While winter in the Midwest is without a doubt cold, it doesn’t always include snow. What’s one to do when you want to go sledding, but are missing the snow? Visit the Pokagon State Park Toboggan Run! These tips, including sled selection, speed maximization, and the best time to visit will ensure that you make the most of your time tobogganing.
Top Tips for Tobogganing at Pokagon
Consider Your Sled Selection
Pokagon State Park offers three choices for toboggan rental: a 30 lb four-person, a 45 lb three-person, and a 60 lb four-person sled. Upon rental, a park employee informed us that the heavier the sled the faster you go. Go fast or go home, right? So, of course, we opted for the 45 lb three-person, over the lightweight 30 lb sled. In our quest for speed, we neglected to consider the difficulty in transporting the toboggan from the end of the run back to the start.
Transporting Your Toboggan
The toboggan track starts atop a 30 ft tower, that drops and then levels for a total vertical decline of 90 ft over a quarter-mile. Riders must then carry their sled from the end of the course, uphill, over the ¼-mile, back to the start after each run. This is no easy task when you consider the weight of a toboggan, which ranges from 30-60 lbs.
We repeatedly lugged our toboggan back up the hill after each run. Let me tell you, it was quite the workout! However, we saw some very clever people loading theirs into pickup trucks or SUVs at the end of the run, then driving them back to the start. The boys said that they were cheating. I’m fairly certain that they were just smart. Note, this strategy does require two adults: one to ride down the toboggan run, and another to drive the vehicle. Since it was just the boys and me, we were out of luck. If you plan on tobogganing with younger kids, but don’t have a vehicle capable of transporting a toboggan, bring at least two adults to trade off carrying the sled. I’m not going to lie, it was quite challenging for me and my 10-year-old son to carry the toboggan back up the hill after each run.
Maximizing Your Speed
Tobogganing is a much greater adrenaline rush than traditional sledding or snow tubing. It’s a 20-30 second ride with speeds reaching 35-40 mph. While the top recorded toboggan speed at Pokagon State Park is 42 mph, we only reached a maximum speed of 34 mph. But, the more weight, the faster the run! So, if you are looking to maximize your speed, consider renting a 60 lb sled. Then load it with four people, preferably 2-3 adults. The boys are already planning a return visit with their dad and brother.
Timing Your Visit
The Pokagon State Park toboggan run can get very busy. Riders are only guaranteed at least one ride per hour during peak times. When we arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday, the line for the run was down the tower’s stairs and past the warming house. But by late afternoon, the line was nonexistent. Overall, we spent approximately 2 hours at the run, and averaged about 3 rides per hour. Line or no line, the bulk of our time was spent lugging that 45 lb sled up the course after each run. Again, you can increase the number of rides per hour, by driving rather than carrying the toboggan to the start.
Repeatedly carrying the toboggan back up the run is enough to exhaust just about anyone. Thankfully, the park has a warming center just steps from the run’s tower. The center has a concession that offers a variety of snacks and drinks, including, hot chocolate, of course.
450 Ln 100 Lake James, Angola, IN 46703
Hours are Friday 5:30 – 9:00 pm, Saturday 10:30 am – 9:00 pm, and Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Toboggan rental is $13 per hour. The entrance fee for the state park is $7 for in-state vehicles, $9 for out-of-state vehicles.
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