Thrill Time

The Snow might be gone, but the excitement continues with spring’s arrival

By Lou Sullivan

Whether it’s zip lining through a forest, taking a breathtaking ride down an Alpine slide, rock-climbing or mountain biking, New England is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts once spring arrives. Why head for the mountains after the snow is gone? Here’s why: Whether you’re a daredevil or a bit on the cautious side, young or old, there’s something for everyone once the weather warms up.

Maine isn’t called “Vacationland” solely for its winter skiing and summer beachside resorts. From Sugarloaf to Sunday River, there are all sorts of adventures and activities that will get your heart pumping. At Sugarloaf, the Outpost Adventure Center offers Segway tours, canoe rentals, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. If you’re seeking a little high anxiety, ride a chairlift to the sky and zip line across the mountain.

Sunday River is one of New England’s most expansive ski resorts, and in summer all those chairlifts provide easy access to spectacular mountaintop views. The youngsters can head for the bungee trampoline and the climbing wall. There are also zip lines that take you through the woods. Golfers will love Sunday River Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design that is rated one of the best in the region.

New Hampshire is home to Mount Washington, Attitash, Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Loon, Gunstock and Waterville Valley. The alpine slide at Attitash opened in 1976 and is one of the longest in North America at more than one mile. There is also a waterslide, a mountain coaster and the new airbag jump, which has been likened to leaping off a four-story building. For those in search of something a bit more calming, there is horseback riding.

Bretton Woods, home to the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort, is the perfect spot for a guided off-road ATV tour that will take novice riders through the White Mountain National Forest. There is also a canopy tour that drops 1,000 feet and includes four zip lines.

At Cranmore’s Mountain Adventure Park, you can try the bungy trampoline or go tubing, then ride the mountain coaster. Gunstock Mountain Resort has the Big Air Bag, where you fly through the air and land on a soft air bag. A series of zip lines also take you past suspended bridges and scramble nets.

Loon Mountain is a popular family destination. The Aerial Forest Adventure Park features five courses that include climbing ladders, crossing bridges, and walking from platform to platform high in the trees. You can also take a Segway tour, tackle the climbing wall or bike the back country forest trails.

Love golf but don’t have time to chase the little white ball? Wildcat Mountain’s disc golf course could be for you. The nine-hole course also has stunning views of Mount Washington.

Vermont is also filled with adventure parks. With 23 rides and attractions, Bromley Mountain Resort offers New England’s newest and longest zip line, the Sun Mountain Flyer. Jay Peak Resort, near the Canadian border, has an indoor water park with a retractable roof, while Okemo Mountain Resort features the Timber Ripper mountain coaster, the state’s first roller coaster-style attraction. At Okemo’s Energy Air Bag attraction, you can walk the plank from a platform 30 feet above a 30-by-50-foot air bag.

Stowe Mountain offers more traditional activities such as tennis and hiking, while Sugarbush features a Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed golf course, a tennis camp, cross-country mountain biking, two 18-hole disc golf courses and for the kids, an inflatable bounce house.

In Massachusetts, Jiminy Peak’s Mountain Adventure Park is appropriately named. You can reach speeds of 23 mph on the Mountain Coaster, hurtle down an alpine slide or zip-line past suspended bridges and swinging logs.

There aren’t any mountains to climb in Rhode Island, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get exercise and adventure. Rodman’s Hollow, a 230-acre glacial basin in Newport, offers miles of walking trails and spectacular views of the ocean. There are large populations of migrating birds in spring.

The popular Newport Cliff Walk will take you along a 3.5-mile elevated, winding path along the shoreline, with breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay and the rocky coves below. You’ll see stately reminders of the “Gilded Age” as you pass such Newport mansions as The Breakers, Rosecliff and Beechwood.

Finally, The Adventure Park in Storrs, Connecticut, has become a favorite destination for visitors of all ages. The aerial forest includes five trails of varying levels of difficulty, each with zip lines, along with bridges that sit between tree platforms of rope, cable and wood configurations that create more than 60 unique challenges.

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