Adventure in the Treetops

Last week, my husband and I went away for a couple of days. We hadn’t been able to coordinate vacation time all summer so this was our last chance.

Having discussed our plans a few weeks earlier, we decided to do something we had wanted to do years ago but never got around to it. And we had thought we’d go on this adventure with our children. Instead it was just the two of us, and we enjoyed it tremendously.

Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve was our destination. This 100,000 acre plot of land has a lot to offer its visitors. Campsites, cabins, hiking trails, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and dog sledding are some of the outdoor adventures in which visitors can partake.

The property is also a research facility and education centre, and many universities from around the world come to Haliburton Forest to work and study the area.

But what brought my husband and I to Haliburton Forest was none of the above mentioned. We went to walk in the treetops on the world’s longest canopy walkway and to visit the Wolf Centre.

The adventure started with a brief introduction from our tour guide and then each treetrekker introduced themselves. There were only four of us on this particular day, however the tour can accommodate up to twenty hikers and it runs twice a day.

After introductions, we climbed into a van and drove about 20 minutes on the property, past campsites and lakes, where our guide explained to us a little bit about the history of Haliburton Forest.

Once we arrived at our destination, we disembarked and hiked a short distance to a small shed. Here we picked up life-jackets and paddles. Then we walked down a trail to the water’s edge where two voyageur style canoes waited. Each canoe can hold ten passengers.

Our guide gave us a quick paddling lesson, and then we boarded our canoe for a short 600 metre paddle across the lake.

With the canoe docked and our life-jackets hanging from tree branches, we set out on another short hike to another small shed. Here, our tour guide handed us our harnesses and ropes and then we headed out on another trail. This one a little longer and much steeper.

Halfway up a hill, we stopped at a flattened resting area, where our guide showed us how to put on our harnesses. This same area was also a practice station. We learned how to open our carabiner-type clips, walk on a board and slide the clips along a guide wire, and then transfer over to the next wire safely. Oh, and she also told us the oldest visitor to walk the canopy trail was a 95-year-old woman.

With our lesson over, we hiked the rest of the way up the hill to a platform, the beginning of our canopy trail. Here, the guide lowered the first section of a bridge with a crank, like a drawbridge. Before we embarked, as protocol our guide asked us a few questions – like, are you here to walk this trail at your own risk and free-will, and are you comfortable with the equipment and its safe use (or something like that).

The canopy tour was a most enjoyable trip and great fun. At no time did I ever feel scared, even when the bridges bounced a little. The scenery was great, especially at the platform where you could look out over a pond and trees didn’t hamper your view. And it went by fast. I would have gladly walked back to the beginning, but unlike most trails, this is a one-way route.

After we arrived back to our car, we took a short drive to the wolf centre. This is a 15-acre enclosure where a pack of seven wolves live. We were able to view them from the observation room as all seven were nearby. The observation rooms have one way glass, and while the wolves can’t see you, they can smell and hear visitors. The staff at the centre were very informative, and I learned a lot about these magnificent creatures.

If you live in Ontario or coming for a visit, perhaps this is something you would be interested in. I definitely recommend this adventure!

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