a peek inside the fishbowl

01 Sep, 2014

A treetop adventure to cap off the summer

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa|travel talk

I am preparing another issue of the Extra Helping to go out this week. Woot! If you live/shop/love the Westboro/West Wellie part of Ottawa and you like things that sparkle you will not want to miss this one. You can read more about the Extra Helping and sign up right here.

I have this compulsion in which I need to DO STUFF; go places, see things, mark a special day with something memorable. And so when a special day comes up, like the last long weekend before the start of school, I can’t let it go by without Doing Something Awesome. And that, my friends, is how we decided to find a place for an aerial tour/zipline adventure nearish to Ottawa. There are several from which to choose:

We tried booking a reservation at the first two places and were unsuccessful, but that was totally our fault since we were trying to book our treetop adventure on the day of. (Note to self: zip lines and aerial adventures need to be booked ahead of time.) Mark called les Chutes, who have a smaller treetop obstacle course that includes a few short zips, AND they didn’t require a reservation. Phew.

Les Chutes Coulogne is about a two-hour drive from Ottawa and I’d forgotten, but it’s one of my favourite drives. We took one route to get there, another to come back (via Shawville) and it is so pretty… rolling hills and farmland and red barns and fields of sunflowers and clouds and peeks at valley below along a twisty two-lane highway. It’s like driving through a dream.

We were in too much of a hurry to pack a lunch so we stopped at a chip truck called Pique Patate in Mansfield-et-Pontefract before we arrived for our aerial tour. There is no shortage of casse croutes in Quebec, as many of you probably know, so we were relatively certain we’d find one along the way. This one was located at a busy intersection across from a cemetery, and lunch for four was only $25. I had a pogo with a side of yellow sweet mustard.

I’m glad we stopped because there is virtually no food to be had at Chutes Coulogne outside of chips and chocolate bars. But that is neither here nor there.

We arrived, paid up, and waited to be outfitted with our gear. While we waited we checked out a play area for the younger set. They had the kind of play structures that, frankly, should be installed in every playground everywhere:

Balancing act, at Chutes Coulogne

The kiddy area, at Chutes Coulogne Park

The kiddy area at Chutes Coulogne

20140830_140049

After awhile we were collected by a nice young fellow and who set us up with our gear and gave us a lesson in climbing and zipping.

Sidebar for us vain types: harnesses and helmets are not meant to be stylish. I wore long shorts and wished I’d thought to wear my knee-length yoga pants and stretchy top as it would have been more comfortable.

There are a few different packages at Chutes Coulogne but we decided to go with the obstacle course. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because the lady in the office told us that it was a half hour experience, but it turned out to be a pretty good choice for our family. I also think it’d be a good one for people who’ve never done anything like this before.

The course consists of ten different challenges: ladders, suspended bridges, high wires, and a few zips. It starts easy and gradually gets more difficult. Some family members were a bit more confident than others, but we all did it, and lived to tell the tale.

A view of the obstacle course, Chutes Coulogne Park

Chutes Coulogne Park

Along the obstacle course, at Chutes Coulogne Park

the obstacle course at Chutes Coulogne Park

Along the obstacle course, at Chutes Coulogne Park

Chutes Coulogne Park

This one was tricky! at Chutes Coulogne Park

I think it took us an hour to get through, and it was enough for me. I was pretty pooped at the end of it and even though a couple of the younger family members were keen to buy admission to the longer zip lines I couldn’t find it in me to do it. Next time for sure.

Instead we went explored les Chutes historical trail, which is included in the cost of admission. The area has a really interesting history, and I recommend visitors not skip it. This self-guided tour illustrates an important chapter in our Canadian history: the lumber trade. Men living in the wilderness, giving their blood, sweat, and tears, and more often than not, their lives, to make a few dollars in return for a commodity everyone needed.

There is an easy walking path with signs along the way, as well as some spectacular views of the waterfall, a man-made log chute, and a landscape forever changed by commercial interests:

Don't miss the historical walk at Chutes Coulogne Park

On the bridge, Chutes Coulogne Park

The bridge, Chutes Coulogne Park

Near the log chute, Chutes Coulogne Park

Chutes Coulogne Park

A view of the lookout, Chutes Coulogne Park

Stay on the trail!

Next time I think we might find the courage to venture forth on the via ferrata, which we could see along the walking trail. The website describes it this way: “This rare activity is the only of its kind in the region and one of the few in Canada. Located in the Canyon of the Coulonge River, it consists of a climb/walk along the canyon’s rock face, using cables and anchor points to help you progress along the way. It’s like mountain climbing without the skills being required.” (!) Would you do it?

Via ferrata, Chutes Coulogne Park

This package includes a long zip line across the water (you can see the tiny guy in this photo if you look closely):

Zipline at Chutes Coulogne

It was quite the day. After it was all said and done we climbed back in the car, dusty and weary, but proud of our courage and our achievements. It was a great way to greet the new school year.


1 Response to "A treetop adventure to cap off the summer"

1 | Ahoy

September 2nd, 2014 at 11:32 am

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Very cool. We’re going to try it….soon!

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Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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