By Kelly Bevan McIlquham
It’s only a quarter-mile trek from the lodge at Ramblewild to the station where we suited up in all the equipment necessary for riding from tree to tree, navigating structures hundreds of feet in the air, and repelling from sky-high platforms down to the ground below. Only 200 feet into that forest hike, my 12-year-old son understand that this was already part of the Ramblewild experience.
“Just look up,” he said after just a few minutes. “You’re in a canopy of trees. It’s awesome!” To me, it seemed like something right out of the pages of Swiss Family Robinson, where the fun begins hundreds of feet above the ground. What an exciting way to be in nature, share quality time with family, and to grow an appreciation for the natural resources that is available to all of us.
This wasn’t our first experience playing in the trees in the Berkshires. We have explored many of the aerial adventure destinations in the region – self-guided obstacle courses at Jiminy Peak and Bousquet, who also have a 700-foot zip line. We loved the guided canopy tour at Zoar Outdoor. We’ve heard great things about the Catamount Aerial Adventure Park and Berkshire East Canopy Tours and can’t wait to get there.
We have enjoyed so many adventures up in the trees we felt qualified to create a guide of the best places to visit. Check out our suggestions to help plan your own outdoor aerial adventure. Then get out there and enjoy!
Check out one of their three zip line canopy tours led by experienced guides who click you in and out of each zip line. This experience will satisfy aerial adventurers from the beginning zip liner to the adrenaline junkie. Newly added at Berkshire East is their children’s Tree House Trail. This netted course is designed for children three years and up. For more fun hop on board their Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster, the longest of its kind in North America. If you are a mountain biker, be sure to leave time to enjoy the Thunder Mountain Bike Park.
Come ready to enjoy a self-guided aerial adventure park, situated 30 feet above the ground. You’ll find 40 obstacles including rope bridges, ladders, cargo nets and more. For a separate fee, visitors can try out the site’s 700-foot zip line that sits 40 feet in the air. For those who prefer keeping their feet on the ground, the fun doesn’t have to be airborne at Bousquet. Cool off on their waterslides or compete in a round of disc golf.
Pack up the family and head just over the border to Hillsdale, NY. Catamount is situated among the trees with 12 courses providing an exciting aerial forest adventure fun for all ability levels. You’ll be challenged to cross bridges, climb ladders, get around obstacles, and ride zip lines.
Enjoy a day at this aerial adventure park where you will be challenged by their self-guided aerial forest ropes course consisting of six individual courses for a variety of ability levels. You’ll be tested to new heights as you make way past over 70 challenges. Be sure to save time to ride their mountain coaster, alpine slide, and soaring eagle swing at their mountain adventure park. What a great day we had here!
The Berkshires newest aerial adventure park consists of nine acres and is open year-round. It features eight unique self-guided tree-to-tree aerial courses ranging from lower trails to much higher and more difficult courses providing an amazing experience within nature. Obstacles include rock walls, zip lines on saddles and snowboards, open zips, and more. The property also allows visitors to explore the trails on the grounds at no extra charge. There are several opportunities to learn about the natural surroundings, with a mission to provide sustainable forestry options for the community.
Here you will find a one of a kind zip line experience. You have to go to experience the adrenaline rush on their exhilarating 3-hour zip line canopy tour. It consists of 11 scenic zip lines, 2 sky bridges, and 3 rappels. If that isn’t enough, you can continue your day on one of the guided rafting or kayaking experiences afterward.
This should be enough to get you excited for a different way to experience a day in the beautiful Berkshires. High in the sky or not, there is something for everyone awaiting you here.
Kelly was born and raised in the Berkshires and is now living and raising her three children, Max, McKenna, and Shea with her husband Mark in Hinsdale. She is the founder of Berkshire Family Focus, the one-stop online source for family activities, events, information and more in Berkshire County.