How to Make a Swinging Walkway to a Tree House
Swinging walkways and rope bridges are an inexpensive and creative way to provide access to treehouses, between trees and from hilltops and ridges to adjoining trees. You can build small and short-span swinging walkways out of rope and planks. Longer walkways and walkways that are designed for a lot of traffic should use steel cables to maximize stability and safety. Swinging walkways weigh only a fraction of what a wooden or metal bridge weighs and don't require a foundation or massive supports.
Secure two ropes or cables to the tree in which the treehouse sits. A temporary walkway can be suspended on ropes or cables that are wrapped around the tree, but a permanent walkway can't use this method because the rope or cable will girdle the tree and kill it as the tree attempts to grow. Permanent ropes and cables should be secured with heavy-duty lag bolts that are permanently set into the tree.
Lower the other end of the rope or cable to the ground. Transport the other end to its final attachment location by tying it to your waist and climbing the tree or hill where it is going. Alternatively, get into position and throw another rope down to an assistant who ties it to your walkway rope or cable and haul the rope or cable into position.
Tighten both ropes or cables as much as possible. The tighter they are, the less swing the walkway will have. For walkways with long spans, you will need a come-along, block and tackle or winch to get the cables tight enough to make them safe. Don't underestimate the weight and pressure of a swinging walkway. Build everything as strongly as you can.
Attach the two support cables at the same distance apart from each other as they are at the other end, creating two parallel cables.
Repeat steps 1 through 4 with two more ropes or cables, positioned 4 feet higher and slightly farther apart than the first two cables. These second two cables will serve as handrails.
Lay boards onto the support cables to create a walkway. Secure the boards onto the support cables with U-bolts. For safety, wear a safety harness that is clipped to one of the handrail cables while doing this.
Weave ropes up and down between the support cable and the handrail cable on each side of the walkway. These ropes will help stabilize the entire structure and will also serve as a safety net if someone stumbles on the walkway.
- Another alternative is to build the entire walkway on the ground and haul it into position.
- High-altitude swinging walkways are potentially dangerous and should be constructed and used with extreme caution.