In Kingsport, when the snow falls and blankets our beautiful landscape the scene is right out of a 19th century picture postcard minus the horse drawn carriages: snow-covered front lawns, trees and roofs dripping with crystalize ice, and snow-covered hills.
It’s a snow day! For children, a snow day means that school is canceled for the day. For adults, if you’re lucky, so is work.
What do Kingsport natives do when we find ourselves with an unexpected snow day vacation day? We get outside and enjoy the day. We build snow forts, have snowball fights, take our dogs out for a run in a snow maze, and make snow angels.
We also take advantage of the previously mentioned rolling hills just like folks did back in the 19th century. We go sledding!
Let’s Be Safe Out There
Sledding is fun. Everyone participates: young and old. So, put away your electronic devices, bundle-up, and get out in the snow and have some old-fashioned fun playing on our famous hills.
Before you do, here are some safety tips to ensure injury free sledding:
- Sled in an open area with no obstacles like rocks, trees, fences, posts or other obstructions.
- Choose an open sledding site that ends in a flat clearing. Never sled down a slope that ends near a road or stream.
- Never sled on a roadway.
- Sled only in the daytime.
- Children 15-years-old and younger should be supervised by parents while sledding.
- Sit upright with your feet first, facing forward to reduce the likelihood of a head injury.
- Never ride on a sled behind a car, all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile.
- Wear a helmet.
Everyone should wear a helmet, but it’s especially important for children to wear one. Although helmets aren’t required by law yet, according to the National Institute of Health, sledding represents 9% of all brain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) with individual trauma centers reporting up to 37% of TBIs from this recreational activity. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children wear helmets when sledding.
Dude! Where’s My Sled?
You can use items like an inner tube, cardboard, an air mattress, a laundry basket, a baby bathtub, a cat litter box or a dog carrier.
Channel your inner MacGyver and make your own sled using a cardboard box, a garbage bag and duct tape.
For more DIY sled ideas check out this list from our local news station WJHL.
A Hill To Sled On
Okay, we now know how to stay safe and we have our sled. Where are the best places to go sledding?
We are blessed to live in a hilly area with lots of prime sledding places. The Ridgefields neighborhood has many prime sledding hills that attract the locals. Remember you cannot sled on private property.
Legally, you may sled in one of our many public parks. Each of our Kingsport neighborhoods has a local park, choose a park that has a small or large incline and lots of open space.
The most popular park for sledding is Warriors’ Path State Park. According to park ranger, Jane Switzer, people are welcome to sled anywhere in the park (be mindful of the safety tips mentioned earlier) and many residents sled at the golf course. There is no sledding allowed on the roadways.
Ranger Switzer said that all visitors intending to sled in the park should park their vehicles in the parking lot and not in the roadway, then walk to the hills of their choice.
Holston Valley Broadcasting radio news producer, John Goddard, told us about his memories of sledding as a child at Warriors’ Path State Park:
“As a young child, we had some pretty heavy snows. My Aunt Donna would take us sledding at Warriors’ Path State Park. Our spot was located next to the top of the picnic area looking down over the marina. The bottom of the large hill ended right where the road intersects to head across to Duck Island.
I can remember spending what seemed like hours walking up and sledding down that hill. I was maybe eight years old. I would wear myself out sledding down that hill and then hiking back up it time after time.
I remember using an orange 2-person plastic sled with blue handles. They were inexpensive.
They would last one winter, then, if they were still somewhat in usable shape, they would be stored and used as a vessel the next fall for us to haul leaves in from the back yard to the street.
After sledding, we would always get a Pal’s sauce burger and fries and then, when we got home, some hot cocoa. I was blessed to have a very fulfilling childhood.”
What a wonderful memory. You can make some great sledding memories of your own on our next snow day in Kingsport.
Whether you find the perfect sledding hill in your own backyard or a public park, remember to be safe. Happy sledding!