High ropes, zip line course to open at Stony Creek

Major changes proposed for boat launch area

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 5, 2017


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On April 14, the public will be able to climb through the treetops and take a zip line to the ground at Stony Creek Metropark.

Go Ape! Treetop Adventures began building courses with varying levels of difficulty at the park’s Southdale and Northdale picnic areas last spring.

Hilary Simmet, community relations specialist for the Huron-Clinton Metropark Authority, said the HCMA visited a Go Ape! course at the Cleveland Metroparks to find out what it was like and if it would work here.

“The area (at Stony Creek Metropark) was big enough to house an entire course and had the right type of trees and layout,” Simmet said. “It’s very exciting because our course actually has the longest zip line in Michigan, so that’s kind of different.”

The high ropes course, she said, is similar to but differs from the Adventure Parks located in West Bloomfield and Frankenmuth. Go Ape! has 16 courses in the U.S. and 31 courses in the U.K. This will be the first in Michigan.

“You start at lower levels toward the bottom of the trees, and as you work your way up higher, it gets more advanced,” Simmet said. “Ours has three separate (sites) with zip lines at the end.”

According to the Go Ape! website, the Stony Creek Metropark course’s highest platform will be 50 feet, its longest crossing will be 71 feet, its longest zip line will be 609 feet, and the total course length will be 2,790 feet.

The course will feature five zip lines; a swing featuring a 30-foot drop into a cargo net; a series of rope ladders and bridges, spiderwebs and trapezes; and more than 40 obstacles situated 40 feet high or higher in the forest canopy, according to a Go Ape! press release.

According to the press release, the company covered the costs of the course, and the HCMA will share in the revenue from ticket sales, so no public dollars will be spent on building, maintaining or operating the course.

“The Huron-Clinton Metroparks system is a premier recreational resource in southeast Michigan,” said Go Ape! Managing Director Chris Swallow. “We’re excited to become a part of the region’s vibrant outdoor culture.”

The cost is $58 for ages 16 and older and $38 for ages 10 to 15.

Boat launch enhancements
On March 9, the Washington Township Planning Commission unanimously approved site plans from engineering firm Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc. for Stony Creek Landing, a series of enhancements to the boat launch area at Stony Creek Metropark.

“One of the main focuses for the change in the use of this area was because we have so many bikers and runners who use this area, and we’re seeing less boat usage,” said project engineer Kyle Seidel. “Everyone at the HCMA and our design firm is very excited about this project.”

Proposed changes include repurposing an existing building used for boat storage as a 5,000-square-foot waterfront restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining areas; a viewing platform overlooking the lake; a larger parking lot with a relocated entrance; expanded boat launch and kayak put-in areas; a bike repair station; and rerouting the paved pedestrian path along the lake to avoid vehicle traffic.

George Phifer, director of the HCMA, said the project resulted from an internal process within the HCMA in which staff brainstormed ways to enhance the park environment. He said the boat launch area is a popular staging spot for walkers, runners, bikers, hikers and inline skaters.

“The area is so heavily used, we wanted to make sure we gave people the opportunity to have a full-day experience,” Phifer said. “After exercising, at some point they might want to get a light snack or something healthy.”

Stacey Meixner, secretary for the Washington Township Planning and Zoning Department, said the Washington Township Board of Trustees do not have to approve the proposed improvements.

“On a personal level, I visit the park almost every single day on my lunch hour,” Meixner said. “I’m excited about the improvements. I think they’re a good thing for the whole area.”

Stony Creek Metropark is located at 4300 Main Park Drive.

For more information about the high ropes course, visit www.goape.com. For more information about the enhancements, call Stony Creek Metropark at (586) 781-4242.