Tucked away just steps away from the lake at Pittsburgh's North Park is the Go Ape Treetop Adventure obstacle course.
This one is almost a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of place (we sure did during our first visit to the park several years back) and is the kind of spot you really should plan to take some time to visit and enjoy.
We were invited to check out the course by our friends at Go Ape Pittsburgh and put the course to the test during a nice summer day out in nature!
Five Stages at Go Ape North Park
Before going to Go Ape, we really had no idea what to expect.
We knew that the minimum age for the course was 10, and there was a height requirement of 4 ft. 7 in. (as well as a maximum weight requirement of 285 lbs on the other side of the spectrum), but beyond that we had no clue how strenuous the course would be.
As it turns out, it was actually a healthy workout- especially in the summer heat.
The course consists of five tree-top obstacles that each take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to complete depending on the crowd and group speed at large.
After crossing several trees with obstacles of various difficulty levels, each individual course ends with a zipline of varying length that will take you back to ground level to head to the next course (the longest is 440 feet long!).
The climb up the rope ladder at the start of each course is among the most difficult part of the entire Go Ape experience, but those who go for the extreme paths will have an added challenge as well (these deserve their extreme title in every sense of the word- the crossings had awkward footings combined with upper-body strength components and we only recommend them for the most adventurous).
Two stations also feature Tarzan swings, an obstacle where you strap in and take a leap of faith off the platform and swing into a net strung up near an opposing tree. (This requires a bit of a climb to the next platform after the jump as well).
The first is at station one and is mandatory part of the course (it is more or less a zipline into a net if we are to be honest), while the second swing on the fifth station is an optional “extreme” jump that has a free fall element where you do feel the air time.
I loved the extreme jump, but Angie decided to skip it and looked at me with sheer terror as I made the leap. (And since we were so far ahead of the rest of our group, I almost did it again- it really was fun!)
Who is Best Suited for Go Ape?
When we first arrived, we thought that the youngest kids in our starting group would take the longest for these tasks (the youngest just turned 10 and appeared to struggle with the test course at the start), but after the first station they were keeping up with us as being among the fastest in the park.
On the flip side, older participants tend to be among the slower end, and the group in front of us (average age of mid-40s to early 50s) were quite vocal about being “too old for this….” and were kind enough to let us pass at one point which helped us speed things along considerably.
(Admittedly, the 10 year old's grandfather was also keeping up with us, so its more about your athleticism more than anything.)
Overall, the course itself is a nice workout for participants of all ages, but those who are older and/or less active will certainly feel the workout element of this one more.
We sure felt it the next day.
If you are able to blow through the course with minimal slow downs due to your starting group's dynamic, you'll be able to complete all stages of the course in about two hours. However, on a busy weekend when there are large starting groups every 30 minutes or so, plan to be at Go Ape for about three hours unless you are motioned along by those in front.
From there, relax, take a deep breath, and go for that Tarzan swing!
A Few Notes About Safety at Go Ape North Park
Go Ape is incredibly safety oriented, and all courses require that you are locked in via two if not three separate mechanisms (the third comes in to play when climbing the rope netting at the start of a station or trying the Tarzan swing).
The first 30-45 minutes of the experience is safety training with a guide, and focuses on the one golden rule of being locked in at any given time. It sounds complicated the first time, but by the fifth time you do it during checkouts you'll have it down and there is little worry from there.
So if safety is a concern here, don't fret- they've got this one covered!
Go Ape North Park is located at 991 Tennis Court Rd in Allison Park (inside North Park). We'd like to thank our friends at Go Ape for inviting us over to check out the course in North Park. Advanced booking is required. As always, all opinions are our own.