Bolton Landing ropes course a ‘great family adventure’

The hum of zip line cables greets you as you step out of your car at Adirondack Extreme Adventure Ro
Tyler Eldridge smiles as he flies down one of Adirondack Extreme's giant zip lines.
Tyler Eldridge smiles as he flies down one of Adirondack Extreme's giant zip lines.

Adirondack Extreme Adventure

The hum of zip line cables greets you as you step out of your car at Adirondack Extreme Adventure Ropes Course. The grounds, at the base of the mountains in Bolton Landing, echo with the sounds of laughter and shouting climbers.

As you walk toward the log house that is the main building, you look up at the obstacles tucked away in the trees and think you’ll never be able to do that. Well, you are about to find out if that is true. Or at least I was.

Adirondack Extreme was founded by Jamie Johnson in 2007. Before founding the ropes course, Johnson spent time abroad, and before that he worked at a toy company in Hoboken, New Jersey. He said he had seen similar courses in Europe and Canada, and thought it was time to bring one closer to home.

“We are the first type of place like this in the U.S.,” said Johnson.

Area ropes courses

Adirondack Extreme, Bolton Landing. 494-7200,

Catamount Aerial Adventure Park, South Egremont, Mass. 413-528-1262,

Engelke Farm, Garfield Road, Troy. 275-8433,

Howe Caverns High Adventure, Howes Cave. 296-8900,

New York Zipline Adventure Tours, Hunter Mountain, Hunter. 263-4388,

Whitewater Challengers, North River. 800-443-8554,

The park, which occupies seven acres — with plans to expand for the 2016 or 2017 season — features more than 10 adult courses, with each one getting slightly more challenging as you advance.

In addition to the adult courses, the park also offers a kids course and a junior adults course for younger climbers.

Johnson said what makes the park unique is that it truly is a family experience. Everyone, he said, not just the kids, gets up on the course.

“It is a great family adventure,” said Johnson.

The adventure begins with a 15-minute safety session with the guides. After you learn how to use your safety harness and clip in to the zip lines, you are off climbing.

The obstacles started off simple enough — a rope bridge, a wall to climb over. As you move through the course, however, things quickly get more challenging. Soon, you’re trying to navigate bridges of suspended logs, swinging from tree to tree on a Tarzan rope and gaining altitude the entire time.

At first you don’t even notice that the ground is getting farther and farther away.

I made it through the first course and thought I’d give the next a try. There, I was swinging from platform to platform at nearly 50 feet in the air.

The zip lines get longer, faster and higher. Part way through the second section, you soar down a line that follows the path of a stream that runs through the middle of the course.

I was almost to the end when I saw it. The obstacle I had seen on my drive in that I said I could never do. The gap between the trees was perhaps 10 feet and the only way across was a series of vertically hanging logs with pegs at the bottom for you to stand on.

I watched the people in front of me navigate. I formulated a plan and thought it would be easy.

I scrapped the plan about two seconds after the first step. I clung to the first log as it turned slowly, trying to get my foot onto the next one.

Finally, I managed to get my foot on the next peg. Or not. It was the wrong peg, and I ended up tangled in my safety lines. I had to backtrack a bit. This time I got it. Slowly, I made my way across, transferring one foot at a time from log to log.

When I reached solid ground on the other side, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Once you’ve completed as many courses as you feel up to, there is a reward waiting for you in the form of two giant towers near the main building. Two long zip lines to end your day at the park.

Riding that line, you know you’ve made it, but you start to think you could have gone farther on the courses.

Maybe next time.

Johnson said the park is busy in July and August. Reservations are required, and he said booking five to seven days in advance is usually recommended to ensure a spot. The course operates rain or shine.

Here’s a link to all the stories we’ve written about fun things to do this summer. And share your ideas for Summer Days at or at [email protected]

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