Tangent Wood: The Backbone of Minnesota Zoo’s Treetop Trail
The Minnesota Zoo Treetop Trail is a pioneering 1.25-mile elevated pedestrian loop. Recognized as the world's longest elevated trail, the zoo chose Tangent wood as its boardwalk material based on the product's durability, sustainability and visual appeal. Opening earlier this summer, the Treetop Trail allows guests to marvel at the unique views of zoo animals from tigers to camels all from more than 30 feet above ground.
When designing the Treetop Trail, architects used an old monorail track as its base and had to choose sturdy and durable materials for its construction. It needed to withstand varying weather conditions from hot summers to harsh Minnesota winters and endure the weight of thousands of footsteps daily. Tangent wood, with its record of long-lasting durability, sustainability and overall weather resilience naturally emerged as the forerunner.
Opened on World Nature Conservation Day, the Treetop Trail shows the Minnesota Zoo's commitment to wildlife conservation and creating a sustainable future. Utilizing hardwoods in this project would have deforested thousands of acres of trees, where Tangent wood uses recycled materials and closed-loop processes to create the least amount of impact on our natural resources. The estimated lifecycle for recycled plastic lumber is 20 years in a commercial installation, providing a long-lasting solution without the need for constant repairs and replacement. And Tangent wood offers the unique aesthetic of wood and will not rot, deteriorate or splinter like traditional materials.
Minnesota Zoo Director John Frawley expressed that the Treetop Trail "will provide an accessible and immersive pathway to nature for all."
With the robust foundation of Tangent wood, the trail promises to be an enduring legacy, redefining the traditional zoo experience and fostering a deeper connection between humanity and the natural world.