We’re used to observing the stunning fall foliage of the Berkshires from a distance. From the farm fields lined with yellows and oranges in the valley to the bright reds that reach up the shoulders of the highest peaks. The mix of colors brushed across the landscape is a sight not to be missed. Still there’s a secret about fall foliage in the Berkshires — it’s best viewed up close! Whether hiking, biking or canoeing getting out there and into the brilliantly cover forests produces more beautiful and rewarding foliage vistas than any highway can provide. The most exciting way to see foliage up close is on one of the area’s many aerial adventure parks.
What is an aerial adventure park? Think of a playground in the tree canopy. A series of rope and wooden obstacles suspended 15… 30… 45 feet above the ground, provide a fun and sometimes a challenging way to play among the treetops. There’s plenty of safety involved, as you’re harnessed in top-of-the-line climbing gear and clipped into a cable system that doesn’t release until you’re back on the ground. With beginner, intermediate, and expert courses aerial adventure parks allow everyone to experience fall foliage up close and with the added perk of a lot of fun along the way. Often the highlights of each aerial adventure park are the ziplines between each feature ( many times the longest zipline is the final feature, returning you to the ground).
Let’s take a look some of the many aerial adventure parks in the Berkshires.
South Egremont is home to our region’s largest aerial adventure park, the Catamount Adventure Park. With more than 170 features, including 50 ziplines on 12 different courses, there’s truly something for everyone.
Head up Route 7 to Pittsfield, where you’ll find Bousquet’s Adventure Park. With 35 features on three different levels, the Bousquet park is a great course for first timers. They also have a separate, stand-alone zipline for adventurers looking for the rush of soaring through the air, without the technical and physical aspects of the adventure park features.
Continuing north, off of 7, is Ramblewild on Brodie Mountain Road. One of the newest aerial adventure parks in the region, Ramblewild features 8 unique aerial courses on 10 forested acres with a deep ravine and 200 ft suspension bridge through the center of it all.
Next door (literally) is Jiminy Peak’s Aerial Adventure Park, with over 70 features on 5 courses. If you head to the Black Course (the most difficult) be ready to test your physical and mental capabilities!
Finally, a little east of the main Berkshire corridor you’ll find a zipline mecca — the Berkshire East Canopy Tours. While the adventure parks include zip lines as part of their fun, Berkshire East focuses on the adrenaline rush that comes from being hooked to a cable and soaring 200 feet above the ground at over 50 mph. Right next door, Deerfield Valley Zipline Canopy Tours provides a network of ziplines descending 500 vertical feet from the start of the tour.
Whether you’re a spry twenty-something who can climb ascending monkey bars without breaking a sweat, a family with kids who would love to play on the biggest jungle gym they’ve ever seen, or even a 70 year old grandma (I’ve been on an adventure park with one) looking for a new adventure get outside and check out one of these exciting playgrounds this fall.
Price: You can expect to pay between $30 and $50 per person for adventure park tours and $20 – $100 for zipline tours. You can usually save a few bucks by booking early online and visiting at off-peak times, i.e. non-holiday.
The equipment is the biggest restriction for ages and size. For instance, small children don’t have enough weight to carry them across ziplines. Generally kids ages 6 and up are good to go and folks under 250 pounds are in the clear. Check with each park beforehand for the specific height, weight, and age restrictions.
All of these adventure parks have courses designed for beginners, meaning the physical requirements are very low. So if you’re worried about being out of shape it’s not that big of an issue. If you’re looking for a real challenge (like boot camp style obstacles) the better shape you’re in, the more enjoyable the course will be.
Get up in the trees and check out the foliage up close this fall!