TFAP offers physical, mental challenges, good times
By Greg Ford
DALLAS — Get outside, face your fears, build confidence and get some exercise.
Doing all that at once would be tough, but not impossible, especially if one spends part of the day at the Trinity Forest Adventure Park.
Located in South Dallas on Dowdy Ferry Road, the park, one of many extreme rope adventure facilities in Texas, offers folks of all ages a chance to test their nerves, endurance, strength and agility on various rope-oriented courses.
“It’s like a self-guided ropes course, so it’s a little different than traditional ropes courses,” said Kathy Lee Girres, account executive with the park. “It’s got more of the fun element rather than team building, which we can do, too. It’s more about recreation.”
Open since 2013, the TFAP is operated by the Southern Cross, a party and event center that’s been operating since 1999 by Girres’ parents, Brad and Judy Lee. Within the TFAP, participants can traverse courses that range from easy to difficult, and which are at various heights.
After receiving 15- to 30-minutes of instruction at the park’s “ground school,” participants are provided with the proper equipment that allows them to traverse a chosen course. Prior to doing that, they must sign a waiver and demonstrate they know how to properly use the equipment.
There are also trained park monitors who can assist those in need or call for emergency help, if required. The monitors must receive a minimum of 40 hours of training to perform their jobs, Girres said, and there is one park monitor for every 12 customers.
“We are all trained in evacuation procedures,” she said. “Let’s say in a non-emergency situation, like thunder or lightning, we have to get everybody off the course for 30 minutes. Everybody who works out here has to know how to get people off the course.”
There are also “water refill” stations throughout the park, Girres said, adding that participants are encouraged to bring in their own water bottles in order to stay hydrated.
When on a specific course — there are four levels of difficulty designated by the colors yellow, green, blue and black — participants could find themselves zip lining to one station, whereupon they’ll be required to walk over a swinging bridge to another station where the only route out is a tightrope.
“When you get a ticket, you get three hours in the park, which includes your ground school,” Girres said, “where we teach you how to use your equipment and the rules. The rest of the time you try to do as many courses as you can in that time frame. Some of that is limited by how busy we are and (sometimes) by how proficient you are at the courses.”
Not only have local residents used the park, she said, but also people have visited from other parts of Texas, as well as Oklahoma, Kansas and even California.
TFAP has three course levels, with the easiest being 13 feet above the ground is designed for beginners and intermediates; the yellow one is for beginners and the two green ones for beginner and intermediate climbers. The second level (24 feet) is for ages 10 and above and has one blue course for intermediate users and a second for intermediate to advanced participants. The highest level is 50 feet and is a black (advanced) course for anyone 12 and older.
Six years old is the youngest a participant can be, and they also must be at least 48 inches tall, Girres noted, with the heaviest a person can be is 265 pounds.
“For people who don’t exercise on a regular basis, this gets them out and moving,” Girres said, “and they’ll feel it the next day. That’s what makes it so fun. You feel like you’ve accomplished something.”
She noted her parents got the inspiration after zip lining in Costa Rica, and once her father researched the concept of adventure parks, the idea became a feasible one.
“It’s a totally unique experience in that it’s not a ride,” Girres said. “You’re using your own physicality and your own strength and your courage. It’s frightening being 13 feet in the air and having to (walk over) a wobbly bridge, where you feel kind of unstable. You are overcoming fear and building up your own confidence.”
She added, “We do have courses restricted by age, but the entire family can have a lot of fun at that first level.”
For more information, check out www.southerncrossdallas.com or www.trinitytreetops.com.