Top 5 sledding spots: Are highly-rated D.C. hills better than local favorites?


Annabel Redisch

With three snow days so far this year, I set out to find the best sledding slopes in the area.

By Jose Wray

Winter is in full swing, and students are reaping the benefits of the inclement weather: no school!

When I was little, I enjoyed most snow days sledding down local hills. Bundled in my puffy grey coat, I waddled outside to ride mountains of snow. But after looking online on sites like MapMuse, Mommy Nearest and Curbed DC, I was surprised to find that almost all of the highest rated hills are located in D.C.

I set out to discover if these hills were really better than local favorites.

5. Capitol Hill- 1st St SW, Washington, DC 20004

Annabel Redisch
Capitol Hill wasn’t really much of a hill. While this location offers historic scenery, its slopes are disappointing.

While sledding on Capitol Hill offered nice views of historic buildings and the awe-inspiring feeling of sledding in our nation’s capital, scenery was all that the hill had to offer. With too many kids zipping around the small space, I found it hard to find a path for myself. Once I was able to get a ride down the hill, the gradual slope wasn’t worth the hectic D.C. traffic and parking. Frankly, I’ve gotten more of a thrill on a neighborhood speed bump.

4. Book Hill Park- 1693 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

Annabel Redisch
Book Hill Park was overly crowded. This location had too many trees for a carefree ride.

Located in the heart of Georgetown, Book Hill Park is one of the most hyped up sled spots online. Unfortunately, it was really only hype. The steep hill offered a more exciting ride than Capitol Hill, but space was cramped and large grassy areas had been exposed by previous sledders. I had to manually steer myself away from bushes and trees, which had me thinking more about my own safety than the joy of the sledding.

3. Fort Bayard Park

Not too far away from the River Road McDonalds, this park offered a more cozy, communal feeling. Dogs frolicked about and kids played in the snow. There was enough space for everyone to sled without worry of crashing into each other. While the ride itself was not as thrilling as Book Hill, more free space allowed for different sledding areas in case a certain route became repetitious. I also found the park to be safer than Book Hill; the ride was a bit longer, giving me more time to analyze what I was heading toward and to make navigation adjustments accordingly.

2. South Carderock- Near Tomlinson Ave. and Barkwater Ct., Off Persimmon Tree Rd.

My childhood favorite spot, South Carderock brought back memories of Snowmageddon and coming home to hot chocolate after a long day at this hill. It’s pretty much Fort Bayard on steroids: it takes the relaxed, fun atmosphere of Fort Bayard but combines it with a thrilling hill that a true sledder would never get bored of riding. There’s an abundance of open space and room not only to sled, but also to enjoy a snowball fight at the bottom of the hill and in the adjacent playground. South Carderock wasn’t too crowded, which gave visitors enough room to claim an area and build jumps. While there is a tiny ditch at the bottom of the hill, I assure you there’s plenty of room to stop yourself from falling in.

1. Battery Kemble 3035 Chain Bridge Rd NW, Washington, DC 20016

Annabel Redisch
A steep slope makes Battery Kemble a thrilling ride.

Battery Kemble is a behemoth, an absolute unit. The crowd was massive, but with good reason; everyone wanted to ride the Himalayas of the DMV. Battery Kemble isn’t your average sledding hill, and you can tell by the crowds. The minivans with car seats that I saw parked by the other hills were replaced with poorly parked Jeep Wranglers and beat up Toyota 4Runners with high school sporting stickers. While some families were there sledding the smaller hills, the demographics changed as I neared the peak.

Riding from up top was like riding a roller coaster at Disneyworld for the first time; you have no clue what’s coming next. Farther down the hill, I started hitting remnants of the jumps that previous riders had left, making for unexpected surges of adrenaline on my adventure. When it comes to safety, there really isn’t much to worry about—just make sure not to hit sledders who are making their way up. Battery Kemble is definitely worth the 15-20 minute trip.

If big crowds and intense teenagers turn you away, then Battery Kemble might not be for you. But if you want an adventure and the best ride in the DMV, there’s nowhere else to go.