the Arctic Valley exit. Drive for about two and a half miles, past Moose Run Golf Course. At the next turnoff, you will see mound of dirty ice that marks the end of the run. A designated driver will have to pick up sledders here, because the mile long hill is too long to walk back up. Two turnoffs later, another mound of dirty ice marks the start of the trail. Walk about a hundred yards down the trail and you will notice it gently start to slope. Appreciate the breathtaking view of the city for a moment, then saddle up and enjoy the most exhilarating sledding experience Anchorage has to offer.
Riders should beware the bushes lining the narrow run, which Arctic Valley survivors warn can suck sledders in.
There is a very specific way to ride this hill: Kneel on your pillow and lean forward, using your hands on the ground to steer. Anything else is asking for a sore back. The ride takes up to five minutes, and bumpy moguls last the entire way down. A few big turns add to the adventure. Expect to bail out a few times per run. Long plastic sleds tend to work best here, as they are easier to control and are generally tough enough to take the abuse of the constant moguls.
Extreme-meter rating: 5
The Extreme-Meter rating system:
5-Mountain Dew commercial