This guide features info not just from park districts and forest preserves, but personal recommendations from Go West readers, as well. If you have more suggestions, please put them in the comments section!
- The Geneva Park District has an “Outdoor Ice Complex” in Wheeler Park off Route 31. There are actually three sheets of ice there – one for general skating and two for ice hockey. Both are free to the public to use, weather permitting. Plus there is a warming shelter available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and on school holidays. Lights are available until 10 p.m. daily. Concessions are available when the warming shelter is open. There is also be ice skating available in the Mill Creek Pool parking lot, weather permitting. To make sure the rinks are open, call 630-232-4542. You can also check this page.
- The St. Charles Park District has outdoor ice rinks at Timber Trails, Davis Park, Lincoln Park and Langum Park, with the park at Langum reserved for ice hockey only. The rinks are open daily until 9 p.m., weather and ice conditions permitting. You can call for updated recorded daily updates: 630-513-4320.
- The city of Elgin offers an outdoor refrigerated ice rink called “City Skate.” It’s located on Civic Center Plaza, between the Hemmens Cultural Center and City Hall. City Skate is free and is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through March 5, 2017; ice skate rental is available for $4 with ID but is only available when the warming shelter is open. Click here for more info, including the warming shelter hours, or call 847-931-6140 for updates on hours and ice conditions. This is a refrigerated skating system, and it is scheduled to stay open til March 5, 2017.
- The Wheaton Park District offers a number of ice rinks, including lighted rinks at Seven Gables, Rathje Park, C.L. Herrick Park, Northside Park and the Central Athletic Complex. Those are open from dawn to 10 p.m. daily, except for the Central Athletic Complex, which is open from a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. There is also an unlighted rink at Bestler’s Pond, which is open from dawn to dusk. Call 630-260-6430 ex. 2 for 24-hour information about skating conditions or visit the park district’s status updates page. You can find more info, including addresses for the rinks, here.
- The Batavia Park District maintains a skating rink on Depot Pond in downtown, near the Riverwalk. To check skating conditions and whether skate rental is available, call 630-879-5235.
- The Fox Valley Park District maintains three outdoor skating rinks. They are at the Eola Community Center (one for hockey, one for general skating); and general skating rinks at Wilbert Walters Park, Lincoln Park and Randall Park. Rinks are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk as conditions permit. Updates on skating conditions are posted up top on the park district’s home page as well as on its Facebook page, featured in the right side of its website.
- Several readers mentioned Harris Hill, in the Harris Forest Preserve in Yorkville on Route 71. Christina Messersmith says “it’s just plain huge!” and Debbie Koutny notes “It even has stairs!”
- Several readers are fans of “Windmill Hill” in Geneva, located in the Fabyan Forest Preserve at the corner of Route 25 and Fabyan Road. Amanda Abel notes that it features a wide open hill with few trees, although her son “still manages to aim for them!” Plus, you get an honest-to-goodness windmill thrown in to make it as picturesque a setting as you could ask for.
- In St. Charles, the park district says sledding is encouraged at Langum Park, facing Route 25, and at Timber Trails Park on North 19th Street, although you will sled off 17th Street. Call 630-513-4320 for daily recorded updates; sometimes the hills are closed due to icy conditions. Sledding is not permitted in Pottawatomie Park.
- For those looking for sledding options in Aurora, Phillips Park has a sledding hill, and Valerie says when you get cold, you can head across the street to Gario’s Pizza for games and the fireplace. Aurora native Lisa Manning says the park she grew up sledding in – and now takes her kids to – is Lincoln Park, which is on the west side of the Fox River south of Galena Boulevard. She says there’s a good hill right off Harrison Street, at the edge of Lincoln Park, that is particularly easy one for little kids.
- Also in the Aurora area, the Fox Valley Park District says to enjoy views of the Fox River on the way down, launch from the Prisco Community Center parking lot at 150 W. Illinois Avenue into McCullough Park. The sled area in Waubonsie Lake Park, at Montgomery and Kautz roads, is rated as intermediate. And if you’re looking for a fast and steep hill, check out Oakhurst Forest Preserve on Fifth Avenue, just west of Kautz Road, which is maintained by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County.
- The Oswegoland Park District in previous years has said it has sled hills at Chesterfield Park, Deerbrook Park, Ogden Falls Park, Northampton Park, Prairie Point Community Park and Community Park at Grande Park. (I can’t find an update page for this year, so let me know if any of these parks are now off-limits for sledding.)
- The Wheaton Park District offers a sledding hill at Northside Park, at the north end of West Street. It also features a warming shelter with limited concessions.
- Jennifer recommends the hill across from Wasco Nursery, part of the Campton Forest Preserve she believes. “Beautiful scenery and a pretty fast hill!”
- I’ve read that Randall Oaks Park in West Dundee has a good sledding hill.
- Jennifer recommends Newton Park in Glen Ellyn.
- Autumn says Veterans Acres Park in Crystal Lake has “different hill extremes for the daring or the leery. Lots of trails to snowshoe or hike, too.”
- For those of you who might have family you visit in north-central Illinois, Becky Stindt says you just have to check out Sinnissippi Park in Sterling. “A good hill with a creek at the bottom, so it’s breaks, bail or get very wet! So much fun as a kid.”
- Several readers recommend the sledding hill in Elburn at Johnson’s Mound, part of the Kane County Forest Preserve. Lori says it’s a “long hill” and just “beautiful.” (Another reader said it is narrow and fast, probably best for older kids.)
SNOW TUBES, SNOW SHOES AND CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING:
- If you’re looking for something a bit different, you can rent inner tubes to use on the snow-tubing hill at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville. Rentals are just $5 per day (cash only). Call 630-871-6422 for update on hours and weather conditions. Note that rentals are available only on weekends and school holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and when 3 or more inches of snow covers the hill.
- Morton Arboretum in Lisle rents snow shoes for adults and kids in its Visitor Center — makes for a great way to explore the grounds.
- The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County says cross-country skiing is allowed on most of the individual trails in the forest preserves. Find more info here. For info on trail conditions, call the Outdoor Report at 630-871-6422.