Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure at Jefferson Memorial Forest in KY
I was recently given the opportunity to check out Jefferson Memorial Forest’s new Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure. I will start by saying I have never done any other zip line or rope obstacle course before and am slightly afraid of heights, so this was a new experience for me!
The new treetop adventure marks the opening of Go Ape’s 12th course in the US and has been described as possibly their best one yet. Located near the forest’s visitor’s center, the course can be reached and viewed from the start of the trails.
After checking in at the registration table, adventure seekers are walked up to the training area where instructors help with securing a harness on each person. There is a scaled down version of the course in this area where visitors receive a briefing on what to expect along the course and instructions on properly securing oneself to each obstacle. During this time, I was given the opportunity to become familiar with my gear and practice attaching and detaching to the lines while my feet were still safely planted on the ground.
The instruction portion then moved onto an area where we further strengthened our training, but in an elevated area. I appreciated that I was given a chance to practice climbing a rope ladder, walk a tight rope and try out a zip line before jumping right into the much larger Go Ape course. Expect to spend about 30 minutes on training.
After you complete the training and are given the go-ahead by your instructor you are off to climb your first rope ladder up to the platform located 30-40 feet above the forest floor. In my opinion, the rope ladders are the most physically challenging part to each section. They are wobbly and require some upper body strength. There are signs at each new platform and rope ladder with instructions on how to properly place the carabiners and pulley. The carabiners and pulley are also color coded, which helps when trying to remember where to place them. You are on your own along the course, but instructors patrol the course below offering help and encouragement. Each person also has a safety whistle located in their harness should they need immediate help.
The course is comprised of 5 sections, 39 varying degrees of crossings and ending with a zip line at the end of each section. Each new section takes you higher into the forest’s canopy. There are crossings that are more challenging than others, but you can choose which ones you want to do. One of the more difficult ones I saw were suspended rings that required focus, balance and strength to cross. Some areas require crawling through enclosed nets, longer strides, strength to climb rope nets at the end of the Tarzan swings and running landings at the end of zip lines.
I liked that each section ended with a zip line that put you back on solid ground. Once you are at the end of each zip line, you walk to the next section where you have to climb a new rope ladder. Expect to work up a sweat and to be a little tired (to say the least)! I took advantage of the end of the zip lines by taking a short break before beginning a new section. You can also choose to end your adventure at the end of each zip line. There is water placed along the course, but make sure you are not hungry before beginning the course because you will be out on it for 2-3 hours.
I encourage families to check out the FAQ section for this course, where you can learn more about rules and tips for safely completing the course. The course is open to children 10 and over that are at least 4’7” tall, but I will stress that this activity takes focus and attention to detail to remain safe. I recommend wearing bermuda length shorts, capris or pants (depending on the temperature) and proper footwear (boots or tennis shoes). The harnesses are tight and will bunch clothing. Do not wear earrings and have long hair tied back. My head rubbed against wires and ropes all along the course. You will get dirty along the course! Leave your cell phone and other valuables at home or in your car. I thought I would have opportunities to take pictures of my adventure, but once I was 40’ above the ground, I did not want any distractions and safety was my main priority.
Experienced and new thrill-seekers will not be disappointed with the new Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure. Even though it was nerve-racking at times for me, it was also exhilarating and allowed me to go way out of my comfort zone! Check out Louisville’s great new attraction in the beautiful Jefferson Memorial Forest!
Pricing for the course:
Baboon ages 10-15: $37
Orangutans ages 16-17: $57
Gorillas ages 18 and over: $57
You are encouraged to book ahead of time because time slots do fill quickly especially on weekends.