There are only a few days each year we get to partake in this winter tradition, so be prepared. Get your boots and gloves ready, your wool hat and hot chocolate -- and the directions from your home to any of these places.
BETHPAGE STATE PARK
After golf, sledding is probably the most popular activity at the 1,500-acre state park straddling the Nassau-Suffolk border. What’s so cool about sledding Bethpage? You get to glide downhill in the footsteps of some of the world’s most famous professional golfers. No, you can’t toboggan the famously challenging Black Course, where Tiger Woods won the 2002 U.S. Open. But you can glide over the 460-yard fairway leading to the first hole of the Red (second-most-difficult course). The historic Green course also is open to sledding. Both fairways start behind the clubhouse. No snow tubes, inner tubes, discs or saucers.
INFO 99 Quaker Meetinghouse Rd., Farmingdale, 516-249-0700, nysparks.com
CEDAR CREEK PARK
Eisenhower Park’s Sled Hill in East Meadow is no more, replaced by a skating rink, county officials say. The only Nassau County park officially open to sledders is Cedar Creek Park in Seaford. Cedar Creek’s sledding hills are easy to find. They’re next to parking fields at the south end of the park. The sledding is intermediate, on hills bordered by tall trees, including some evergreens. One of the hills is bowl-shaped, offering an up-and-down roller-coaster ride.
INFO 3340 Merrick Rd., Seaford, 516-571-7470, nassaucountyny.gov/2792/Cedar-Creek-Park
HEMPSTEAD LAKE STATE PARK
The slope is short and not very steep at Hempstead Lake State Park, but it’s scenic. The hill begins where Lake Drive meets Peninsula Boulevard and ends with a view of man-made (and most likely frozen-over) McDonald Pond. It’s pretty much a bunny hill, best for families with young children. Park in Field 3 for easy access to the sledding area. And not to worry: A safety fence installed by park workers at the bottom of the slope keeps sledders from overshooting into the pond.
INFO Southern State Parkway Exit 18 (Eagle Avenue), West Hempstead, 516-766-1029, nysparks.com
NEWBRIDGE ROAD PARK
Short and steep, the lone hill gives some of the best sledding. It’s a round hill, allowing sledders to slide down in any direction.
INFO 2600 Newbridge Rd., Bellmore, 516-783-2500
WILDWOOD STATE PARK
There’s no need to travel upstate to go sledding alongside hardwood forest. Wildwood is about as wild as wilderness gets on Long Island. There’s no particular area set aside for sledding, but that’s actually an advantage, opening up the park’s 769 acres to sledders. Just choose a hill and turn it into your own private downhill run. Many sledders gravitate toward the campgrounds, or roadways, which are closed in winter to campers and vehicular traffic, park officials say.
INFO 790 Hulse Landing Rd., north of Sound Avenue, Wading River, 631-929-4314, nysparks.com