There was a lot of buzz around town this summer over the mountain’s new zipline, which soars down Mt. Mansfield at 10 to 130 feet off the ground. At first, the kids were all over it, but when they really thought about, they hesitated. I’m not a big heights girls myself, so we unanimously opted to test out the mountains less touted new feature, the TreeTop Adventure course, first. And it was AWESOME.
The course is well designed, allowing participants to build confidence and skill as they go, while moving progressively on to higher and more challenging features. Kids have to begin on the yellow course before attempting the adult course, which gave everyone some practice with the harness system and carabiners. If they are tall enough, they can then move onto the four adult courses, which get progressively more difficult before ending with a zipline to the finish.
In addition to some features you might expect– swinging logs, treetop bridges, and rope ladders– there are a couple of really fun and unusual spots along the course. The “Tarzan swing” has participants swing from a rope into a cargo net strung between two trees. The course instructors encouraged loud Tarzan yells, and there was definitely some shrieking going on, but nothing that sounded much like Tarzan.
Another favorite was a skateboard-like feature toward the end of the course, where you had to hop onto a moving board and “skate” across to the landing. The course gets pretty darn high toward the end– up to 50′ in the air, which feels really, really high up.
At every transition point, you can opt to climb down and not move onto the next course. Or, if you’re really freaking out, one of the course staff will help you exit at any point…but then you’re done. As our instructor told us, wherever you come out, the course only gets harder from that point, so it’s a good indication that you’ve reached your limit.
But the boys never reached their limit. They climbed higher, worked harder, and helped each other right to the very end…a nice long zip to the finish. It was very cool to see them working together, shouting encouragements, laughing, and whooping their way through the trees. And it was clear they felt a sense of accomplishment when they finally touched down, which was well-earned and well-deserved.
A Note on Safety
The carabiners operate on a magnetic system that NEVER allows you to be completely unclipped. Only one carabiner will unclip at a time, until you reach the ground. This is a nice little insurance policy for parents, since there is really no way you can physcially help your kids when they’re up there. The course is also very well staffed with knowledgable and friendly people who can get themselves up into the course to help pretty darn quick. They were encouraging, helpful and fun.
A Few Tips
Have the bravest in your group go first. Once you’re up there, you can’t pass or move back, so it was helpful in our group that the oldest and bravest kid was first. Once he made it to the next landing, he was able to talk to his buddies about how to tackle a difficult spot in the course.
Likewise, give your group some space on the course. At one point there was a couple hot on our heels, making the kids feel a little rushed and nervous. If there is a fast-looking group on the ground with you, let them go first so you can take your time and enjoy.
Bring snacks! We were up there much longer than I’d anticipated and the course really takes a lot of physical and mental energy. All told, we were there for over three hours and the boys were starving by the time we finished.
If you go…
The cost is $59 per person, or $29 per child only for the yellow course. You can also get a combo pass for the ZipTour and TreetopTour for $139. Tours run on the half hour from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Read through all the paperwork and sign your waivers in advance. There is a lot, and it’s all pretty important.
Make your reservations at least a couple of days in advance. We had no trouble getting the time slot we wanted, but same day reservations are unlikely, so plan ahead.
Next up, the ZipTour!