Adventures in Nature Across the Triangle
Climb, fly and paddle your way through some of the Triangle’s greatest adventures
Paddle Creek is a well-known staple for nature lovers.
Photo courtesy of Paddle Creek
Over the course of a few weeks, our family has floated, climbed and soared our way through the gorgeous Carolina outdoors. And we did it all without traveling more than 35 minutes from our Raleigh home.
Businesses throughout the Triangle offer opportunities to invest in adventure. You can find an activity that will fit every family type, age and skill level. Be ready for heart-pumping, adrenaline-rushing fun, because these adventures will change the way you see the world. The only question is: Which one will your family try first?
TreeRunner Raleigh Adventure Park
12804 Norwood Rd., Raleigh
Halfway between Raleigh and Durham, nestled on the David R. Kahn Jewish Community Campus, 70 obstacles and zip lines zigzag throughout forested land, offering a wide variety of challenges and adventures. Each day at TreeRunner Raleigh Adventure Park starts with a guided safety training session to help guests feel confident using their harness and clipping mechanisms. The way these magnetic mechanisms work ensures that only one line can be unattached at any given time, so guests are always safely harnessed as they move about the trees.
After training, guests are free to climb the cargo rope to the main deck. From there, they can choose one of seven routes, categorized by difficulty. A friendly park guide is always on the main deck to help guests decide which course to try based on their experience, skill level and, most importantly, what they enjoy doing. There are three beginner routes, two intermediate routes and two expert routes. The park requires that guests finish a beginner route before moving on to an intermediate course, and finish an intermediate course before moving on to the expert route.
You’ll hear great music and encouraging instructions throughout the park. Even the youngest adventurers (ages 4-7) can experience their own course a little closer to the ground.
Why you will love it: You can make the day your own! Even the most adventurous and confident teens can be humbled by the difficult courses, while kids who may be a little more cautious will experience joy and a self-confidence boost while accomplishing the beginning and intermediate courses.
Go Ape! Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh
“Always stay attached!” The park’s slogan not only reminds guests to physically stay clipped in throughout the park, but also indirectly reminds them that this this is a place where their bond as a family and their attachment to nature can grow. Go Ape! has been thrilling families in the Triangle since 2015. The park offers two very distinct opportunities to accommodate multiple skill levels.
Treetop Journey introduces the high ropes experience to all ages. Guests choose from two routes on one platform. In both, guests are attached to a continuous wire that leads them through obstacles that culminate in a zip line. Because of this constant attachment, climbers don’t need to worry about clipping on or off — they can just concentrate on the fun of traipsing through the trees.
Ages 10 and older are invited to try the Treetop Adventure, a journey through the tops of the forest canopy. After training, participants are encouraged to go through the next five stations at their own pace. Each course starts with a gated station that has a ladder leading up to the trees, and ends with an exhilarating ride down a zip line.
Why you will love it: The absolute vastness of the forest makes you forget that you are just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of a big city.
Triangle Skydiving Center
480 Airport Rd., Suite 200, Louisburg
What is North Carolina known for if not for its beautiful blue skies? And what better way to show your sense of adventure than by sailing through the blue with nothing but a parachute to glide you to the green grass below?
Don’t be shy to admit if you’re one of the many people who think, “Well, skydiving is something I wanted to do before I had kids.” You’re not alone. Jumping out of a plane seems risky. But when it comes down to it, it is — statistically speaking — safe. According to Skydiving.com, you are more likely to be killed by a bee, dog or lightning than you are in a skydiving incident.
Photo courtesy of Triangle Skydiving Center
Author Mandy Howard checks skydiving off her bucket list.
Is it really a family adventure? Absolutely! And although potential skydivers must be age 18 to jump, skydiving may be one of the most accommodating adventures multigenerational families could consider.
Triangle Skydiving Center not only accommodates adults of all ages, it also welcomes adventure-seekers with mobility issues. Recently, Triangle Skydiving Center hosted a family whose son lost the use of his legs in a car accident. Employees say that he landed with his tandem jumper with exhilaration and achievement on his face — and there wasn’t a dry eye on the field.
Imagine surprising your high school graduate with a skydiving trip. Or maybe, instead of buying your college graduate a new watch, you could give him the sky and encourage him, symbolically, to reach for it and live life with his arms wide open.
Why you will love it: It’s a bucket list item for a reason. It will literally change how you see the world.
Multiple locations near Falls Lake and the Neuse River
A well-known staple for local nature lovers, Paddle Creek offers a wide variety of ways to float freely through the Triangle’s hidden waterways. Among other options, customers can choose the “Quick Trip,” in which the river is happy to do the work for you, a half-day Neuse River excursion, or an exploration of Robertson Millpond Preserve’s sunken forest.
Paddle Creek provides transportation for its customers to or from their car and will set them up in the water with their personal flotation device and a paddle board, or a solo or tandem kayak. The quick trip is an ideal family adventure. It’s long enough for families to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and possibly see deer, osprey, owls, beavers and muskrats, and it is short and simple enough that they can’t make a wrong turn.
Why you will love it: Rocked gently by the flow of the river and surrounded completely by nature, you and your family will want to escape to the sanctuary of the water time and again.
Mandy Howard is a freelance writer and mother of three in Raleigh who literally took a leap of faith to experience these adventures with her kids for the purpose of writing this article.