This summer marked my first ever visit to the Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. I don’t know how I ever missed this great spot living my whole life in Ontario! I visited with my husband and our two teenage sons – the main interest for these three was the Thunderbird Twin-Zip Lines, which is Canada’s Longest Twin Zip line. We had already done the Triple Zips at Blue Mountain the year before, so the idea of flying down on the BIG zip-line just around the corner at Scenic Caves was a must!
To be honest I had been slightly nervous about my visit to the caves – I experienced vertigo a number of times in my past and was worried the zip-line and the suspension bridge might be a problem for me. Any of you who have felt paralyzed by this will know exactly why I was hesitant! Not only is an awful feeling, it can be super embarrassing!
First, a little about the Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. This spot has been open to visitors since 1932. The centre offers the Self-Guided Caves trail, Treetop Canopy Walking plus two zip-lines, Scenic Suspension Bridge, Thunderbird Twin-Zip Ride, Nature Trails, Eco-Adventure Tours, Mini Golf, Gemstone Mining, a kids train ride called Rocky the Train which departs from Big Rock Railroad, Fish pond and plenty of scenic spots to sit and enjoy nature. The centre also has a snack bar and gift shop. (It’s worth noting that the caves are not stroller friendly so expect to use a baby carrier or backpack.)
Located near the town of Collingwood, about two hours north of Toronto, this spot will be a full day trip for many of our readers. Expect to spend 2-3 hours or even half a day making your way around the trails and be sure to wear closed toes shoes, they actually will not let you enter without them (although they do sell them on the property).
Our pass gave us access to the property’s self-guided trails, caves, suspension bridge and Thunderbird Twin Zip-Lines. It was a busy day so we had to wait for others along the path up to the zip-lines – we took our time and visited the caves along the way.
I was really surprised, and impressed by the way the caves have been pretty much left alone – the ‘walkways’ are mostly just routes over the natural, existing cavern floors. Rails have been placed only where necessary to lend a hand over the slippery rocks, along with metal walkways and staircases taking you high over deep crevices and down into the caves. Like most of this summer it was VERY hot and humid day – so descending into the cool, dark caves was a welcome experience! I was amazed at how cold the refrigerator cave was and would not have been surprised to see ice inside!
The famous cave ‘Fat Man’s Misery’ was a bit too busy to warrant the wait for my teen boys who were much more interested in getting to the zip-lines! It looked like a lot of fun though and definitely not a one size fits all cave, I can imagine there have been a few who may have regretted attempting it!
The Thunderbird Twin-Zip
Next up… the Thunderbird Twin-Zip Lines! We had made it to the top, time to line-up with the other adventurers! The line moved pretty quickly, we had already filled out our waivers before we arrived so we fast tracked it a bit and were getting ‘suited’ up in no time. Safety helmet on, safety harness and backpack on – ok ready to go! Well almost… before you get to climb up to the launch deck of Canada’s longest twin zip-line (2550 feet long!) you have to complete a training session on a short demo zip-line, this is to make sure you know how to slow down on the real thing and only takes a few minutes. After that you get to climb the staircase to the top. Now this was the only time during my trip that I got nervous – I really had to do a mind control trick to keep stepping my way up to the top – I was actually out of breath because I went so fast! (if you have no fear of heights I’m sure this is actually a pleasant and fun climb!).
At the top we were hooked onto the zip-lines and on our way down before I could even think about being nervous. Which was perfect because there really wasn’t anything to be nervous about – the ride down was really fun… pretty relaxing really, and the view was spectacular! I wish it could have lasted longer! And Yes I want to do it again! For anyone thinking they can’t do this zip-line – just get on it, honestly there is nothing to be fearful of!
How do you get back to the top? You walk. The trail back is an easy winding uphill hike, it’s mostly tree covered, so it’s nice and shady and very pretty… this is also another way to get to the 420 ft scenic suspension bridge. I was actually expecting the bridge to feel alot longer and higher, it was not in the least bit scary to walk across. It just bounces very gently with your footsteps, and the view it offers of the mountain, Collingwood and the blue waters of Georgian Bay are spectacular. I can imagine this is an ideal spot to view the fall colours from!
Once we reached the top, we fed the fish in the pond for a bit and had a snack at the snack bar before heading home!
Scenic Caves is definitely worth a visit (or two) and I am already considering getting back this winter to see all that the Scenic Caves Nordic Adventures has to offer! And my fear of heights? Whatever… I got this!