SPRINGVILLE Some 25 years ago a city-owned hill in Hobble Creek Canyon was a popular place to go winter tubing.
"It was a great hill," said former Springville Herald owner Martin Conover. "You could get up some great speeds."
But a city attorney feared "we could get really nailed" if anyone was hurt on the hill at Jolley's Ranch, Conover recalled.
He didn't remember anyone getting hurt, but someone was hurt in 1983, said Alex Roylands, then a part-time employee for the city who is now director of the buildings and grounds department. To prevent further liability, the hill was closed.
The new sledding hill is designed more for children. It's not a "crazy hill," Roylands said.
The winter park had been proposed a few times over the years, but the City Council wasn't willing to budget for it, he said.
Canyon parks and recreation supervisor Kim Francom credits a new council and mayor for reopening the recreation area.
The 350-acre ranch has been used just for summer camping. When the city put in restrooms and heated them for winter use, Francom thought the ranch had sat idle long enough in the winter, so he approached the City Council with a plan and a budget. The council bought it.
The winter playground just opened with nearly five miles of groomed trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, a tubing and sledding hill and parking areas for snowmobilers. Near the barn an 11-acre area has been set aside for skating on skis, he said. No downhill skiing is available.
It's the only site south of Sundance Ski Resort and Soldier Hollow designed for winter sports, Francom said.
"It was locked up for 20-plus years," he said.
As for that great sledding hill, the city planted trees on it to discourage its use, Conover said.
On Saturday, the sledding hill was packed with tubers and sledders enjoying the groomed hill under blue skies. An upturn at the bottom of the hill stops sledders, while a net beyond that is in place for added safety.
Six of Rich Nichols' grandchildren were among the sledders.
"They're just having a ball," said Nichols of Springville. "They like the long run."
Their father, Chris Nichols of Orem, was also with them.
Tom Hanks of Springville packed his wife and family into their minivan for a few hours at the park.
"It's very organized and safe for little kids," he said.
His children range in age from 2 to 13.
"It felt gleeful," Brooklyn Hanks, 13, said of her sledding experience.
"There're a lot of different tracks, some are slow. I liked the fast ones," Jonathan Hanks, 10, said.
"I hate to see it get crowded," said their mother, Mimi Hanks.
Last year snowmobilers used the right fork of Hollow Creek Canyon, which is not city property, Francom said. Now the city is maintaining trails in the ranch for other types of fun in the snow. The city rents ski and snowshoe equipment by the day and is providing a warming shelter along with selling season passes and giving group discounts.
Tubing and sledding are free, while cross country skiing and snowshoeing are available with full and half-day rates at the Community Services Office, 443 S. 200 East, Mondays through Fridays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The city's Web site www.springville.org has pricing information. Season passes are available.The winter park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the gate for snowmobile parking remaining open. For more information call Springville Canyon Parks at 489-5872.
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