Swiss Family summer jaunt

Living in the Hudson Valley, we have no cause for complaint when it comes to finding something both athletic and adventurous to do in the great outdoors – and often we can find that right in our own backyards. Sometimes, though, you just feel like a change of scenery and trying something new. A day trip to Catamount Aerial Adventure Park in the Berkshire Mountains on the border of New York and Massachusetts will not only provide a change of scenery, but also elevate your viewpoint (literally) as you traverse the treetops in what is billed as “an exciting aerial forest adventure,” appropriate for ages 7 and up.

“This is our fourth season,” says Heather White, Catamount’s communications manager. The Park began as a way to extend the winter activities at the ski resort through all four seasons, she says; and, other than November and April when they close to transition between activities, Catamount is now open year-round. This type of park is popular in Europe, says White, “but at the time the Park [at Catamount] was built, there was no other park anything like it anywhere in our vicinity. We were one of the first, and are still New England’s largest park of this type.”

In a ten-acre wooded setting near the base of the ski area, the Catamount Aerial Adventure Park consists of more than 170 platforms installed in the trees and connected by various configurations of cable, wood, rope and ziplines to form bridges. There are 12 separate and distinct courses in the Park with varying degrees of difficulty, all clearly labeled and color-coded for ease of use, like ski trails.

Participants are fitted with harnesses and gloves, and after being led through a safety and Park usage demonstration, are free to navigate their chosen treetop courses. The courses are layered at some points, with activities going on above and below the adventurer, and two of the more challenging routes actually leave the Aerial Park and enter the ski area, going over the trails. As the visitor progresses through the Park, the bridges become less stable, requiring more balance, agility, focus and arm strength. Not to worry, though: The Park is built to meet the standards of governing safety organizations, and its slogan pretty much sums up its philosophy: “Safety comes first, and the fun and excitement will come naturally.”

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