Barring injury and frostbite, it's impossible to have a bad time sledding. No matter how cold, windy, icy or crowded, a trip to the top of your local hill always feels like spending a snow day among old friends.

Barring injury and frostbite, it's impossible to have a bad time sledding. No matter how cold, windy, icy or crowded, a trip to the top of your local hill always feels like spending a snow day among old friends.

You point and laugh with strangers. Collisions that normally would have you gasping in horror somehow seem harmless. Bumps and bruises fade over hot, soothing beverages.

Other winter sports require lift tickets, fancy gear, a long drive or special skills. Not so with this most basic cold-weather hobby - all you need is a coat and that old plastic dish in your attic.

Luckily, there are plenty of great places to hit the hills in Central Ohio.

Alum Creek Park North

221 W. Main St., Westerville

614-794-0401

Web: visitwesterville.org

Hill rating: ***

Overview: Though park staff closed the sweet run over the small stone wall, the open section is a great intermediate hill. You can expect a large crowd after a snow, but this popularity means fast, hard-packed conditions. A sidewalk running through the middle of the hill provides a small, enjoyable jump.

Nearby cocoa spot: Heavenly Cup Espresso, 25 N. State St., 614-523-3306

Wyman Woods Park

1520 Goodale Blvd., Grandview

Web: grandviewheights.org

Hill rating: ***

Overview: The Grandview Avenue hill might be a pain by car or bike, but it makes this small municipal park a great sledding spot. It's fairly wide and steep, with greater speed available to the daring who climb above the wooden backstop. Unfortunately, it faces south and melts quickly on a warmer day.

Nearby cocoa spot: Luck Bros' Coffee House, 1101 W. First Ave., 614-299-9330

Antrim Park

Location: 5800 Olentangy River Rd., Clintonville

Web: recparks.columbus.gov

Hill rating: **

Overview: Located on the west side of U.S. Rt. 315, this popular hill offers a short, very wide run that gets a bit steeper on one end. First-timers can ease their way to slightly more advanced levels by walking due north. Wood chips, cattails and a small incline keep you from sledding into the parking lot.

Nearby cocoa spot: Starbucks Coffee, 965 Bethel Rd., 614-459-1929

Highbanks Metro Park

9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center

614-891-0700

Web: metroparks.net

Hill rating: ****

Overview: The most fun of the four hills I hit, this run is skinny, steep and very fast. Sitting at the top, you can't see the drop, a rare extreme treat for those on dishes and tubes. It's located at the Big Meadows Picnic Area, in the northwest section of the park.

Nearby cocoa spot: Espresso Yourself Music Cafe, 50 W. Olentangy St. in Powell, 614-436-7100