Collingwood’s Scenic Caves and Thunderbird, Canada’s Longest Twin Zip-Line

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Collingwood scenic caves
Getting to the scenic caves means some rugged hiking (Photo by Brad Moon)

Last week we were camping in Ontario’s MacGregor Point provincial park (a park I wrote about on GeekDad back in 2008). Taking a break from the beaches and endless sunshine, we decided to drive an hour and a half to Collingwood. Best known as a ski resort, the area is also home to the Scenic Caves and Thunderbird, Canada’s longest twin zip-line. Just what was needed for an adrenaline boost.

scenic caves 12 and 13
The entrances to caves 12 and 13 (Photo by Brad Moon)

I’m not a big fan of high speeds, I’m really prone to motion sickness, and I get claustrophobic. I’ve also had a knee rebuilt, so I have to watch it when climbing on rocky surfaces.

On the surface, I am not the person to take with you on a crawl through a twisting series of caves and grottos, followed by a zip-line plunge to the bottom of the Blue Mountains. Just as I’m not the logical choice for amusement parks.

However, as it turns out I am in high demand. Someone has to hold all the stuff—otherwise people can’t go on those rides—and it’s always good to have someone manning the camera. I also act as the mobile emergency depot with my backpack fully equipped with bandages, sunscreen, insect repellent, water, granola bars, and other necessities.

Needless to say, I was in my usual role when we visited the Scenic Caves.

Formed in the Niagara escarpment (although called the Blue Mountains, these are actually the highest points of the Niagara escarpment), the Scenic Caves are a winding series of small caverns. Reaching them involves climbing a series of steep staircases, popping into the caves themselves (if so inclined), and continuing along a path that often plummets deep into rocky crevices and grottos. Even from the path itself, the view is often stunning and I’m told the caves themselves were “cool,” both figuratively and literally. I stuck my head in one and it was like instant air conditioning. The boys and their buddy, meanwhile, had a blast exploring. I was happy enough taking in the scenery from the hike.

At the end of the cave trail, and at one of the highest points of the escarpment stands the tower for the Thunderbird twin zip-line. It extends for 2,550 feet over the tree tops, dropping 300 feet in elevation and is ranked as Canada’s longest twin zip-line. My wife and kids and our friends loaded me up, I found a decent spot to shoot the proceedings, and they went down the zip-line in pairs. Everyone seemed to have found the view extraordinary and the ride itself exhilarating. All I know is that it looked too bloody fast and far too high. They reached the bottom in less than a minute; walking back down the path, it took me considerably longer. There’s a price to pay for ride aversion…

Canada's longest twin zip line
Two of my kids being braver than me and riding the Thunderbird zip line (Photo by Brad Moon)

The Scenic Caves park is also home to Ontario’s longest suspension bridge, a 420-foot long number that gives an excellent view of the UNESCO biosphere preserve below. Even I was able to go on that one.

If you find yourself in the area of Collingwood, Ontario—that’s about two hours north of Toronto—outside of ski season and are looking for an afternoon of adventure, consider Scenic Caves. Rates start at $22.57 Cdn for adults and $18.58 for kids under 18, with the zip-line adding $8.85 per ride.

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