Riding on the back of an alligator that's flying through the trees might sound like the kind of crazy dream you'd have after eating week-old leftovers. But such aeronautical exploits are par for the course at the new Aerial Adventure Hilton Head.
The treetop playground, a challenge course for the fun-hearted, features 50 activities of varying degrees of difficulty. Like the gliding gator, many of them have a Lowcountry theme. It takes a double dose of daring to walk on a wobbly plank strung across two trees or push yourself down a steep slide into nothingness.
On the tougher courses, you'll need brawn and balance to go with the bravery. Many of the elements require the physical strength to hang from ropes or swing your body around obstacles. In one particularly harrowing venture, you have to make your way across a rock wall hanging four stories in the air.
Participants have two hours to run any or all of the six self-guided courses erected high in a pine forest at Hilton Head Island's Broad Creek Marina. There are two obstacle courses for each of the three levels of difficulty - green, blue and black - with seven to nine elements each. The beginner course takes you 12 feet off the ground, the intermediate 24 feet and the advanced 36 feet.
Before heading into the trees, participants are outfitted with a helmet, gloves, a full-body harness and a tether line that is attached to overhead cables using a safety system called Saferoller. Once the Saferoller trolley is slipped onto the overhead cable, participants can maneuver through the course without having to switch from cable to cable after each activity. If you lose your footing, the tether strap keeps you from falling more than a few inches.
Trained rangers are stationed at each level to secure you onto the cable at the start of the course and help you should you need assistance along the way.
The kid-friendly green courses are one flight of stairs from the ground and feature two wildlife-themed zip rides: the popular gator glide and a soaring hawk. In these elements, the adventurer sits on the animal, attached by rope to overhead cables, and is propelled by gravity from one platform to another. On the blue courses, the zip rides feature a kayak and kneeboard.
Another flight of stairs takes you to the black diamond and double black diamond courses. In addition to being scary high, the elements are physically challenging. Among the Marine-themed obstacles are the Climbing Wall, Parris Island Crossing, Tube Netting and Commando Crawl.
To participate in Aerial Adventure, you must be at least 5 years old. If you are 13 or younger, you'll need to complete a green course before moving on to the blue courses. A blue course must be successfully completed before starting either of the black courses. You must be at least 16 years old to run the double black diamond course.
All participants are required to wear sneakers or hiking shoes. Click here for more information about Aerial Adventure.