Over the past few years ski areas in and around the Berkshires have found a way to keep visitors coming to the slopes year-round with property additions such as water parks, mountain coasters, rock walls, trampolines and a family favorite — aerial adventure parks and zipline courses.
These parks and courses at Catamount, Bousquet, Jiminy Peak, Berkshire East and Zoar Outdoor may open in the spring (with a new one, Ramblewind, in Lanesborough set to open next year), but personally, with foliage beginning to change already, I believe fall is the best time of year to take to the trees and platforms. Our family has stopped by many of these aerial adventure sites throughout the past few years and I have yet to hear someone complain.
Now before you head to the Berkshire hills for a little family adventure in trees, you should know the difference between aerial adventure parks and zipline canopy tours. The adventure parks (located at Catamount, Bousquet, Jiminy and coming to Ramblewind) consist of a series of platforms and obstacles (rope bridges, ladders, ziplines, etc.) that adventurers can navigate at their own pace, as long as they meet the age, weight and/or height requirements. These courses are not for the severely out of shape, but most of these courses do have several levels, so there is bound to be one that fits most individual’s abilities (Hint: When I tried it I hadn’t worked out in years and had no problem navigating the lower levels). As a bonus: the better you are at each level, the higher you can progress. After you get suited up in your harness and get a short tutorial by staff on how to navigate the course and clip yourself in and out of each level, you will be set loose on the course by yourself to explore.
Zipline Canopy Tours (Berkshire East and Zoar), however, are much less “in your hands” and take any of the fear of “doing it yourself” out of the equation. After getting suited up in your gear and testing your skills on the practice zip, you will head out to the course with your guides. At each platform the guides will clip you in and clip you out when needed, all you have to do is sit back, relax, zip and — REMEMBER TO BREAK!