Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Georgia Force Mascot Blu braves the heights while using his size 16 shoe to walk across a tightrope obstacle at Treetop Quest located at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center in Buford on Saturday. Treetop Quest is now open until Thanksgiving weekend and provides a high ropes course involving zip lines, rope swings and obstacles.
BUFORD -- During the cool Saturday afternoon, Brooke Saliba climbed, shimmied and crawled through the trees at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center. It was the first day the center's Treetop Quest had reopened after closing for months for winter.
"It was hard, but it was fun," the 13-year-old from Buford Middle School said. "I would like to come back."
And she wasn't the only one who came out to dangle from the trees.
Gwinnettians of all ages -- and species, like Georgia Force's mascot Blu -- celebrated the reopening by tackling the courses, including the newest one called Fly Through The Trees, which features six zip lines, with the longest one running 200 feet.
"This is more than a zip line -- you can go do a zip line anywhere," instructor Christine Whitley said. "Our courses are in the forest, so you're flying through the trees. These are challenging courses where you use both brain and body."
For those who have never been to the attraction, there are zip lines, monkey bridges, Tarzan swings and flying foxes at heights of up to 55 feet above the forest floor, plus it's eco-friendly.
"My kids are loving it," Suzanne Saliba of Dacula said about her three kids in the trees. "They're learning agility, building strength and creating confidence while having a good time."
There are five other courses at Treetop Quest, which are suitable for almost every age. The yellow course, Chick Pea, was designed for children ages 4 to 6. All of the obstacles are closer to the ground in case the little ones need help or extra encouragement.
Chirpy on a Branch course is appropriate for ages 7 and up. Swinging in the Trees is for 8 and up, while the courses Head in the Clouds and Your Place in the Sun is for kids 12 and older.
Some of the courses are easier than others. If you're not sure which course suits your abilities, there are plenty of instructors and employees to help out. They will let you know which adventure is low-intensity and fun, and which is high-altitude and challenging.
"People get so much out of these courses -- a sense of accomplishment," Whitley said. "It is a great way to build confidence while being physically active."
The attraction is only open on Saturdays and Sundays in March.
For more information and prices for Treetop Quest, visit www.gwinnettehc.org.