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Winter mix challenges new toboggan chute

Keep in the mind that the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute is weather dependent. (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

We have been waiting for the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute to open. It’s a winter highlight for my family and must for visiting family and friends. Sliding down an icy ramp onto a frozen Mirror Lake is simple fun at its best.

The weather has been a bit uncooperative so the Toboggan Chute powers that be, (The North Elba Parks Department) always carefully assess the lake’s ice and post a weekly schedule letting us know Mirror Lake is safe for all toboggan riders. Well, that works for me. I’m nervous about being on lake ice so knowing that someone else is checking it’s depth is fine with me. Getting to ride the chute is always worth the wait.

A sign is posted at the ticket booth that sums up most of the rules of the ride. “You must be in good health and free from heart conditions, motion sickness, back or neck problems, or other physical limitations to ride. It is also suggested that expectant mothers refrain from riding.” I know it would be Instagram worthy, but truly no one wants you to give birth on the Toboggan Chute.

The two sizes of toboggans can hold between two to four people at a time. There is no age limit, but we always waited until our children could walk the ramp by themselves. That decision is left to the discretion of the parent. Dress warmly and don’t wear your fancy clothes. My friend ripped his good ski pants. Yes, he was warned.

It isn’t a long wait to walk up the 30-foot high converted ski jump trestle. It is only awkward because I always stop to take photos of people zipping past us. My daughter is then left holding the sled. The spectating is sometimes just as entertaining as the ride itself. The toboggan is a bit cumbersome, but the ramp has wooden cross pieces every 12 inches or so, so that we and the sled have some leverage.

There are two side-by-side chutes available, each manned. The landing is protected by clear glass on three sides, providing a nice barrier from the elements as we get situated into the sled. Attendants give clear instructions before giving us our send-off. We are to keep our feet inside the toboggan and hang on. There is no time for idle chitchat. A push start is not necessary. We are nudged to the edge and a second later we are zipping down ice and out onto a frozen Mirror Lake. We both laugh as we exit the chute and our toboggan starts turning circles before coming to a stop in the middle of the frozen lake.

The Lake Placid Toboggan Slide is located on Parkside Drive, next to the Lake Placid Public Beach on Mirror Lake Drive. The Toboggan Chute is weather dependent.

Regular hours are Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturdays noon to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., as well as Sundays, noon to 3 p.m.

Admission for unlimited rides for each time slot is $15 for adults and $10 for students and children, toboggan included. Only cash is accepted and no reservations.

The best place for openings, closings, and schedule changes is the North Elba website (northelba.org) and Facebook page. There are special hours for Presidents’ Day holidays will be posted there as well.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.” For more family-friendly activities go to www.adirondackfamilytime.com.

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