Tag Archives: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring

Swing Through Fall Foliage at These Five Outdoor Ropes Courses

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of three young children.  She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them hereherehere, here, here.]

Veer off the beaten fall festival path this year with a visit to one of our area’s outdoor ropes courses. As mentioned in this KFDC post, autumn is a great time to enjoy the activity, when you can  take in views of the foliage, and at some places even immerse right in it. Once known primarily for “team building,” ropes courses have become a family-friendly activity, where daredevils young and old can challenge their strength, balance, bravery and problem-solving.  If you have a child old enough for the adventure — and if you want to get in on the fun, too — here are some options to explore. Catch them while the foliage is hot!

 

The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
The largest forest-based adventure park in town, featuring 15 separate trails of varying levels of difficulty. [This is a KFDC favorite!  See this post for a detailed experience.]

Location: 16701 Norwood Rd | Sandy Spring, MD
Fall Hours: Friday 3-10pm | Saturday 9am – 10pm | Sunday 9am – 7pm
Ages: 5 & up; each child 5-6 must be accompanied by an adult age 18+
Pricing: $23-73
Deals: Last Call Tickets
Gloves: Available for purchase
Events: Glow In The Park
Additional Features: Food Truck, Axe Throwing
Learn more and reserve tickets

* * * 

Tree Trekkers
Open since 2019, this newer course is located on 30 acres of protected forest and features over 250 obstacles and ziplines.

Location: 9560 Old National Pike | Frederick, MD
Fall Hours: Thursday-Sunday; check calendar for up-to-date hours
Ages: 4 & up; each child 4-7 must be accompanied by an adult age 18+
Pricing: $35-64
Deals: Thrifty Thursdays, After Work Adventure Ticket, Twilight Ticket, Movie Star Ticket
Gloves: Provided
Events: Trek or Treat October 20-21 & 27-28
Learn more and reserve tickets

* * * 

Go Ape Zipline & Adventure Park
A treetop adventure chain, featuring 50-foot high tree-to-tree crossings, ziplines, and Tarzan swings.

Location: Derwood, MD & Springfield, VA
Fall Hours: Friday-Sunday; check website for up-to-date hours
Ages: All ages – minimum height 3’3”; children 5 & under must be accompanied by an adult age 18+ (one adult per 2 kids); children 6-15 must be supervised by an adult
Pricing: $40-65
Deals: Frequent Flyer Pass
Gloves: Available for purchase
Events: Nights at Height, Frights at Height, Haunted Trails
Additional Features:  Forest EscAPE, STEM Program, Axe Throwing
Learn more and reserve tickets

* * * 

Terrapin Adventures
This course offers a variety of aerial thrills and challenges, inspired by vacation-type adventures from around the world.

Location: 8600 Foundry Street, Savage MD
Fall Hours: 10am – 5pm; check booking page for up-to-date hours
Ages: Kids Pass: 5 & up; all participants required to climb over a three-foot-tall railing unaided; Adventure Park Experience: 8+ and 4 feet tall
Pricing: $19-79
Gloves: Not provided (purchase some like this in advance)
Events: Parent’s Night Out
Additional Features: Climbing Tower, Giant Swing, Archery
Learn more and reserve tickets

* * * 

Climb UPton
A 90-element adventure located in Upton Hill Regional Park where climbers can choose their challenge with easy, medium and hard features.

Location:  6060 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
Fall Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 4-8pm, Friday 4-9pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am – 9pm
Ages: 5 and up; children 5-7 must be 48” and accompanied by an adult age 18+; children 8-15 must be 51” to go without an adult
Pricing: $20-50
Deals: Student Night, Date Night, Groups of 6+
Gloves: Not provided (purchase some like this in advance)
Events: Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt, Turkey Scavenger Hunt
Additional Features: Upton Hill Regional Park also offers Mini Golf, Batting Cages, Playground, Water Park (seasonal)
Learn more and reserve tickets

 

Do you know of other outdoor ropes courses in the area? Tell us in the comments!

