I’ll admit it, its been more than a few years since I’ve climbed a tree. When the opportunity came to explore the treetops near home in Knoxville, Tennessee, I jumped on it.
Navitat Canopy Adventure Knoxville is part of the Ijams Nature Center which is conveniently located just a few minutes from downtown. Although it is just minutes from civilization, Ijams boasts miles of hiking trails, bike trails, kids play areas, a lake for canoeing and kayaking and more. It is repeatedly voted one of the best attractions in Knoxville and I would have to agree.
After a quick check in at the front desk and a short walk into the woods I met up with Stephanie, a spunky 20 something that was ready to gear me up and run me through a quick but thorough safety and instruction course complete with a practice run just a few feet off of the ground. I soon passed the required checks and ventured on down the trail to the center of the canopy adventure which they call the treehouse and rightfully so. It looks like it comes straight out of a children’s book. It serves as the central hub to all of the ropes courses and is complete with water, saftey guides and cameras to catch a selfie (no personal cameras are allowed on course). All of the 6 Navitat courses start from the treehouse and end on the ground nearby so you can really maximize your time.
I started with a beginners course to get a better handle of the equipment and I must say that even the beginners course made my palms sweat a little bit. Every section of the course seemed to take me further from the treehouse and the ground. I completed the beginners course, with the help of the lifeguard on the ground coaching me through the obstacles. Lifeguards follow your progress on the ground and make sure you don’t endanger yourself. In my case they also cheered me on and let me know the best ways to conquer the courses.
After racing through the intermediate course, I was covered in sweat and ready for an advanced course. If you’re looking for a laid back activity, Navitat may not be for you, they make you work for it! The advanced course was like jumping onto the set of American Ninja Warrior or at least it felt that way to an out of shape dad. The obstacles were tougher and required a lot more balance and stamina. There were less and less rope handles to grab ahold of and the planks to walk across seemed to sway more. I do admit that I did fall once, and of course the safety gear did its work. I cheated my way through the toughest sections and passed the course. The breeze from a rewarding zipline back to the ground cooled me as I decided whether or not to try one last course. My arms were tired, I was soaked in sweat and I was ready for lunch, but its not every day that you get to play in the woods so I headed back up the steps to the treehouse for another run.