Into the Wild

Playing in the Treetops

By Andrea Brown Ross | Photography courtesy of Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures

Since its opening in July 2017, visitors at The Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures in Winona have been zipping through the treetops of central Mississippi.

Owners Russell and Candace Durham are excited to see how receptive the public has been to their unique endeavor.
“We love Mississippi, the outdoors, and family,” shares Candace. With that in mind, the Durhams created their outdoor adventure park based on the European model of treetop play.
Russell explains,” We’re not just zip lining. Our course has elements and challenges, such as a rope bridge along with the zip lines.”
Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures has a variety of activities or adventures for visitors, based on their ages and experience. Thus far, the oldest adventurer has been 84 years old, but the park also can accommodate visitors as young as two years old.
A few of the adventures that await guests include the following:

Treetop Quest
Challenge yourself on this self-guided aerial obstacle and zip line course, which features 24 tree-to-tree obstacles with varying heights and challenges.

Spider Quest
Traverse through 15 tree-to-tree obstacles in this self-guided, harness-free course over a 9,000 square foot safety net. It’s ideal for beginners. And, there’s only one other treetop aerial net obstacle course like it in the U.S.

Treetop Adventure Package
Enjoy three hours of 39 treetop obstacles from Treetop Quest and Spider Quest. This adventure offers visitors an opportunity to conquer all of the obstacles.

Treasure Quest
Search for treasure in this customizable activity that includes maps and integrated quizzes throughout the park. All ages will enjoy finding the treasure at the end of this adventure.

Kids Quest
With two pole obstacle courses and a 1500-square-foot treetop net trampoline great for dodge ball fun, this adventure is tailored to 4-to-6-year olds.

Kiddie Quest
The youngest of visitors (ages 2-3) will enjoy playing on a low near-ground obstacle course and recreational equipment. There are also adventure games and activities designed for them.

For children participating in the Kids Quest activities, a safety helmet is required during participation. As parents of three children, the Durhams understand the importance of safety.

“Our zip lines are meant to give our visitors a thrill and a fun experience, but they are designed to slow down at the platform,” explains Russell. “We also use a continuous delay system in which the cable cannot come off until their feet touch the ground.”
Per the industry standard, the weight limit on the adventure courses is 250 pounds. Subject to random inspections by American Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) – the industry’s regulatory board – the Durhams adhere to the rigorous guidelines. Annual, monthly, and even daily inspections are conducted by the ACCT and staff.
“We inspect our courses morning and evening. We provide regular training to our staff and we are required to recertify with the ACCT if we make any additions or alterations to the course,” he says.
Lynn Savage of Senatobia, Mississippi, shares her experience of taking her boys to the park with another family.
“I have two very adventurous boys that love a good challenge! I was able to let my second grader go with his friend to the regular zip lining course, and my youngest son did the smaller version and loved it. The employees were helpful and nice,” Savage shares.
School field trips have been very popular at Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures. Often, children attend with their school, and then return on the weekend with their family. Willing to work with school administrators and educators in meeting the demands of curriculum guidelines and detailed explanations of obstacle safeguards, the Durhams offer discounts to school groups.
“We’ve already had some back-to-school parties and sororities adventure with us,” says Candace. Currently, private bookings of up to 100 adventurers can be accommodated.
As well as hosting birthday party adventures, the park has also become popular with church groups that reserve private events. After groups participate in the adventures, they gather at the overlook area for a campfire with hotdogs, chips, drinks, and s’mores. To make reservations for a private party or event, please call the park at (662) 516-9722.
During the fall, the Durhams host school groups and private bookings during the week. On the weekends, the park is open to the public from10 a.m. until dark on Saturdays and from 2-5 p.m. on Sundays. Advance tickets purchased online can save visitors $2 per ticket. Walk-ins are welcome, but please note that a particular adventure may be filled. Visitors may occupy themselves with other activities until the next available time slot opens, which is typically under an hour, according to Candace.
The park’s popularity has the Durhams considering an expansion to include a True-Blue course, which would offer at least five zip lines and an optional freefall at the end.
Until then, there’s plenty of fun for visitors who want to play in the treetops!

Read More in DeSoto Magazine online.