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Sledders make tracks to an old haunt: New Parking area at Sledding Hill Park fills quickly

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By Matt Gunn

While last week’s storms may have been a burden for those traveling the area’s slick roads, the blanket of snow was a welcome sight to sledding enthusiasts.

Sledding Hill Park was busy in the days following Christmas, thanks to two winter storms that brought more than 8 inches of new snow to the area. For many, the visit was their first chance to make tracks this season.

Another first, at least for those who visited the park at South Kipling Street and West Ken Caryl Avenue, was the chance to use a new parking lot that was installed last spring.

“I like the parking lot down here,” said Terry Adams, who was out sledding with her daughter Yumi on Dec. 26. “We haven’t come in the last couple years because of the parking situation. So we stopped coming, and we went to a different hill. This is our first time back in two or three years, I think.”

Foothills Park and Recreation District, which maintains Sledding Hill Park, built the small parking lot, accessible from southbound Kipling, early last year, easing the demand for safe parking.

Traditionally, sledders and their families have used a small parking area along Ken Caryl Avenue at the top of the hill. But only a handful of vehicles can occupy the space, and when drivers leave, they are forced to back out onto the road. Those who couldn’t find a spot there were forced to park across Ken Caryl in the neighborhood.

“It was kind of scary when you had to cross the street up there,” Adams said. “And you couldn’t find parking, really.”

That was what caused Adams and her family to stop going to the hill. And for the 30 years that locals have visited Sledding Hill Park, the search for a place to leave the car was usually the only damper on the fun.

The new lot is small — only 50 spaces — but it seemed to be appreciated by those who were able to get in last week.

“It’s a little tight,” said Randall Sorensen, a University of Colorado student whose family lives nearby. “It’s not really planned for big days, but it’s a nice addition. It used to be that these neighborhoods would get too crowded.”

On the busiest days last week, a line of cars formed at the parking lot entrance. When one car left, another would replace it, essentially keeping the lot at capacity at all times. Of course, some still used the small lot at the top of the hill, while others were forced to park in the neighborhood.

“Part of the reason for the parking lot — where that all came from — when we’d get snow on the ground like we did today, we really had a parking mess up at Ken Caryl Avenue up at the top of the hill,” said Bob Easton, who retired as Foothills’ executive director Dec. 31.

The district adopted the hill in 1999 after residents and the Jeffco commissioners prevented development on the hill. The only real development Foothills has done was to install the parking lot. The district otherwise plans to keep the hill as it is.

“It’s one of the more popular places for sledding here in the South Jeffco area, and we intend to keep it that way for very many years,” Easton said.

He saw some of the crowds last week, and suspected that, on sunny days, the hill — and parking lot — would stay busy.

“We designed it to hold 50 cars, and I guess on a busy day that’s not enough,” Easton said. “But it certainly helps.”

Contact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.com.