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Outdoors

Common Ground offers different kind of adventure -- high above Lorain County

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    Participants are equipped with harnesses and safety lines as they walk a suspended bridge through treetops at Common Ground.

    JORDAN STEWART / COMMON GROUND TOURS

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    A tour member rides the zip line at Common Ground Canopy Tours in Oberlin.

    JORDAN STEWART / COMMON GROUND TOURS

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I saw a travel brochure last week advertising zip lining in the Costa Rican rainforest. While I don’t have the money, time or desire to venture to a Central American tropical destination right now, it prompted me to look at zip lining and canopy tours in Northeast Ohio.

To my surprise, there were a few places offering the experience with pretty impressive features.

A few years ago, I did a canopy tour in Strongsville at Go Ape, located in the Cleveland Metroparks. It was impressive as the tour took me through the treetops on zip lines. There were also plenty of suspended obstacles, swings and ladders that gave me an exhilarating experience. As someone who used to be afraid of heights when I was younger, it didn’t faze me much. The the harness and safety system was more secure than most roller coasters, giving you the extra sense of security. But then again, I’m always up for trying new things.

Here in Lorain County, there’s another location that offers a comprehensive experience zipping through trees and being out in nature. Common Ground Canopy Tours on Baird Road in Oberlin has a several hour experience which takes you in and out of the tree tops along the Vermilion River.

“We’re in the Vermilion River valley as it winds along our property,” said canopy tour manager Curtis Davies. “We have the best view of the woods you’re going to get.”

There are river crossings and seven zip lines ranging from 50 feet in length to 850 feet on the course.

“It’s a sheer sense of adventure,” Davies said. “You repel across 13 tree platforms.”

In addition to the zip lines, there are several spiral staircases, aerial bridges, floating islands and much more throughout the guided tour.

What separates Common Ground’s tours from others is their trips are fully guided by two staff members. You aren’t on your own any time during the trip, which for some can ease the anxiety of being 75 feet above ground for several hours.

“You’re up in the air 2ᄑ-3 hours,” Davies said. “Common Ground is all about challenge by choice and some of my favorite trips are people trying things for the first time.”

Certainly going up trees and racing throughout the tree tops suspended on a cord isn’t for everyone. But guiding adventure seekers is what Davies says Common Ground is all about. Whether you are looking for a thrill or hoping to spend time in nature, zip lining and a canopy tour is a great way to do just that. The Vermilion River and its trees this time of year are picturesque and the elevation is relatively high when most consider Oberlin and this area to be flat farmland.

The canopy tours are designed to accommodate groups of up to eight people. If you have more, there are plenty of staff available to have multiple groups according to Davies. On the other hand, if it’s just you and a friend or spouse, that can be arranged, too. Be sure to call ahead (707-2044) for a reservation. You can also set up your tour online through Common Ground’s website.

Common Ground’s season begins in March and runs trips through November.

Contact Brad Zahar at zaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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