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Filed under Fall, Maryland, Outdoor, Virginia

Scenes from a Visit to the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring

 

If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, then you probably already know that we love the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring.  The aerial forest experience that has adventure-goers navigating ropes courses and ziplines in the trees is such a fun and thrilling challenge — and easily one of our favorite adventures in the DC area.

The Adventure Park opened in 2011 and has since become the largest manmade outdoor climbing park in the worldWe first experienced it not long after its launch, when Owen was just six years old, and we’ve visited at least once a year since then with the exception of the last Covid year, often as a special end of summer break outing, and with both kids since Sasha has been old enough to join.  A visit there is a bit of a splurge, so it’s not something we do frequently.

That first visit, Owen could only go on a couple of easier courses for 5-6 year olds, and he had to be accompanied by an adult (me).  As he got older he could tackle more — and on his own.  On a recent visit, he and his friends were making their way from tree to tree high, high up in the air, maneuvering across wooden planks, grabbing for dangling ropes, and whizzing down zip lines.

Sasha and I stayed on the intermediate trails, which are very fun and challenging, just not quite as intense or as high as the advanced black and double black routes.  It’s pretty awesome to see both of my kids conquer the courses and to think about how much they’ve grown — physically, mentally, and emotionally — since their first experiences on the beginner purples.  It’s like our visits to the Adventure Park are kind of a benchmark for their development.

So, as mentioned, it’s usually a tradition for us to go at the end of summer, but after this weird bummer of a Covid school year, I decided an early summer trip there was well deserved.  (And still planning to bring them before they head back to the classroom in August, too. )

In case it isn’t evident, I highly recommend experiencing the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, especially for active kids who love the outdoors and a good challenge!  Kids as young as 5 can go, but ages 5-6 can only do the easiest purple courses and must always be with an adult.  Ages 7-11 can climb all of the intermediate courses with an adult,  ages 12-13 can do the advanced black courses with an adult, and ages 14 and up can do everything solo.

Current pricing for a three-hour climb (prices are Mon-Thurs | Fri-Sun):
Adult (age 12+): $60 | 64
Junior (age 7-11): $50 | 54
Child (age 5-6): $16 | 20

Other special climbs:
Last Call that begins later in the day: $45/adult, $16/child
Glow in the Park evening climbs on certain dates: $56
Keep it Lit adults only on certain date: $49

Good things to know if you plan to go:
* You must reserve in advance. Admission is timed-entry and spots can fill up, especially on weekends.
* Wear comfortable clothes that you can move around in easily. I like to wear something with a pocket that zips or stays closed to hold my keys and phone.
* The park no longer provides gloves, but you can BYO or buy them there for $3, which I recommend.
* Closed-toed shoes are required.
* There is a short orientation on climbing (pay attention!) and a chance to practice using the gear before you get on the courses.
* Plan to leave belongings in your car or store in a small locker for $3. (I bring my phone and keys, but keep them in a secure pocket.)
* Concessions are available from the Munch Mobile food truck (and the fare is good) or you can BYO. There are picnic tables on the grounds outside of the climbing area for eating.
* Portable restrooms are outside the climbing area, and I recommend stopping at them before starting your climb — no one wants to be stuck in the trees with an urgent need to go.
* If you’re feeling really ambitious and want to do a double outing, the park is located right by the Underground Railroad Experience Trail

The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is located at 16701 Norwood Road in Sandy Spring, MD. It’s open every day through summer with varying hours, and mostly weekends in the fall and spring.

And since I brought my phone on my climb to snap pics, here are more scenes from our recent visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2021, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Adventure in the Trees

Walking in the trees

 

Ever since we went zip lining in Costa Rica this past Spring Break, Owen has been asking to go again.  And despite feeling downright terrified as I soared between trees hundreds of feet above the rainforest floor while dangling from a wire, I also found it wildly exhilarating and wanted to go again myself.

