AP NEWS

Opening of Texas TreeVentures high ropes course nears

February 28, 2019

One of the newest recreational features in The Woodlands is expected to be open for business by mid-April, officials confirmed on Thursday, Feb. 28.

Texas TreeVentures, the high ropes, tree-top adventure course being constructed in Rob Fleming Park in the Village of Creekside Park, is slated to open to customers on Friday, April 19, barring any delays to the last elements of construction on the facility, said Chris Nunes, the manager of The Woodlands Township Parks and Recreation Department.

“This idea was born out of discussions of what to do at Rob Fleming Park when we produced a five-year capital improvement plan for this site,” Nunes said of how Texas TreeVentures was formulated. “The original plan included an alpine tower, a dog park, lights on the (sports fields) and ziplines. This is part of our overall vision of how to ‘activate people’ to get outside in the vision of George Mitchell.”

Nunes said once the idea for the high ropes course was presented in early 2018, township officials readily approved the plan, funding and details for the park. Over the next 12 to 14 months, he added, a course engineer and construction firm were tabbed, a name and logo were chosen and construction began in October, 2018. Now, the with the projected open date about six weeks away, a cadre of staff are getting intensive training on how the ropes course works, safety issues and other elements of managing the unique facility.

“We are excited,” Nunes said of the looming opening of the park. “It is going to be fun. It has been a real challenging 18 months going from an idea in board chambers to opening this in mid-April and getting the public out here.”

Although closed to the public due to safety issues, Nunes gave The Villager a tour of the complex on Thursday, Feb. 28, as the team of employees were going through training exercises and construction workers were fine tuning elements of the cabins that will serve patrons and customers. The high ropes facility and course are tucked away in a wooded area directly behind the Rob Fleming Park Recreation Center in the Village of Creekside Park. In to prevent vandals or others from sneaking onto the site, the area is monitored 24 hours a day by Harris County constables as well as other township officials in conjunction with security cameras.

The overall facility includes an elaborate, wooden playground structure that is free for families to use and a large picnic grounds that will have dozens of picnic tables as well as cornhole boards and horseshoe pits. At the Texas TreeVentures facility, customers will walk up onto an elevated wooden boardwalk that leads to a series of small elevated cabins. Customers will go into a main office to register, buy tickets and get set up with safety gear that includes a mandatory helmet, a secure rock-climbing harness with two belay ropes outfitted with carabiners. Attendees must wear closed toe shoes on the course and can opt to wear safety gloves if they choose.

Once outfitted, the customers will be guided onto the course by staff — all of whom will be trained as Level 1 certified guides under the Association of Challenge Course Technology, an organization that coordinates adventure course training standards.

Nunes said customers can choose numerous optional courses or routes through the four story wooden structure, opting for varying levels of difficulty and obstacles — including plank bridges, 55-gallon drums, aerial kayaks, rope nettings and other elements. Those who go on the course will generally be connected to the rope network via the two carabiner-equipped safety ropes attached to their harness.

“It is challenge by choice. It is managed risk. The experience of walking out of a house is different than traditional courses where (people) climb from the ground up. The experience of walking out of a house (at this course) is a lot different,” Nunes explained. “I’ve been out on it three times already. It is a lot of fun just being able to be a kid again.”

Tickets pricing for the facility is still in the development stage, but Nunes said adults who register online will get a three-hour session for $40. In-person ticket purchases will cost $45 for adults. A reduced price rate for children age 13 or younger is still being decided upon, and groups and other large parties can rent the facility, too, he added.

In addition to the high ropes course, the area is adjacent to two nature and hiking paths that allow people walking in the area to see the complex and become interested, Nunes said. The new course compliments that vision of George Mitchell of experiencing nature and the outdoors by being so close to both the Spring Creek Greenway and the Spring Creek Nature Trail.

Safety is also a high priority, and part of the complex design is built so that emergency responders such as ambulances, EMTs, law enforcement officials or fire and rescue officials can drive up to the course to deal with potential injuries or accidents. The staff on site is fully trained in rescuing customers who may have taken on too much of the challenge, Nunes added, and they are also hyper-focused on customer safety.

“When we started the design aspect, we looked at those (safety) elements,” Nunes added. “We are working with fire officials and the Harris County Constables (Office) to make sure out emergency plans are in place.”

Although the chill of the Texas winter was still in the air and foliage on the trees surrounding the structure is still somewhat absent, the facility gives off a majestic feel. Nunes said that will become even more impressive when spring arrives and the flora of the area blooms.

“Imagine this place when all the trees are in full bloom,” he said.

jeff.forward@chron.com