From obscure exploits to fast-growing family adventures, treetop treks and zip line adventures have evolved into a province-wide sensation as new courses constantly push the boundaries for thrill-seeking climbers and aerialists. At least seven major Ontario locations now offer adventures along pathways high above the forest floor. Visitors use climbing equipment and safety harnesses to safely traverse routes swaying high in the woodland canopy, challenge themselves with feats of skill and dexterity way above the ground and often whizz back down to earth on a zip line.
Opening this August in the Brampton area, Treetop Trekking’s newest course will feature twin zip lines crossing a lake—and back. “Climbers play on over 100 games and platforms on this course which will be one of the largest in Ontario, says Mike Stiell, Ontario Marketing Coordinator. “Many of the games will be unique. Our construction crews are always coming up with unique and wacky games to challenge people in new ways.” Expect an enhanced Tarzan course, with rope swinging and jungle-like canopies.
With increased competition, the push is on to keep ahead of the game by adding new challenges: swings, monkey cables, even night time adventures in which climbers find their way through the darkness with a help of their headlamps. Treetop Trekking, which already operates three courses in Ontario at Huntsville, Barrie and Ganaraska (at the Ganaraska Forest north of Port Hope), continues to add new games to keep climbers challenged.
When its Huntsville course opened in July of 2012, the giant Tarzan swing pushed the boundaries for thrill-seekers. “You climb up a 12-metre high platform, clip into a rope pulley system, then when you give the ‘thumbs up’ you are tugged off the platform, onto a giant pendulum to come swinging down, flying through the air and dropping six metres into a cargo net,” said Stiell.
“At our Ganaraska location, the expert course is the most challenging in Ontario,” says Stiell. “You start by climbing 21 metres straight up a white pine (tree) then take a leap of faith onto a zip line.” Cable stirrups and a spiraling suspension bridge are among the most physically challenging games at any park. Being unpredictable, they test your technique and challenge your balance.
Extreme challenge is not for everyone, however. At Ganaraska all climbers start on a beginner course, gradually working their way up through increasing degrees of difficulty while being carefully monitored by guides. “About 20 per cent of our clients go on to an expert course,” says Stiell.
Although most courses have height and weight restrictions, one of Treetop’s Barrie courses can be managed by children as young as five years old, including the zip line.