Winter in Calgary – it’s all downhill. Next to hockey, sliding down hills on a wooden sled or toboggan, inner tube or crazy carpet is super-Canadian. Even the word toboggan originates in the eastern part of the country. In the early 1800s, the French adapted the word from the Algonquin Indigenous peoples. It was this community that first used the sleds over the snow.
Some municipalities have outlawed tobogganing due to safety concerns and rightly so. There are unwritten rules about sliding down the hill, like proceed down the hill only when the path is clear. Make sure that the bottom of the run is free of obstacles or unsafe areas such as open water, fences, trees, rocks and roadways. Get off the toboggan as soon as it has stopped at the bottom of the hill and proceed to the side of the hill to walk back up again. So many injuries happen as a result of not abiding by these simple rules.
Riding with a helmet is encouraged and the City of Calgary recommends that children 12 and under be supervised and children 5 and under have a responsible person on the sled with them at all times. Sliding in the daylight is also recommended.
That being said, there are plenty of slopes and man-made hills in the city where you can spend hours of fun going down, going up and going back down again.
Located north of downtown, Confederation Park was built in the mid-1960s and so named in honour of Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967. Located in a natural valley, the park has pathways, footbridges and thousands of hand-planted trees. The scenery in this inner-city park has been called breathtaking. Park by the Rosemont Community Hall and choose from a number of great hills, from gentle slopes for the little ones to more extreme hills with a ride that will last 30 seconds or more.
St. Andrew’s Heights: The Mother of all Toboggan Runs
You can see this massive hill from University Drive NW but you have to drive into St. Andrew’s Heights and access the top of the hill off 13 Ave NW. This run is not for the faint of heart. Definitely not recommended for young children. It’s fast and steep, free of trees or rocks with a fence safely situated at the far end of the level field at the bottom of the hill. Head protection is recommended for the ride of your life at this hill, situated west of McMahon Stadium.
Winsport Canada Olympic Park
New this year is the Acura Tube Park where you can spend hours sliding down the hill on a big, comfy inner-tube. Technically, this is not tobogganing but it’s the next best thing. This area has nine separate lanes some of which are 200 metres long. You can purchase a two, three or four-hour admission pass and the beauty of this hill is that with your admission you have the park’s washrooms, concession and can warm up in the Frank King Day Lodge. If you want to spend more time on the hill you can RELOAD your pass using your Smart Phone.
Smaller Neighbourhood Hills
Looking for a friendlier place to introduce your family to this slippery sport? There are plenty of other locations, endorsed and approved by the City of Calgary where you can park close by and still get a bit of a thrill.
In the southwest quadrant of the city, Kingsland is one of the best places to take a small toboggan for a glide. There is a dry pond at this location, and an ideal hill behind Rose Kohn Arena at Heritage Drive SW and Haddon Road SW. It is a favorite among toboggan aficionados because it is convenient to get to, and it offers a thrilling experience with each and every run. It is also an ideal family destination, perfect for both beginners and those who are more experienced.
Stanley Park is a picturesque Calgary park that features pristine views of the Elbow River, but it's also known for its excellent small toboggan opportunities. Those who want to go tobogganing at this park should park by 1A Street SW and head toward the hill at the south end of the park. Here, there will be plenty of other people enjoying rides down the hill. It's a great place to bring the family for a day of tobogganing and family fun during the long winter months in Calgary.
Those who want to discover a hidden gem in Calgary should head straight to Glendale, where only the locals know to go. The best hills for small tobogganing can be found on the west side of 45th Street SW, north of 26th Avenue SW. The hills will be to the east of Optimist Park. At this location, there's a variety of different hills — including more treacherous courses for experienced tobogganers and small hills for the youngest enthusiasts. This is an ideal location for a day of tobogganing, because everyone in the group is sure to find a hill that works best for them.
Deerfoot Athletic Park
While other parks that offer tobogganing hills in Calgary may feel like they are out in the great wide opens of the Canadian wilderness, the Deerfoot Athletic Park is the premier urban spot for small toboggans. This hill is located in the heart of a city neighborhood, making it a great place for local families to enjoy when it is most convenient for them. There's also a nearby trail for those who prefer to snowshoe or hike rather than toboggan, which may appeal to groups of people who have different interests or skill levels. The park is located at 14th Avenue NE and 16A Street NE.
Prairie Winds Park
For every sledding enthusiast, there's always one hill that they absolutely need to conquer. In Calgary, the toboggan hill at Prairie Winds Park is often considered to be the best of the best. It's known for having one of the tallest and steepest hills in the city, and everyone wants to say that they've slid down it at least once. While this park boasts one of the largest toboggan hills in the city, there also are several smaller hills located nearby. This allows families with children of different ages to have one place where they can all go to have a great day of sledding. The park is located at 223 Castleride Boulevard NE.
One of the most popular places in Calgary for small tobogganing is at Royal Oak, a community center located at 50 Royal Birkdale Drive NW that features various hills of different sizes. The snow here is often packed down from frequent use, which makes for exciting rides. There's even a few mini jumps for those who want to test out their tobogganing tricks.Enjoying all Tobogganing Calgary Has to Offer
Calgary has several great tobogganing spots for residents and visitors to explore. Enjoy the winter months with this thrilling snow sport here in Calgary, AB.