Those seeking adventure and possibly a bit of risk taking might want to try zip lining. Though more common in faraway, mountainous areas, there are some options here in the Philadelphia area, and even more just a few hours away. While each has its own special features, all require the use of safety harnesses and helmets and stress that participants must wear closed-toe shoes. As is common with activities involving risk, all also require a signed waiver from participants or their parents for those under 18.
Spring Mountain Ski Area in Spring Mount has extended the use of its property to year round by adding zip lines and high ropes equipment, enabling them to offer several canopy tours that last anywhere from one to three hours. The trip starts with a ride on the chair lift, then participants climb over nets, walk on wires suspended high above the ground, and zip over open air at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, all while safely secured in a harness. You are accompanied the entire time by trained staff who guide you through the tour. Spring Mount also offers a night tour, using headlamps to light up the course.
While no special skill or experience is needed, the Spring Mountain website does say that participants must be between 70 and 250 pounds and able to climb stairs without assistance. Children 15 to 17 must have a parent’s signature and those age 10 to 14 must also be accompanied by a parent, guardian or organized group leader.
A Junior Explorer Tour allows smaller kids to get in on the fun as well. Those who are at least 50 pounds can ride to the top of the mountain and complete an abbreviated tour and have the opportunity to climb on the Rock Tower for about an hour. The site is able to accommodate groups as well as individuals. Due to the popularity of the tours, reservations are necessary for any of the canopy tours offered.
Another opportunity to fly through the trees is offered at Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. There guests can play in the trees at Treetop Adventures, one of the zoo’s latest attractions. There are adventure options for those from 36” tall and up. There are six options to choose from with both day and night options (as the zoo typically closes at 5:00, nighttime visits are limited, so check the website for dates).
Treetop Adventures has over 70 challenge games and multiple zip lines up to 50 feet above the ground. Unlike other zip line challenges, this one takes you over animal exhibits (reportedly the only one in Pennsylvania to do so). There is a weight limit of 300 pounds and participants need to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without help. Reservations an be made a day or more in advance and are recommended as space fills quickly.
Further south, at Lums Pond State Park in Bear Delaware, Go Ape! offers a two to three hour journey through the forest canopy which features suspended obstacles, swings and four zip lines that take you over the largest freshwater pond in the state. Like the others, they have a modified course for younger adventurers including 20 obstacles and two zip lines. Go Ape requires one participating adult to supervise up to two 10 to 15 year old children.
At Go Ape!, participants up to 285 (subject to harness fit) are given a 30-minute safety briefing and training before being set loose to navigate the course at their own pace. Instructors are available to assist if needed. Like the other courses, they recommend reserving in advance to guarantee your space.
If you want to travel further, there are even more opportunities in the Poconos and northern New Jersey. In addition, you may find small zip lines at some adventure centers offering ropes challenge courses that can provide a taste of the adrenaline rush that comes with flying through the trees. Once you try it, you may find you want to travel to more exotic locales to experience the unique perspective offered by a zip line.