Caffeine no help? Need some extra zip? Crave the Zen-like experience of being one with a
Carolinian forest? Perhaps simply enjoy biking on trails or leisurely water travel aboard canoes or kayaks? Something more cerebral like viewing stars? I have just the place for you - Long Point Eco-Adventures in Norfolk County's Turkey Point, rated by the
Canadian Tourism Commission as a "Canadian Signature Experience Destination!" (Yes, you can purchase impressive t-shirts.)
Let's get right to the main event, the challenging zip line with its spectacular views for the
Type A personality who craves topiary excess, 2.5 hours of an invigorating "canopy tour" that includes 8 zip lines, 2 suspension sky-bridges, 14 platforms (large and comfy) and a 12 m (40-foot) piece-of-cake rappel down two tantalizing green ropes dangling at the end.
As we meander like squirrels (the flying variety) high above the forest floor, we observe panoramic views of the Long Point Bay World Biosphere and Turkey Point Marsh. Don't worry; you are accompanied by friendly, capable guides who help instill confidence, and will have you soon loudly bellowing à la Johnny Weissmuller (aka Tarzan) as you launch into the expectant air. Mike McArthur, an owner along with Dave Pond, says "We create an exceptional experience for every visitor." I must concur.
Arriving, we encounter a strange-aluminum type building with a Byzantine-like bulbous dome perched on top. (the observatory) There's a training session, an equipment orientation session on the main floor where we are fitted with safety gear with includes a sporty red construction-worker hat and gloves. We head out to the baby-zip area just like the bunny hill on ski slopes - fitted with a low training cable to practice techniques.
My observation of teenagers and adults alike here is that there are four basic zip styles ranging from - knees held up just a teeny bit, knees bunched firmly into the chest, the more flamboyant legs straight out, and my favourite, the timorous fetal position (just kidding).
Soon we are on the main course, hooked onto zip lines and imitating an aviary, navigating briskly through the trees. Guides attempt to inform us of the historical and ecological features of the area, but it is futile as we are enjoying too much excitement. There are bridge crossings along narrow timbers and roped sides that sway, but the best in the series of zips is the last 229 m (750 foot) zip which allows the weightier of us to gather some steam as we sail over a boardwalk alongside the suspension bridges and across marsh areas replete with wildlife and vegetation. It's reverse evolution. We become tree shrews! We experience pure thrill and sense of accomplishment - no wonder they offer this activity for school groups and business teams.
Accolades are myriad. Christina Harden from the Greater Essex School Board cheerfully reports that she had "a GREAT time and will come back!" Debi Foster on a team-building expedition says that it "created a tighter bond, and inspired and re-engaged the team."
If you wish to stay and enjoy a unique hotel experience, Long Point Eco-Adventures also provides luxury glamping accommodations (wilderness suite's) on the property, inspired by Mike and Dave's exploit in Africa climbing
Mount Kilimanjaro. The tent accommodations provide all the comforts of home: king and queen beds, flush toilet and shower, hot and cold water, private deck, hydro outlets, free parking, a concierge ? tour desk, business centre and gift shop.
Overlooking the amazing view of Long Point Bay, one can do as much or as little as one wants, including sipping some local wine from Burning Kiln Winery in nearby St. Williams. In the morning, you can bike (ravines to the east are awe-inspiring) or take a walk through Carolinian Canada. Rough eh! Rates are $179.99 per night, double occupancy.
Want to see farther than
Sarah Palin's Russia? The "Long Point Observatory" happens to be located in one of the darkest points in Southern Ontario, and its 16" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope reveals celestial objects 10,000 times fainter than the faintest objects visible to the naked eye. Tours run Friday and Saturday night from approximately 8:30 pm-10:30 pm. Space is limited and reservations are required. Rates: Adult: $30; Youth: $20.
Big Creek Guided Paddling is not located at Long Point Eco-Adventures but rather off-site at Big Creek. Referred to as the "Canadian Amazon," this gentle waterway winds south through the Carolinian forests into the Big Creek National Wildlife Area, an internationally recognized marsh and wetland, and it finally empties into Long Point Inner Bay. Afternoon departures only, September through October. (See website below.)
Mountain biking offers some of the best trail riding in Ontario with over 30 m (50 km) of single track trail that includes trails along 30.5 m (100 foot) deep cut ridges adjacent to the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and through both Turkey Point Provincial Park and St. Williams Conservation Reserve as well as adjacent lands including a winding trail through the award-winning Burning Kiln Winery and it's vineyards.
Norfolk County provides a treasure trove of recreational pursuits, ideal for the entire family. Besides boasting
the only provincial park with a golf course, Turkey Point is also a naturalist's paradise with a diverse ecosystem that includes marshes, bluffs and oak savannah. Hiking trails lead to a fish culture station, a hatchery pond, and panoramic views of Lake Erie. Camp on the bluffs, swim and sail at the beach, fish for perch or play nine holes of golf. Bottom line - Norfolk provides much more zip and zest in your life for sure!
Long Point Eco-Adventures
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.