Escape to a treehouse

TOLEDO — Childhood fantasies of escape and adventure high above the ground come to life for both grown-ups and kids at the new Cannaley Treehouse Village in the Oak Openings Preserve of Toledo MetroParks.

“Treehouses bring back the ‘kid’ in everybody,” said Scott Carpenter, public relations director for the park system.

And the eight treehouses and camping platforms that make up the village have hosted hundreds of “kids” — both adult-sized and smaller — since opening to the public for overnight and day rentals in July 2020.

The village includes two 2-person treehouses, one 4-person and one 6-person treehouse, three tent/hammock open platforms for overnight campers, a general use “crow’s nest” and one common-area treehouse called Flatwood Commons, that will accommodate up to 49 people for meetings, conferences and daylong gatherings of all sorts.

Boardwalks, canopies and swinging bridges connect some of the houses for easy access. The four-person model is also ADA accessible.

The two- and four-person models have proved the most popular thus far since they have composting toilets, Carpenter said.

All houses (not platforms) are completely furnished with heating, air conditioning and electric service provided. Restrooms with showers are available in a nearby trailhead building.

Users are asked to bring their own linens, dishes, flatware, cooking utensils and food. However, the park system can provide camping materials in some instances.

Other local outdoor adventures are available to renters. They include guide-facilitated tree climbing, mountain biking tours, kayaking, backpacking and hiking. Transportation to and from these diversions is provided to renters and must be booked six weeks in advance of a stay.

Trial rentals last year helped staff “work out the bugs.” Park system volunteers served as testers for that. A subsequent lottery for overnight stays – open largely to Ohio residents – drew 6,000 entries.

Nelson Treehouse & Supply of Washington State planned the village with locals supplying the labor. Pete Nelson of cable TV’s Treehouse Masters owns the company and has designed treehouses all over the world. Nelson himself attended last year’s grand opening in Toledo.

Carpenter emphasized the $1.5 million project was funded entirely by about 750 private donors. No public money was used.

Location of the village is ideal, he added. It is adjacent to the park’s new 11-mile mountain bike trail.

This summer, the park district opened the treehouses to area children who might otherwise not be able to attend a camp. Carpenter’s goal is to get kids away from electronics and game devices so they can experience the outdoors in a new and different way.

Reservations can be made up to 365 days in advance. And although the treehouses are mostly booked for the remainder of 2021 and well into 2022, occasional stays do pop-up and are available, he noted.

Overnight stays are generally available Wednesday through Sunday. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the village is reserved for use by non-profit and community organizations from the Toledo area.

Rental prices range from $150 to $225 per night for the houses and $30 for the camping platforms. Those interested are urged to call 419-407-9723 or check metroparkstoledo.com for more information.

Salt Magazine