New adventure park set to open Saturday near Mallorytown, Ont.

Treetop Trekking Forest Adventure Park opens May 14, 2022. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

A new adventure park is set to open in the 1000 Islands, and it's not for the faint of heart, taking guests up high among the trees.

Treetop Trekking welcomes those who are looking for a challenge.

"We've got bridges, we've got balance logs, and of course zip lines are mixed in too, so that's everyone’s favourite part," said marketing director Mike Stiell. "We have activities for all ages, which makes it a great place to come and visit."

Located between Gananoque and Brockville on the 1000 Islands Parkway, the park is a partnership with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC).

"Back in 2015, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission hired us to come in and design and build this adventure park and they operated it for a number of years," Stiell added.

Formerly known as Skywood Eco Adventure Park, the site was closed in 2020.

"Last summer, they (the SLPC) put it out to tender for companies to come in and bid on a project to operate it for them, so we couldn't say no," said Steill. "Of course, we had to submit a proposal and we were lucky enough to be the selected ones, so we're here and operating this beautiful park that we've been able to design and now operating so we're very happy."

The company has 14 locations across Ontario and Quebec. It is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Inside the park, adventurers can reach heights of up to 40 feet in some areas, climbing, crawling and walking over obstacles through many routes.

"When you're on some of them, you feel like you are going to fall off a little bit but it almost makes it more exciting because you know you are safe," said Emily Carlson from Tourism Kingston. "I went zip lining once but it was not like this at all. This is really, really fun."

Every guest is suppled with a harness and must go through a mandatory safety briefing and orientation before hitting the course.

"They help you kind of trust your harness a bit before so even if you are a little scared of heights, you won’t feel super panicked," said Victoria Monahan, also with Tourism Kingston. "It is fun being high up, in my opinion. We only did the beginner run but hopefully we will get to do some harder ones."

The park offers seven different aerial courses, with guests gradually moving up to options that are more difficult. There is also a treehouse village and a discovery course for younger children.

"Our treewalk village is a whole network of colourful treehouses connected by wooden ramps, net walkways, and slides so kids can just go in there and it's just like a dream world," Stiell said, saying the ideal age is between three and seven. "But there is no minimum age, so it’s great for families with young kids."

The discovery kids courses are aimed at kids aged five to eight.

"Kids are wearing a harness and helmet but they are a little bit lower to the ground and going across bridges and zip lines and that sort of stuff," Stiell said.

He noted that if people are afraid of heights, once they try it, that fear just fades away.

"Any of our staff will tell you, that's their favourite thing is when someone comes and they are nervous of heights but they are willing to give it a try," said Stiell.

"They have the support from our staff and from their friends and family and they do it, they push their limits a little bit and by the end of the day, nine times out of ten, they are laughing and having a great time and they go home with such a sense of accomplishment," he added. "They tell all their friends about it and typically they can't wait to come back."

SLPC chair Bob Runciman was also on hand at the site to discuss the partnership between the commission and Treetop Trekking.

"This was a decision we made some time ago, to look at the idea of having a partnership, and were very fortunate that we landed with the original designers of this site," Runciman said. "We couldn't do better in my view."

Runciman said that transferring the management responsibilities to Treetop has also opened up other opportunities on the 32-acre site, teasing the development of added services and activities.

"We hope we can have some announcements in the not-too-distant future, which will not only grow tourism sector in this part of the province, but will see us have extended stays of visitors as well," he said.

Saturday, May 14 is the first day the new site will be open to the public, but the park is already sold out, with a few remaining spots open for Sunday, May 15.

For more information and to reserve a spot, check out https://treetoptrekking.com/park/1000-islands/