TreeRunner Adventure Park opens at Oakland University

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 25, 2019

 The TreeRunner Adventure Park at Oakland University currently has 60 challenge elements with 10 zip lines. The total park grounds measure five acres.

The TreeRunner Adventure Park at Oakland University currently has 60 challenge elements with 10 zip lines. The total park grounds measure five acres.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Andrew Hackert, 9, of Macomb Township, crosses an obstacle, which spells “OU,” on the blue level “Waterfall” trail at Oakland University’s new TreeRunner Adventure Park on opening day June 21.

Andrew Hackert, 9, of Macomb Township, crosses an obstacle, which spells “OU,” on the blue level “Waterfall” trail at Oakland University’s new TreeRunner Adventure Park on opening day June 21.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROCHESTER — Nothing to do this summer?

Go climb a tree.

No, really.

Oakland University’s new TreeRunner Adventure Park, which features a collection of aerial treetop trails, recently opened to the public.

Thomas Knuth, the director of operations for TreeRunner, said the company’s newest aerial climbing park is one of four in a park system that also includes locations in West Bloomfield, Grand Rapids and Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Oakland University site, Knuth said, is “truly unique.”

“The trees there are absolutely gorgeous. They are old-growth maple and oak, and there’s a lot of hickory in there. It’s a diverse forest,” he explained. “And there’s everything from birds to squirrels to turkeys, as well as a huge amount of white-tailed deer on that property that travel through.”

The adventure park at OU currently features five aerial climbing trails — with over 60 obstacles and zip lines — and three challenge levels, from beginner to expert.

Climbers — who must be 7 or older to use the park — choose their trail, depending on their age and climbing experience.

Before venturing up the trees, climbers are fitted with harnesses secured to safety cables, and they receive an orientation and practice session instruction. They can then head up to one of five color-coded trails — which consist of platforms in the trees connected by cables, wood and rope — for a three-hour adventure.

“The park is a system of obstacle courses strung through the trees. Customers obviously have to get through the obstacle by climbing through, and they have to get from one tree to the other. Sometimes, the obstacles are suspended 40 feet in the air. We also include the fun and exciting zip lines, so every few obstacles, you get a fun zip line. Our zip lines are from 50 feet to 200 feet, but we have quite a few of them,” Knuth explained.

The company plans to expand the trails on campus seasonally to make the park bigger.

“We are starting with five trails, and by the end of the season, we will increase the number to seven,” Knuth said.

Greg Jordan, the director of university recreation and well-being, said TreeRunner utilizes an area of campus that otherwise would not be developed.

“Located in a wooded area immediately east of the entrance to the Meadowbrook Amphitheatre, off of Walton, that treed area is not going to be developed for anything else, so it’s a perfect use of space,” Jordan said. “You’re going to see deer, turkey, coyotes and the occasional fox. There’s all sorts of wildlife there.”

Jordan said the park — which has already hired several OU students to staff it — is a great option for students and staff who enjoy being active.

“We know that people who are physically active and engaged, especially in outdoor activities, have a much better outlook on life. They are more ready and able to do their work, teach a class or even clean a facility, or whatever their role might be,” he said.

As an added bonus, TreeRunner offers discounts to OU students, faculty and staff during general admission hours.

Jordan is hopeful the park will bring a wealth of new people to campus.

“(It will) perhaps introduce them to part of Oakland University they are not familiar with, and that might lead to more interaction with the community and the university,” he said.

Several events are planned throughout the climbing season at OU, including themed glow nights, college nights, carnival days and pirate adventures.

TreeRunner Adventure Park is open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays. Mondays are available for group reservations. For more information, call (248) 759-5222 or visit www.treerunnerou.com.

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