Tree top adventures (also known as high ropes courses) are starting to become more popular and are popping up in forest preserves around the country. They are usually a combination of obstacle courses and zip lines anywhere from 30-40 feet in the air. We visited Go Ape, which can be found in the Bemis Woods Forest Preserve in Western Springs, IL.
But don’t worry, your safety is one of the main concerns at Go Ape. Full disclosure: I have a fear of heights. But the combination of safety gear and instruction made me feel at ease. Plus, I had done this once before (and quite a few years ago). You step into a climbing harness that is connected to two safety lines, a pulley and a carabiner, that both clip onto the safety wire. You are also walked through a very thorough instruction session before you enter the course. You only unclip when you are moving from one station to the next and clipping back in is easy.
There are 5 stations at this location, each one a little higher than the other (gulp). There are also varying levels of difficulty. The easy and moderate challenges require some balance and arm strength. If you are not up for the difficult ones, they have an alternate route that will get you right back on track. Here is an example of the easy vs. difficult routes:
My SO was trying to do as many obstacles as possible hands-free. I, on the other hand, felt much more comfortable with at least one hand on my safety line. You can also move along the course at your own pace but, traffic jams can occur. Like, when you are not sure how you are going to get across this one:
If you are going to try this one, make sure you check out the restrictions and recommendations on their FAQ page. My one recommendation is to wear clothing and shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Because, if you are anything like me, there will be nothing graceful about your landing at the end of the zip line.
P.S. – I found out about this place on Groupon. It may not be available right now, but these kinds of things return eventually. Also, a quick Google search of “Go Ape Chicago promo codes” provided a number of discount options as well.