Dead Horse Valley is not only the most popular place to go sledding on Nantucket, it is one of the only places. This makes it a highlight of the winter months with both visitors and locals alike, on those rare occasions when Nantucket gets real snow. Teens and kids especially love it, as the sledding area starts out nice and gentle, but then gradually becomes more steep, making for a smooth, fast ride to safety at the bottom. It's almost like riding a roller coaster. Anytime there is snow on Nantucket, you can be sure that there will be plenty of people of all ages at Dead Horse Valley. The kids and teenagers will be enjoying sledding, while their parents watch happily from the sidelines. It's winter family fun at its best! (Don't miss an older video of sledding at Dead Horse Valley at the bottom!)
Great Fun If There Is Snow
Dead Horse Valley is located on public property on Nantucket. The whole area is approximately 400 feet long and has a 50 degree slope. The terrain is smooth in some places, and bumpy in others. While it's not an officially designated sledding place, it is the only real place to sled on the island. It doesn't get to be used nearly often enough. This is because most winter weather on Nantucket is mixed with rain or sleet, or only a light dusting of snow forms. When there is any real snow on the ground on Nantucket, though, Dead Horse Valley is the place to go. There isn't any parking nearby, but Nantucket is a small island. It won't be hard to get to from wherever you park.
If you're visiting the island for the first time, Dead Horse Valley is easy to find. Nantucket is only 17 miles long, so it's hard to get lost. Just get a map and find Mill Street. Mill Street will take you up a small hill. At the top of the hill, turn left at Mill Hill Lane. This street eventually becomes an unmarked country road. Look at the house numbers. When you spot #11, which is on the right side of the road, you will see four white markers in the distance, about 20 yards past house #11. This is Dead Horse Valley, and the start of your sledding adventure.
Origins of the Name
Dead Horse Valley is rumored to have been the places where dead horses were buried on Nantucket back in colonial times. However, there is no solid proof to this rumor. What is known about the place is that it's been active as a place of business since at least 1746, when the first known windmill was built near there. This is mentioned in several books on the history of the island, and its veracity can be seen today in the names of the streets leading to the valley (such as Mill Street and Mill Hill Lane). Today, however, Dead Horse Valley is a place for nothing but fun. People walk their dogs there in the summer, but in the winter, when it snows, this gorgeous public land on Nantucket is all about sledding.
For what not to do when sledding...