A new Wake County park attraction will let visitors swing through the trees like Tarzan and scamper over wobbly wooden bridges like Indiana Jones, ziplining from obstacle to obstacle.
About 50 people signed up for the first day Saturday at Blue Jay Point County Park. The park is about 30 minutes north of downtown Raleigh, near Falls Lake.
The course is the result of four years of planning between Wake County and a private partner, British company Go Ape, which built and operates the course.
Participants are securely harnessed in for the entire course for safety reasons. Everyone who wants to go on the course must also take a safety briefing that site manager Chip Schlegel said takes about an hour.
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The course takes about 90 minutes to two hours, Schlegel said.
“We did it last week as a kind of run-through,” Wake County Parks and Recreation Director Chris Snow said. “It took about three hours. People think you can just come out and do it, but it’s like a round of golf – it’s a full morning or afternoon.”
It’s not an every-week kind of activity – after taxes, Go Ape charges $59.71 for anyone 16 and older, and $38.76 for children ages 10-15 – but several people who have done the course said it’s worth checking out.
There are five stations in the wooded park, with ladders leading 15 or 20 feet up into platforms mounted on trees. People use bridges, or rope swings that end on cargo nets, to get from one platform to another. Then they hook up to a zipline and shoot through the forest to the next station.
Go Ape built the course and pays its staff. Under the terms of a 10-year deal signed in October, Wake County will receive between 3 and 8 percent of Go Ape’s earnings, depending on how many visitors use the course.
This is the company’s eighth course in the United States; it also operates nearly 30 in the United Kingdom.
“We have been really excited for this moment for a long time,” Go Ape co-owner Dan D’Agostino said at a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday.
Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson said he and his wife already got the chance to tackle the course, and they loved it.
“It is hugely fun, so I would encourage the citizens to come out and give it a shot,” he said.
Teens ages 16 and 17 can do the course on their own if they bring a waiver signed by a parent or guardian. For younger groups, there has to be at least one adult for every two children, according to the company’s website.
Go Ape employees said the course requires a fairly low level of fitness and can be done by people of all ages; the website says anyone who can climb a rope ladder can do the course.
But for those who don’t strap on a harness, there’s also a walking path through the woods underneath the course.
“So even if you can’t do it, you can walk along and follow your friends,” Schlegel said.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Go Ape at Blue Jay Point
What: A “treetop adventure” ropes and ziplining course
Where: 3200 Pleasant Union Church Road, Raleigh, NC 27614
When: Appointments can be made online at www.goape.com
Who: Open to people 10 and older, taller than 4 feet 7 inches and under 285 pounds