It used to be that Silver Bay was a town you drove past.  The majority of the town sits back from Highway 61 and many travelers to the North Shore didn't even realize it was there.  The taconite plant and a lone streetlight on Highway 61 was the only indication that there was anything there at all.  That is, until the summer of 2019 when the North Shore Adventure Park sprang up, seemingly overnight, along Highway 61 just past the street light.  

The North Shore Adventure Park is a part of Outdoor Venture Group, LLC, a company that designs, builds, and operates outdoor adventure parks in the US, a concept borrowed from Switzerland. Until now, they existed primarily on the east coast and their parks are mostly connected to larger attractions like museums and aquariums. The North Shore Adventure Park is their first midwestern endevor and is one of the few stand-alone parks they operate.

As a Silver Bay native, I've watched the park go up with anticipation it will help to bring visitors to Silver Bay.  The North SHore Adventure Park is a destionation that is designed to attract visitors of all ages and its location compliments local eatiers including Jimmy's Pizza and the North Shore Grill while also offering fine lodging accommodations like the nearby WIndsong Cottages in Beaver Bay

The park offers a kid area- called the Adventure Playground, for visitors starting at age 3.  Then the courses, referred to as "trails" at the park,  can be experiences by guests starting at age 7.  The trails have varying levels from easy/beginner to an advanced "double black" trail that requires one to be of very sound mind and body to undertake. Those who don't wish to climb on the trails can spend time on the ground, walking around and supporting fellow family members up in the trees.  From the youngest in the family to the oldest, the North Shore Adventure Park is something everyone can enjoy- a perfect family day trip.

It was on a bright, sunny day in early June when I had the opportunity to visit the North Shore Adventure Park for the first time. My climbing buddy and I met up with Natalie Rich, the park manager, to get the lay of the land of to experience one of the trails. Your day at the park starts out in the registration office where there is also a small gift shop.  You sign waivers and then head out to the park to watch a brief, very informative video on how the park operates. It is a self-guided tour where you use a series of locking carabineers to work your along the trail of your choosing.  Basic safety precuations are given- such as only having one person on an element at a time and no more than three people on a platform. Then, you get your harness on, grab some gloves, and get ready to climb!  At that point you pick a trail and go- it's that simple.  A pass gives you about 2 hours to take the trails, which means you can't complete all of them with a single day pass, but you could easily make it through 2-3 depending on your speed.

On this day, I had wanted to start easy.  I've done high ropes courses in the past and know that I'm not the biggest fan of heights. I like to freeze up on higher elements.  I can rock a zip line tour with little fear, but for some reason- adding in elements other than a zip line tends to get into my head. So, I figured I would start with a Yellow (beginner) or Blue(beginner/moderate) course would be the way to go. However, Natalie encouraged us to go on the Green (moderate) Grand Rapids trail.  The course starts at ground level and moves up into the trees as you progress along the different elements including swaying boards you have to steady as you move on at the same time.  Quite a fun challenge!  This course was challenging for me, but I didn't go up too high in height so I was able to complete it with little trepidation. 

As the trails are all self-guided you can go at your own pace as long as you are aware of any groups coming in behind you. I ended up having a father/son duo behind me and figured I should get a move on since I was being shown up by a 10 year old who seemed to have no fear at all. I think this duo actually helped me get over the fear I had and allowed me to complete the course in good time.  It was definitely a fun adventure in the trees and a great way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon.

We only did the one trail given the time constraints we had to do some other things that were on the list for the day.  I do wish I could have stayed longer and tried another one, but that just means I'll have to double back someday, probably with my kids, to experience the North Shore Adventure Park again.  It's definitely worth the stop, especially if you have kids in the 10-16 age range as they can do most of the trails. 

You can book your tickets ahead of time, or just stop in and buy tickets at arrival. Know that on a busy Saturday there may be some wait times to start a trail, but since the park can accommodate 120 climbers at a time, it shouldn't be too long of a wait. They frequently run specials so check out their Facebook page and the top banner on the website to see what savings are available.  The park is seasonal so add this to your "Must Do" list for your next summertime trip to the North Shore.

Check out highlights from my time on the North Shore Adventure Park Grand Rapids trail: