Find updated info for the 2021-22 winter season at the end of this post! This year, you’ll need a reservation to buy tickets for the toboggan chutes.
Winter isn’t exactly my favorite season. I like the first couple of times it snows, but the gray skies, cold temperatures, and salty roads wear on me pretty quickly.
Luckily, though, there are a lot of cool wintry things to do in northeast Ohio. Even just within the Cleveland Metroparks, you can go for winter hikes, rent snowshoes, or even go cross-country skiing!
But the most unique thing to do near Cleveland in the winter has to be flying down the toboggan chutes at the Chalet in Strongsville.
Strongsville toboggan chutes
Located in the Mill Stream Run Reservation in Strongsville, the toboggan chutes are a winter tradition in this part of Ohio; families have been sliding down them for more than 50 years!
The twin toboggan chutes are refrigerated (and always have been), meaning they can be operated even when there isn’t any snow. When they were first built in 1966, they were the very first of their kind anywhere in the world.
Today, the 700-foot-long toboggan chutes are a must-do for many Cleveland families in the winter.
I somehow managed to make it through 32 winters in northeast Ohio without experiencing the toboggan chutes. (Shame on me, I know!) But I decided to fix that a couple winters ago, when my husband and I headed to Strongsville on a Sunday morning after some snow had fallen.
(Yes, I know you can still go tobogganing without snow, but for some reason I really wanted there to be some snow on the ground when we went!)
What ensued was a really, really fun couple of hours. I can’t believe I’d never done this before!
Tobogganing in Cleveland
So what is a visit to the Strongsville toboggan chutes really like?
You’ll see the 70-foot high tobogganing hill as you pull into the Chalet from the Valley Parkway. After you park your car, head to the ticket booth on the outside of the Chalet to purchase your ski-lift-style ticket that you’ll need to affix to your jacket.
Tickets this year are being sold as daily passes only, and are $13 for adults and $11 for kids. (Note that kids must be at least 42 inches tall to ride.)
Once you confirm that you have a pair of gloves with you (gloves are the ONLY requirement for tobogganing), you can head to the stairs and climb to the top of the chutes.
Years ago, you had to carry your own toboggan to the top of the chutes. Today, the toboggans are brought up on an automatic lift, and you only need to carry yourself up the 108 steps.
At the top, you’ll load yourself and a friend or two onto a toboggan. The toboggans at the Strongsville toboggan chutes can hold up to 4 people apiece. There aren’t any weight requirements, but children do have to be at least 42 inches to ride.
Chalet staff are on hand to help load you into your toboggan (there are special ways to stack legs and hold the ropes – it’s entertaining to watch larger groups being loaded), and then to release you down the chute.
Going down the toboggan chute is like going down a 70-foot-tall roller coaster hill – complete with that stomach-dropping sensation! I personally love roller coasters, and couldn’t help screaming with laughter as we went down the hill.
Top toboggan speeds depend on chute conditions and how many people are on a toboggan, but the average speed is around 40 miles per hour!
We rode the toboggans three times, stopping to warm up by the Chalet’s outdoor fireplace in between runs.
In normal years, you can also go inside the Chalet to warm up, or to buy snacks and drinks. There are tables on the ground floor of the Chalet, as well as a few more upstairs that have a good view of the toboggan chutes. If you come with someone who doesn’t want to ride, this is a nice warm place where they could hang out to watch.
Tips for a fun day of tobogganing
To ensure that you have the best time possible at the toboggan chutes, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t forget the gloves! You’re required to wear gloves or mittens to ride a toboggan – and fingerless gloves don’t count.
- Go early. The toboggan chutes are open from just after Thanksgiving to early March, mostly on weekends. If you’re going on a weekend (and especially a weekend with decent weather), I recommend going as close to opening as you can. We arrived around 12:30 on a Sunday (when they opened at noon), and had the chutes more or less to ourselves for more than an hour. By 2 p.m., though, there was about a half hour wait to get on a toboggan. (*This doesn’t apply to the 2020-21 season, as you’ll need a timed reservation this year in order to ride.)
- Take your hat off. With speeds that can approach 50mph, people lose their hats all the time as they fly down the toboggan chutes. I recommend taking yours off before you ride.
- No filming allowed. I also learned that you’re sadly not allowed to wear a GoPro while riding the toboggans. This isn’t stated on the Metroparks site or on any signage at the Chalet, but the chute staff won’t let you ride with a camera, even if you aren’t holding it.
Tobogganing essential info
Where: The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation, 16200 Valley Parkway Strongsville, OH 44136
When: The toboggan chutes open the Friday after Thanksgiving, and stay open usually through early March. In 2021, opening day was Friday, November 26. They’re regularly open Fridays from 6-9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. They also have extra hours around the holidays; check the Cleveland Metroparks site for more info.
How much: Daily passes are $13 for adults and $11 for kids.
COVID-19 info for the 2021-22 season
Yes, the toboggan chutes ARE open for the 2021-22 winter season. They opened like normal on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and plan to be open through early March.
There are still COVID-19 rules in place this year, which include:
- Advanced reservation is required in order to ride the toboggan chutes. Your 1-hour reservation time is the time when you’re to pick up your pre-purchased tickets at The Chalet (but it doesn’t limit you to only one hour of riding; you can ride as many times as you want). Make a reservation online here.
- The interior of The Chalet will remain closed to the public. Concessions will still be available through a to-go window, though, and restrooms will also still be accessible.
READ NEXT: The Best Things to Do in Cleveland in Winter
Have you been tobogganing in Strongsville? If not, is it something you plan to try this winter?
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Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of the state. Now, she wants to share her love of Cleveland with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.