Adventurous New Parks

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Trees of Mystery Canopy Trail: Making Connections

Tree-Mendous developed new tools and techniques to anchor platforms in the redwoods at Trees of Mystery.

Northern California’s redwood trees are some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in North America. The museum, SkyTrail gondola, and educational walking trails at Trees of Mystery have allowed guests to experience the forest in several ways for more than 60 years. Now, guests can experience redwoods from a new perspective—at heights of up to 100 feet off the ground—on the new Canopy Trail, built by Tree-Mendous Aerial Adventures.

The Canopy Trail consists of nine custom-built netted bridges ranging from 25 feet to 130 feet in length, strung between support trees. Each bridge is connected to a circular platform that rings its support tree. The Trail loops around the Cathedral Tree—a unique formation of nine trees growing in a semicircle from the root structure of one “mother tree” that fell centuries ago—back to the base of the SkyTrail gondola.

Redwood trees have a bark layer that can be up to two feet thick to protect the tree from fire or infestation. This unique armor makes it challenging to attach anything to the ancient redwoods; Tree-Mendous developed new tools and techniques to properly anchor the platforms.

Hidden Valley ZipTour: Necessary Adjustments

Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Wildwood, Mo., 29 miles outside of St. Louis, is now home to a ZipTour zip line attraction, the first non-winter offering at the ski area since its golf course closed in 2008. The tour has four dual spans, ranging in length from 305 feet to 2,806 feet, and involves two lift rides and two short hikes. The zip lines use Terra-Nova’s dynamically controlled ZipTour trolley, which allows riders to control their speed. The tour opened in May 2019 and operates year-round.

Not everyone was on board with the project when it was first presented to the town in 2017. A contentious zoning and permitting process ensued. So Hidden Valley worked closely with ­Terra-Nova to modify the original proposed layout of the tour, moving and shortening one of the proposed lines and limiting operating hours to 9 a.m. to sunset year-round, among other concessions. Local authorities approved the new proposal in October 2018, and construction moved forward shortly after.

Mainland Adventure Park: Ground Breaking

A unique subsoil beneath Mainland Adventure Park forced Challenge Design Innovations to engineer a central tower that could support the entire park and withstand high winds, sans guy wires.

The Mainland Adventure Park in Manahawkin, N.J., opened this past July. The installation, adjacent to The Mainland Hotel, includes a 50-element aerial adventure course, a 50-foot climbing wall, a central tower with a kids’ play fort, a go-kart track, and four zip lines that soar over the track. The park was designed and built by Challenge Design Innovations (CDI).

CDI faced some unique installation obstacles, namely the composition of the site’s subsoil, which includes layers of iron ore with perched water. Use of guy wires to support the tower would have meant drilling very deep anchors. That limitation, coupled with the layout of the park, led CDI to engineer and construct a central tower able to withstand the load of the aerial adventure park, zip lines, and 125 mph winds without the support of guy wires.

Finally, CDI incorporated an ocean theme into the design as a nod to the park’s location near the Jersey Shore. Sharks, jellyfish, and seashells, as well as buoys and lobster traps, are all built into the design and elements of the park.

Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures: Smart Expansion

Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures worked with Treetop Quest to expand its activity mix to welcome more guests of all ages, abilities, and interests.

Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures opened in July 2017. The adventure park, located in Winona, Miss., was the first franchise park for Treetop Quest, and is home to a few of the company’s signature attractions, including a Spider Quest zone—a large netted area with 20 unique obstacles—a Kids Quest zone, and two treetop obstacle courses, among others.

Old Mountain’s mission is to provide personal and group growth and learning through adventure, and the park has quickly become popular. So it was time to expand. The operators worked closely with Treetop Quest to add activities that increase the park’s capacity as well as provide new experiences for returning guests to enjoy.

In early February 2019, Treetop Quest started construction on several components: a TruBlue Zip Line course featuring seven zip lines, a zip line trapeze, two suspension bridges, and a Leap of Faith; and a third level for the treetop obstacle course, which includes both zip lines and pirate-themed obstacles for participants to make their way though. Both projects were completed in spring of 2019.

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