TreeTop Adventures is a Safe, Fun Challenge High in the Trees (5 stars)

Instead of running an obstacle course on the ground, how about taking to the trees at TreeTop Adventures? You put on a harness, get safely connected to tree-level lines that crisscross their outdoor play space, and then zipline, climb ladders, and cross wooden bridges. It’s an athletic challenge, but they have levels from beginner to expert, and it’s fun for kids, too.

I recently reviewed the ropes course destination Heritage Adventure Park (4.5 stars),¬†which was built by the same contractor, and was glad to discover that TreeTop Adventures, which in Canton, Massachusetts is closer to Boston. They’re also bigger, with 10 ropes courses available.

Training is easy and clearly explained, and you get to try a ground-level practice course before you go up. Then you have your choice of very easy, easy, medium, and difficult courses. Plan to spend at least two hours, possibly three to get the full experience.

Sometimes you climb a ladder, or zip down a zipline. At other times, you must cross a deliberately broken up wooden bridge, its individual parts swinging. Working out how to get through the variety of “elements” is great fun if you are even slightly athletic. We chose a green course, the easiest, the one that’s meant for kids as young as seven, but still found it sufficiently challenging! The courses are genuinely an athletic experience, so you can’t think of it as just a playground. (Having a zero-effort or zipline course would have been so nice for an out-of-shape guy like me.)

The courses are built around a two-clip system, so even when you are moving from one location to the next, you are always clipped on at least once to thick metal lines wrapped around the trees. The clips are built so that it’s impossible to have both clips open simultaneously, making it super safe, and we never felt scared even high up in the trees. (At the Heritage Adventure Park, I did take a fall and wasn’t scared at all to get caught by my safety harness.) However, we did sometimes need to bang our clips against a tree, to unclip and re-clip.

Sunscreen and bug spray are available for free, but it’s not too sunny under the shade of the trees, and because it hadn’t rained recently, we found no bugs. There’s plenty of free water available, too. The platforms seemed very strong, clean, and recently built, but the gloves made me wonder how often they get washed or replaced — rarely, it would seem. The harness can chafe you around your neck, so don’t wear a shirt with a low neckline. Obviously, wear sports shoes. It was tempting for me to steady myself both with my gloved hand but also with my elbow or underarm, but try to avoid this because it could lead to bruising.

The courses are constructed so that kids can follow them, too, meaning that the guide wires were sometimes too low for a tall guy like me. Do you know what I mean? Standing more than six feet above a wooden bridge, a guide wire placed at three feet is not going to help me much from toppling over. However, I was grateful to find sometimes an additional and very high guide wire. Perfect. Some of the challenges, such as one where you crawl through a wooden tube, are just too small for me. Wear long pants to protect your knees. In between challenges, you can take a break on a static platform mounted high in a tree, but the platforms are just three feet below the guide wires, requiring some uncomfortable squatting. (I would have preferred a couple of stair steps down to the platform from the guideline.)

For someone like me, too tall, too out of shape, and unathletic, a ropes course may come with too many challenges. But if you enjoy a physical challenge, TreeTop Adventures is a perfect experience which I must give 5 stars to.

They are open seven days a week, and make sure to consider the night climbing on Fridays and Saturdays, and the nighttime Glow in the Park special events. They’ll have a Halloween event in October as well. A personal guide is far from necessary — it couldn’t be simpler to figure out — but you can hire one if you like. Coming in the afternoon or early evening is often best, to avoid the summer camp kids who arrive most summer mornings.

See treetopcanton.com.