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Find your inner ninja warrior at these obstacle courses

Go Ape in Derwood, Md., five loops of varying difficulty including ropes courses, swinging bridges, swaying platforms, suspended barrels to crawl through, climbing nets, and self-proclaimed Tarzan swings. (Jessie Hsu/Go Ape)

Last year was full of difficult obstacles tackled while being stuck at home. Let this year be a chance for the whole family to get out of the house to take on fun-filled obstacle courses instead. These four courses will confront a fear of heights, test balancing skills and get in touch with your inner ninja warrior.

Go Ape

Spread over six acres in the forest of Lake Needwood Park, this high-minded course is suspended in the trees. After a safety training session, adventurers don harnesses and head into the canopy. There are five loops of varying difficulty including ropes courses, swinging bridges, swaying platforms, suspended barrels to crawl through, climbing nets, and self-proclaimed Tarzan swings. Each course ends with a zip line ride up to 500 feet long. “It’s a workout in the trees,” says Jason Budden, chief operating officer of Go Ape. “So, drink water and have a good meal before coming, have an open mind, and be ready to tackle challenges.”

Open to those 10 years and older who are at least 4 feet 7 inches; maximum weight per climber is 285 pounds. Children must be supervised by an adult; one adult may supervise two children. Tickets are $54.95 for ages 10-15 years old, $64.95 for ages 16 and older. Gloves and face masks are required (and available to purchase).

6129 Needwood Lake Dr., Derwood, Md.

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The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring Friends School

This epic tree-based challenge course interspersed with zip lines features more than a dozen aerial trails color-coded for difficulty. Over the course of a three-hour ticket (which also includes a separate safety training session), most guests can finish three to five trails. Owner and general manager John Hines estimates only one in 100 customers even try the most extreme double black course — and half who attempt it need to be helped down because they can’t finish. On Friday and Saturday evenings the course is lighted, but the surrounding darkness adds another level of challenge to the equation.

Open to climbers 5 years and older; 5- and 6-year-old climbers must climb with an adult at a 1 to 1 ratio at all times. Maximum weight per climber is 265 pounds. Close-toed shoes are required. Friday-Sunday, $20 ages 5-6, $54 ages 7-11 and $64 ages 12 and older; Monday-Thursday $16 ages 5-6, $50 ages 7-11 and $60 ages 12 and up.

16701 Norwood Rd., Sandy Spring, Md.


Here’s a good option for a family full of ninjas. The Ninja Warrior Course includes five separate lanes varying of difficulty, so little ones and parents can race alongside each other while challenging themselves at their level of ability. Each course features two to four obstacles, including moving monkey bars, cargo nets to climb and cheese boards to navigate. Though it usually takes less than two minutes to complete each one, it’s recommended you do the same course multiple times to learn how to navigate it as smoothly and as quickly as possible. “You need balance, upper body strength, and practice to do them well,” says district manager Brad Smith. Better start your training now.

No age or height requirements; no maximum weight. Tickets start at $13.99 for one hour for children ages 3-6; $17.99 for participants ages 7 and older; free for children ages 2 and younger with the purchase of another regular ticket.

5325 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, Va.

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Super, Awesome & Amazing at the St. James

Two courses challenge participants in different ways. Hovering 15 feet above the ground, the 400-square-foot aerial ropes course requires adventurers to overcome any fear of heights while climbing, leaping between platforms and balancing across wobbly rope bridges. (Don’t worry, if you slip and fall, your harness will support you.) Close to the ground, the 580-square-foot ninja warrior course features a warped wall, swinging bridges, giant balls to hop across and a punching-bag zip line. The record for the torturous course is 48 seconds. Think you can beat it?

$13 for one hour; $23 for two hours. Children must be 46 inches to enter the courses alone — shorter children can enter with the assistance of an adult. Maximum participant weight is 375 pounds. Children ages 3-12 must wear a mask.

6805 Industrial Rd., Springfield, Va.

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