by Craig Distl
Beech Mountain's youth sledding hill offers a wonderland of fun daily for children 12 and under. Located next to the town's visitors center, the hill provides good sledding conditions with a combination of natural and man-made snow.
The free sled run is operated by Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation Department seven days a week (weather permitting) with safety personnel on duty. A loud speaker plays music and hot chocolate is available at nearby restaurants.
Plastic sleds are required. Families may bring their own, or they're available for rent and purchase at nearby stores on the mountain.
"The sledding hill is a great option for families with younger children who aren't ready for skiing or snowboarding yet, but still want to play in the snow," says Amy Morrison of the Beech Mountain Tourism Development Authority. "We get calls starting in September asking when the sledding hill is going to open. People plan their vacations knowing that they can use the hill. It's quite a popular attraction every winter."
And it's not just kids who love the hill. Parents like the heated restrooms and lobby in the adjacent visitors center, which offers complimentary Wi-Fi service. They've even been known to share a sled with the kids, sometimes for hours at a time.
Beech Mountain, at an elevation of 5,506 feet, is the highest town in Eastern America with an average annual snowfall of 84.6 inches. And when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, powder is available from a snow gun purchased exclusively for the sledding hill.
Hours of operation are 1 to 5 pm weekdays; and 9 am to 5 pm on weekends and holidays. The sledding hill stays open through late February or early March, depending on the weather.
Real-time sledding hill conditions are available by calling the visitors center toll-free at (800) 468-5506. Additional info is at: www.beechmtn.com.