I remember as a kid spending summer days at amusement parks and water parks; it was always a blast to test out the latest roller coaster, enjoy a new thrill ride or slip through a tunnel down a wet slide.
The best rides were the ones that made your stomach flip. We'd spend hours in line for the fun of fear and pumping adrenaline whether it be on land, water or in the air.
The latest in recreation captures the exuberance of amusement parks, all in the great outdoors.
Flying through treetops from a suspended cable, maneuvering a canoe or kayak through river rapids, challenging friends to wooded paintball battles, or challenging your body to a rugged trail; fortunately for local thrill-seekers, these adventures are readily available right here in central Pennsylvania, with more and more opportunities popping up each year.
Zip lines may be the latest and greatest new "ride" for adults. Seven Springs, for example, now has the Screaming Hawk Zip Line Course, with more than 1,800 feet of cable. Between the pull of gravity and the mountainous scenery, outdoor lovers get a bird's-eye view and a stomach-dropping experience as they literally zip through the air from station to station. Raystown Zip Lines take guests safely down another mountain through the air, as high as 80 feet above ground.
Paintball is another outdoor option, great for team-building or just plain fun, allowing participants to simulate the excitement of a strategic battle.
The Raystown area is also becoming a destination of choice for mountain bikers from around the world, who test their abilities and endurance on the stacked loops of the Allegrippis Trails. Other biking options can be found on Rail Trails: flat, safe paths for riding, running or hiking.
We recently took a beautiful morning bike ride from Hollidaysburg to Williamsburg on the Lower Trail, enjoying a good workout as well as the sounds of the Juniata River, the beauty of spring wildflowers, and an abundance of feathered friends. Biking trails lie in every direction in Central Pennsylvania and are easily accessed by both experienced riders and beginners.
Throughout the region, trails are constantly being developed and maintained, many of which also offer access points to local waterways, with canoe and boat launches. Kayaks are growing in popularity, even spawning charity events, like poker runs on the water. This spring's Bloody Run Canoe Classic brought hundreds of canoes and kayaks to the Everett area; this year a triathlon was added to the weekend's races, featuring legs for kayak and bike as well as an event-ending run.
Outdoor recreation can be a relaxing workout, but it can also be a competitive thrill ride, a kind of amusement park for adults: adrenaline-pumping, stomach-flipping fun that also celebrates the natural resources of our beautiful region. Let the adventures begin!
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.