Echo Bluff Park — close to the city ... far from the ordinary

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 1:00 p.m. CDT

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SPRING VALLEY — As summer winds down, families are looking for “staycation” opportunities in the Illinois Valley and Echo Bluff Park (located off of Route 29 between Spring Valley and DePue) has plenty of events to fill this need.

Zip lining is very popular in vacation resorts and Hall Township’s Echo Bluff Park has public and private events where you can experience the thrill of the ride. Perhaps the ambiance is not that of the tropics, but the “rush” is every bit as exciting! On Aug. 21 you can take part in a Night Zip from 7 to 9 p.m. Impending darkness always adds to an event and participants ($15 each) will receive a glow necklace! To reserve a spot, call 815-447-2115.

Though Zip Lining is a great event, those seeking more challenge will want to take advantage of the high ropes course at Echo Bluff.

Elevated 35 feet above ground, the ropes course is an excellent team building event for groups and organizations. When groups or individuals go up on a high ropes course there is a great opportunity for them to learn about risk taking, their own personal limits, how they perform under pressure, how they give and receive support from others and how working together can help an individual accomplish more than they thought possible.

High ropes events are prescheduled, though public events are held sporadically. As certified instructors are required for each high ropes and zipping event, it is best to check the website for upcoming events. Check out schedule on www.echobluff.org. Schools, clubs, businesses, civic organizations and families have found Echo Bluff’s Challenge Course an excellent means of increasing individual confidence and group unity.

What was once a unique 200-by-200-foot wooded paintball course has been doubled to the size of two football fields with the addition of a Speedball course at Echo Bluff Park.

The field has a ravine within, making challenges a bit more interesting. Natural obstacles and man-made bunkers create the perfect backdrop for creative warfare. The third Sunday of each month (Aug. 18) is the Red/Yellow game at Echo Bluff Park. This event is an organized challenge. The cost is $30 for adults and $25 for those in eighth grade and under, with unlimited air and CO2 during competition. Each Friday during August is Free Field Fee Friday – meaning those with equipment will enjoy a free afternoon in the park! Rental is available for masks and guns, but the field fee is waived on Fridays.

Enjoy Disc Golf at Echo Bluff. The nine-hole wooded course offers a challenge to those who have taken up the sport. Seasoned and new golfers are encourage to play the course for free. Stop by the Snack Shack to pick up a map, scorecard and discs.

Hiking and biking enthusiasts are invited to “ride” the 7,000 yards of trails at Echo Bluff Park.

Though the weather has been temperate as of late, it is still too early to enjoy Echo Bluff’s premiere ice skating rink. This seasonal chilled outdoor rink has undergone some major renovation and will be up and ready when winter arrives. Plan now to enroll a child in hockey and ice skating camps.

Terror on the Trails, Echo Bluff’s annual Halloween event, is scheduled for Oct. 25 and 26. It will feature a “Ghostly Paintball” challenge.

For further information or questions concerning Echo Bluff Park, call Jan Martin, park manager, at 815 447-2115 or 815-252-3894.

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