Built in 2008, the original “Sequoia Ropes Course” replaced the “Canyon Course,” which suffered much damage in the winter of 2008 when a large tree ripped through the challenge course during an ice storm. The new course built in its place was intentionally designed for family camp guests and team building programs, incorporating unique design elements that allowed it to be used by an intergenerational audience. The Sequoia Ropes Course had 12 elements, or activities, and a tandem zip line at the finish.
In 2010 Mount Hermon Adventures was formed, taking the Redwood Canopy Tours, also built in 2008, and the renamed “Sequoia Adventure Course,” surrounding these experiences with other adventures and programs. People from around the world started coming to see the majesty of the redwood forest from the perspective that only our adventure activities could provide. Along the way people overcame fears, laughed deeply, connected with friends, strangers, and their Creator.
At this point the Sequoia Adventure Course was used only by guests of Mount Hermon programs and our Team Building events. We saw interest in the Sequoia Adventure Course grow and we began fielding multiple requests every week from individuals that wanted to bring their friends and family to Mount Hermon for an aerial adventure experience. These guests were hungry for adventure, looking for new experiences, and excited to direct their own adventure experience in a unique way.
In 2014 we began offering limited numbers of individually registered day guests the opportunity to access the Sequoia Adventure Course. We were quickly overwhelmed with the response and began planning on how we could expand the course to maximize the “teachable moments” a guest would encounter on course. Due to a generous donation in 2015 we were able to bring this vision to fruition!
After months of hard work and preparation we’re ready to announce the Grand Opening of the Sequoia Aerial Adventure! Over the winter months we expanded our existing Sequoia Adventure Course by adding two new levels of challenges and the exciting “Quick Jump” free-fall device. A new way to experience the redwood forest, this aerial adventure combines balance and partner challenges high above the forest floor. The Sequoia Aerial Adventure now offers 30 activities graded by difficulty into “tracks” that guests can explore at their own pace. Like the “ropes course” of 20 years ago it is terrifying, it is exhilarating, it leaves you wanting more. During the expansion we also rebuilt much of the existing course, using the newest technology to promote long-term tree health, reduce annual maintenance, and ensure compliance with all regulations. This newest version of the Sequoia Aerial Adventure is one of the finest adventure courses in the nation!
While we’re excited to launch this expanded program we’re even more excited at how God has used Adventure over the past eight years to draw new guests to Mount Hermon. This newest adventure is just the next step in an expanding ministry that uses activities as the tool to draw people into relationship through intentional experiences in creation, and new opportunities to encounter their Creator.
As summer is attempting to become fall we’ve been out enjoying riding bikes and gearing up for what is supposed to be a wet winter. Looking for slightly cooler temperatures and some epic dirt, Velocity staff Nate Pfefferkorn and Doug Cline headed over to Mammoth Mountain a few weeks ago to learn more about lift-served operations, trail design, and of course to do some riding.
Nate and Doug getting ready to drop in off the summit of Mammoth Bike Park
Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has a lot going for it—3500 acres of terrain and over 80 miles of single track means you can ride hard for two days and not ride the same trail twice! Mammoth has done an excellent job of creating trails for all levels of riders and has some excellent lift-served XC style trails along with more resort-typical gravity and DH lines. Not to mention some of the best high-altitude views anywhere!
View from Mammoth summit looking west
Mammoth also has linkages to the Lakes Basin area and USFS roads and trails. By partnering with public land agencies the Mammoth area has created great options for riders both on and off the mountain. It’s possible to ride off the summit on mostly downhill trails for over 20 miles by connecting trails through public lands.
Joining Mammoth Bike Park trails with USFS trails makes for some epic descents
Santa Cruz and it’s various land agencies have a lot they could learn from Mammoth about creating fun, sustainable multi-use trails that would draw people to the area and showcase it’s natural beauty.
The Velocity Bike Park has probably had the most press because it is the part of the project we plan to lead with and there is nothing like it currently in California. Intentionally designed to maximize instructional opportunities, Velocity is both a bike park and bike school. Using pump tracks, skills zones, flow trails, jump lines, the acro-bag and more all under the attention of trained and certified bike coaches will create a bike park like no where else.
More than just a bike park though we want to be a blessing to the local community be making sure the development is sustainable and accessible for everyone who wants to come. As we’ve worked with the county of Santa Cruz on our site master plan it has become clear that an Environmental Impact Report is the best way to complete our planning process. We’re currently working with the planning department to complete the EIR process. It’s hard to guess at how long this will take but we’ve been told to expect 12 months from when we start.
In the meantime we’re developing local program opportunities and ride clinics locally in Santa Cruz. We’re also sending the team out to research other bike parks and bike facilities that are well regarded to see what we can learn. Just recently we hit the north Tahoe area to check out the Trukee Bike Park.
The Truckee Bike Park started about three years ago when some dedicated local builders put in a pump track. In the last few years through fundraising and sponsorship efforts they’ve expanded by adding two zones of dirt jumps, a drop zone, dual slalom course and three different flow lines. What makes the park awesome is how it caters to riders of all ages and abilities—in just our group we had riders from age 7 to 42 on hardtails, xc bikes, and big enduro rides and everyone could find something to push their skills. It was encouraging to see all the families at the park and people from all walks of life enjoying being outside and developing their skills. Visiting Truckee also reinforced the need for an awesome bike park in Santa Cruz County.
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