Flying High in Tahoe’s treetops

Treetop Adventure Park | Michelle Allen

I grew up surrounded by oak and willow trees that have strong, low-lying branches that are perfect for climbing. Like many kids, I spent hours climbing and hanging out in trees. I felt a sense of freedom climbing higher and higher on the branches hoping to get close enough to touch the sky. The Tahoe Sierra can be a tough place to find a tree to climb because many of them are pine trees with high branches not easily reached from the ground.

High above the ground at Tahoe City Treetop. | Michelle Allen

My son Anikin has not had much experience climbing trees. Tahoe City Treetop, a ropes course that puts the participants high up in the large native pine and red cedar trees, was a solution; my son was able to climb to new heights.

I was eager to take Anikin to one of the treetop courses. There are three locations: Tahoe City Treetop, Squaw Valley Treetop and Tahoe Vista Treetop. I felt he was ready at 6 years old. I arranged for my husband Luke and Anikin to have a session at the Tahoe City Treetop course at Granlibakken Tahoe.

Getting the kids ready for a treetop adventure. | Michelle Allen

It was a pleasantly cool fall day and we arrived to see people working through obstacles and cruising on zip lines high in the trees above our heads. We checked in and the two were fitted with gear. Anikin was quiet and attentive as the staff adjusted his harness and gave him instructions on how the trolley mechanism works and how to engage and disengage from the course’s continuous cable.

After an extensive safety talk by one of the knowledgeable and friendly climbing staff, Anikin made one lap on the practice course to get checked out. He breezed through it and passed his test. He was anxious to check out the real courses. The Tahoe City course has 97 tree platforms with 60 ramps and various styles of suspension bridges. There are 27 zip lines ranging in length from 30 to 200 feet. The obstacles range in construction and difficulty but deliver big for seekers of high-flying adventure, like my guys Anikin and Luke.

Anikin Allen enjoying the course. | Michelle Allen

On recommendation from the staff, they started on a beginner course just past the practice course. It starts low to the ground and is a great introduction to basic course features. Anikin was timid at first and cautiously analyzed each obstacle. He watched Luke as he quickly and effortlessly glided across to the other side. Once he reached the other side, Luke turned back and yelled, “All clear!” to let Anikin know it was his turn.

Anikin was a bit hesitant, but with some encouraging words from his dad, he completed the task at hand. He moved through the course and became more and more confident. They finished their first course and Anikin was ready to tackle an intermediate course.

With each course he completed, Anikin was more sure of himself and he and Luke spent the next couple of hours conquering courses such as Fuzzy Bunny, Zipper and Rainbow. One of Anikin’s favorites is named Snowboard because he rode a snowboard across a suspension line.

When their time was up, Anikin didn’t want to leave but Luke promised to bring him back the following weekend.

Tahoe City Treetop has two beginner, six intermediate and two advanced courses. Anikin was not tall enough to do the advanced courses, which I understand are difficult and require a good bit of core strength.

Treetop’s three locations each have beginner, intermediate and advanced courses but are unique with different features and obstacles. Tahoe Vista’s courses are slightly more advanced than Tahoe City’s; Squaw Valley is considered the most advanced.

Participants must be 5 years old. To go on the advanced courses, participants must be 49 inches tall. The courses in Tahoe City and Tahoe Vista have 2.5 hour sessions. The sessions are self-guided; staff monitor from the ground. | tahoetreetop.com