Get Hip on a Zip for a Fall Treetop Tour
Common wisdom may hold that the young are fearless and the old are fearful. We recently tested the truth of this axiom while checking out the new ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure in Fayetteville, N.C., created and built by S.T.E.P.S. Inc., a challenge-course construction company. Tucked away among acres of flora and fauna on an old family farm, the ZipQuest site includes the additional attraction of Carver’s Falls, the only waterfall in eastern North Carolina.
Our multigenerational group, ranging in age from 13 to 60, checked in at the visitor center, which includes a small souvenir shop. After meeting our two guides, we moved to a staging area where they helped us into our “zip” gear, including helmets, gloves, and a multi-strap, parachute-style harness. Once we were tightly but comfortably harnessed, our guides explained what was in store for the next two and-a-half hours, saying, “Well, your feet won’t be touching the ground for quite a while!” And they did not.
Each participant receives a safety and instruction lesson on a ground-level line to get used to the feel of the harness and to learn how to slow down, reverse and self-rescue, if necessary. Then it is forward to the first raised platform.
Preparing for launch
The first “zip” is the real test of our ambitions. Each participant in our group was a little nervous when we stood on a launch log ready to leap into the air. The guides provide a sense of security with their continuous training and watchful eyes. Plus, you’re tethered to a safety line that only allows a fall of a few feet if you back off a platform or happen to let go.
After the adrenalin rush of the first ride, it seemed everyone wanted to go first, zipping through forest and over streams. My fearfulness as a somewhat older person evaporated, and I felt like I had recaptured “my long lost youth,” as the poet Longfellow said.
All of North Carolina’s zip line courses follow a similar pattern of platforms and wiggly rope-style walking bridges. ZipQuest has 16 platforms, eight zip lines, and spiral staircases and canopy sky bridges that go higher and higher until the next to last line has riders gliding over the waterfall. By that time we were all confident enough in our zipping and bridge-walking abilities to look down and see the falls. It is spectacular.
What to expect
You need to be in reasonable physical shape to complete the zip line course. If you are able to walk a mile, you should be fine. It was nearing 100 degrees when we finished our adventure, but water stations on various platforms kept us hydrated.
There are age (over 10) and weight (under 260 pounds) restrictions at ZipQuest, and most other sites have similar requirements. Casual, loose, comfortable clothing is recommended, and some sites have more specific rules. Long, loose hairstyles or open-toed shoes generally are not allowed. Check with your destination for specific rules.
Be sure to secure your camera with a good strap. You will want to leave any other personal items in the car.
Everyone is required to sign a waiver of liability. If you have children with you who are not your own, download the waiver from the website and have their parents sign it.
ZipQuest is a different addition to Fayetteville’s historical, cultural and military attractions. It was recently named in USA Today’s 10 Great Ziplines Across the Country.
You’ll enjoy nature with your family and friends for a few hours in a new way with minimal training and no equipment purchase. Visit www.ZipQuest.com for details. The zip line sites in North Carolina continue to add features and plan special events for Halloween, night zips and other occasions. See the websites in the sidebar for more information.
Mary Gallagher is a North Carolina-based travel writer and commentator. Gallagher and Will A. Davis, photographer and historian, travel and combine their experience reporting for print, broadcast and the Web.
Zip Into Seasonal Fun
ZipQuest is the closest zip line tour to the Triangle, but several others are not too far away. Some have special seasonal tours planned for the fall. Prices vary, ranging from $20 to $90 depending on the location, age and tour. Be sure to make reservations in advance and ask about group rates.
Carolina Ziplines Canopy Tour, Westfield – www.carolinaziplines.com
Opt for the “high course” or “the Web” tour, which is great for groups or kids. Offers a Lantern Light Tour at Night for groups of eight. West of Hanging Rock State Park.
Kersey Valley Zipline, Greensboro – www.kerseyvalleyzipline.com
This is a closed course that starts and ends on the same Sky Tower. The tour takes guests across 15 Sky Towers on a 1.5-mile-long tour over the Maize Adventure corn maze and at night over its haunted attraction through laser light effects.
Richland Creek Zipline, Asheboro – www.richlandcreekzipline.com
Enjoy a special tour through the haunted forest at the base of Purgatory Mountain Oct. 28, 29 and 30.
Scream Time Ziplines, Boone – www.screamtimezipline.com
Home to the first triple-wide 2,000-foot line, an add-on to the standard six-line tour.
Big Woods Zipline and Canopy Tour, Boonville – www.bigwoodszipline.com
Located at Sanders Ridge Winery in the Yadkin Valley where you can toast your bravery with one of Sanders Ridge’s award-winning vinifera or muscadine wines. Hiking trails are also onsite.
Soar and Explore, Myrtle Beach, S.C. – www.soarandexplore.com
Ride over the 23-acre Lake Broadway at Broadway at the Beach. A 40-foot high ropes challenge course is also available.
Go to www.visitnc.com/journeys/articles/hang-gliding-skydiving-parachuting-ziplines for even more locations.