I knew of a few places in the area that had ropes courses and zip lines, but when I checked them out several months ago, both Owen and I were disappointed to learn that kids had to be at least 7 years old to participate. But as summer break started to wind down, and I was thinking of something special the two of us could do before he returned to school, I decided to look into it again. (Okay, true confession: I was actually going to call and see if I could persuade them to make an exception for a 6-year-old who had previous experience on the ropes. Yeah, I’m that mom.)

Turned out to be somewhat of an auspicious move. By checking back, I learned that The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland started offering a package especially for children ages 5-6. Accompanied by an adult (and it must be a one-to-one ratio), they have access to their two easiest ropes courses for 90 minutes. This all costs $34 total for kid and adult, which is quite reasonable in my opinion. Update: Rates have changed — see the website for current pricing.

So, last week Owen and I made our way out to Sandy Spring, about a 45-minute drive for us from Capitol Hill.  I had called ahead to make a reservation, but was told it wasn’t necessary.  When we arrived around 11am, it seemed to be fairly busy, but not too crowded. The park is five acres and there are 180 obstacles throughout the 10 courses amid the trees — plenty of room for everyone.

Learning the ropes on practice lines

Learning the ropes on practice lines

It took about 15 minutes total to register and get our gear, then we waited another few minutes for our intro session to start.  This was a 10-minute run-down of park procedures, and more importantly, a lesson in how to use our carabiners and lock/unlock them on the lines with tweezles (just learned that term myself; it’s the thingy you use to lock and unlock the carabiners). After a quick practice session on ground-level lines, they let us loose to play in the woods. That’s right, it’s a self-guided adventure, but staff are on hand to help if and when it’s needed.

Ready to hit the course

Ready to hit the course

All of the courses begin at one main platform near the entrance to the park.  The two that Owen and I could do together were only about 15-20 feet off the ground at their highest, but lofty and challenging enough to make it a thrilling experience.  (The other courses are higher and, I imagine, harder, but we could only see them in the distance.) We crossed from platform to platform on all kinds of “bridges” made from ropes, wooden boards and slats, nets, and wires.  We walked up a thick tree branch, ducked through large metal hoops, and whizzed gleefully down zip lines.

One of the first passes

One of the first passes

Gotta jump through hoops

Gotta jump through hoops

Scaling the platform

Scaling the platform

And not only was it a joy to see Owen having a blast, it was proud parent moment to see him handling it all himself.  He clipped onto the lines carefully but confidently, and navigated the courses like a pro.

Taking in the view below

Taking in the view below

Ending on a zippy note

Ending on a zippy note

I think we exceeded our 90 minutes a bit, but we kind of had to in order to finish the course lest we get stuck in the trees. No one said a thing about it when we returned our gear and checked out.  I should note that the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, which added to the experience.

Ready for my ride down the zip line

Ready for my ride down the zip line

So, it may not be Costa Rica, but for a local adventure in the trees, it was pretty darn fun. One of my favorite active pursuits in awhile, for sure, and Owen wholeheartedly agrees.

The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is located in Sandy Spring, Md, about 15 miles past Silver Spring. It’s open daily through September 3, and general admission hours are 9am – 8pm, with the last ticket sold at 6:30pm. After that it’s open weekends through November 25 from 9am – dusk, and during September and October on Thursdays from 3pm – dusk and Fridays from 1pm – dusk. Besides the package for 5-6-year-olds, admission for a 3-hour adventure is $49/ages 12 and up, $44/ages 10-11, $39/ages 7-9. Update:  Rates have changed — see the website for current pricing.

If you plan to go:

– Read the FAQ section on the website to know exactly what you’re getting into.

– Be sure to build in time to get out there and register, etc.  That all took a bit longer than I anticipated.

– Leave your belongings in the car. You can check your keys at the gear station, and get a ticket to pick them up after. (I shoved my phone in my pocket so I could take photos, but they recommend leaving that behind, too.)

– There are photographers capturing photos in the park that you can purchase after, though kind of pricey (I can’t remember exactly how much).

– There is a pavilion just outside the entrance with picnic tables and vending machines.

– Port-a-Potties are also available near the parking lot, likely strategically placed so guests can make a pit stop before committing to a long course in the treetops.

 

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Filed under Fall, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend