Thrill-seekers and nature-lovers: fasten your harness and get ready to explore the outdoors from a new perspective—the treetops! Exhilarating views, physical and mental challenges and adrenaline-pumping excitement await. Afraid of heights? You can do this, too! Numerous safety features allow even the shakiest to feel secure on these awesome arbor adventures. (Fair warning: parents, you might actually love this more than your kids.)
Mount Hermon Adventures, Santa Cruz
Who doesn’t want to spend a day hanging out in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains? Clip into the self-directed Sequoia Aerial Adventure which features 40 elements (with a maximum of 80 feet in height) and two zip lines, or opt for the Redwood Canopy Tour which includes two guides, six zip lines and two sky bridges at 150 feet in height. Either way, you’ll explore the redwoods in a way you never have before. Adults can celebrate with a “grand” margarita on the woodsy patio of the nearby Cowboy Bar and Grill.
17 Conference Dr
Ages: 10 & up
Tree Top Sac, Sacramento
Perfect for slightly younger kids and those who aren’t as accustomed to getting off the ground, Tree Top Sac offers adventures for adrenaline-seekers ages seven and older. Throughout five different parcours (courses), you’ll make your way across tight wires, bridges and slacklines 20 feet high. Each parcour ends with a zip line and a soft (but thrilling) landing.
1300 Lake Washington Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA
Ages: 7 & up
Sonoma Zipline Adventures, Sonoma
Up high in the sweet-scented Sonoma redwoods, the Tree Tops Course at Sonoma Zipline Adventures will take you 250 feet above ground and up to 40 mph on seven zip lines and two sky bridges. The Forest Flight comes with a personal guide and seven zip lines including one that’s 800 feet long. On Fridays and Saturdays, try the Night Flight—a bucolic escapade under the moon and stars! For a unique getaway, stay the night in a treehouse (dinner and breakfast included) and wake up next to the birds singing in the canopies.
6250 Bohemian Highway
Ages: 10 & up
Challenge Sonoma, Sonoma
A non-profit ropes course that’s been around for 30 years, Challenge Sonoma is located on Sonoma Mountain just four miles from the town of Sonoma. Open days for families and individuals are offered at least once a month. You and your kiddos will find ground-level cooperative games, low-challenge activities and several high-challenges, including the Vertical Playpen, the Burma Bridge and a scenic zip line along a creek. Rest up afterwards with a picnic at a nearby winery like B.R. Cohn Winery. You’ve earned it!
Glen Ellen, CA
Ages: 10 & up
Quarry Park Adventures, Rocklin
This unique setting is not exactly in the treetops, but you’ll still reach soaring heights and have spectacular views. Climb, twist and swing through this incredible 60-foot deep, 160-year old rock quarry. Along with aerial adventures, you’ll find rock climbing, paddle boats, rappelling and zip lines. Three levels of aerial challenges are available on Pinnacle Pete’s Aerial Adventure, including more than 60 elements and heights of up to three stories high. In fall and winter, adventures are available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and groups can book ahead of time throughout the week. Check the website for updates and current opening status.
5373 Pacific St
Ages: Guests under 12 must weigh at least 45 lbs and be accompanied by someone 14 or older.
Fort Miley (Pacific Leadership Institute), San Francisco
For an easily accessible adventure nestled in four acres of forest within the city, this is a great opportunity for locals to spend time outdoors while building confidence, leadership and trust. The course builds from low elements to high ones, including an awesome zip line. Community days are offered on the first Sunday of every month from 1-4p.m. Participants must be 10 or older.
Fort Miley Ropes Course
San Francisco, CA
Ages: 10 & up (on community days)
McLaren Park (Outward Bound), San Francisco
Consisting of nine high ropes challenges as well as some low elements, this newly built course in San Francisco’s John McLaren Park is another great opportunity for city kids to get outside and challenge themselves at the same time. The course is open one Saturday each month for community members from 9 a.m. to 12:30 pm, and tours are accompanied by an Outward Bound instructor. Check the website for availability as spaces fill up quickly.
San Francisco, CA
Ages: 12 & up (on community days)
Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks, Tahoe
With a minimum age of five and three locations within the Tahoe region, families will find all kinds of adventure in the gorgeous canopies of the Tahoe National Forest. Most aerial courses involve anywhere from seven to twelve tree platforms. In between each one, you’ll navigate rope swings, bridges, swinging logs, tightropes, nets, horizontal climbing walls and more. Zip lines are interspersed throughout the courses, providing an exhilarating burst between challenging obstacles.
Locations: Tahoe City, Squaw Valley, Tahoe Vista
Ages: 5 & up
Margarita Adventures, Santa Margarita
If you’re heading to laidback Central Cal and you’re in the mood for more of a ride than a workout, check out Margarita Adventures where you can skip the ropes course and head straight to the zip lines. Hook up and fly down six zip lines over vineyards and rolling hills, and enjoy a stunning walk across a 300-foot suspension bridge. You can also join a nature and wildlife tour, either by Hummer or on foot, where a naturalist will point out native plants and wildlife in the area.
22719 El Camino Real
Santa Margarita, CA
Weight Requirements: Anyone between 30 and 275 lbs can ride (at least 36 inches tall)
—Julie Honan Johnston
featured photo by Go Tahoe North