By Jesse Wood
Editor’s Note: This is the first feature in a series called “Summer Treats,” which is designed to encourage local readers – and anyone else, for a matter of fact – to get out of the house and enjoy some of the many offerings in the High Country. HCPress.com starts off with ziplining.
Ziplining in the High Country is an exhilarating experience – one that is fun and safe for the whole family.
Hawknest has the longest zipline tour on the East Coast with 20 cables, four of which are known in the industry as super or mega zips. Hawksnest features two tours – the Hawk and the Eagle tours.
The Hawk, which costs $80 per person, features 11 cables with a two swinging-bridge tour. The Hawk is 1.5-miles long and reaches heights of 150 feet. The Tour travels through the trees, over lakes and creeks with speeds up to 35 mph.
The Eagle, meanwhile, is a nine-cable tour with a swinging bridge that costs $90. This tour features thre miles of cable, featuring cables more than 2,000 feet or heights of more than 200 feet. Two Eagle tour is more in the open – with only tow of its nine cables flying through the canopy.
“The Hawk tour … is more scenic of the two. It’s probably the best all around tour,” said Lenny Cottom, co-owner of Hawksnest. “The Eagle is more extreme. Everything over there is higher and faster. If you want to go with you hair on fire on the long cables over and over again, that’s the place to go.”
Cottom cited the adrenaline rush that comes from riding on either tour. He noted that this is a great activity for the whole family or a group of friends to partake in. Cottom also mentioned that its exciting to see the growth of a family member or friend overcome their fears.
“We get just as many parents nervous as kids. It’s just a fun thing to do with kid, to watch them overcome fear and then be out there in nature with gorgeous views, zipping over lakes and over creeks and spending a fun two hours with family or friends or whoever,” Cottom said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
Cottom stressed an unblemished safety record in eight years of ziplining atop Seven Devils. He noted that employees are trained for an entire month before working with customers. The equipment is checked once a month, and an independent third party checks the course once a year.
“We do daily inspections on the course,” Cottom said. “It’s very safe. The course is designed with redundancy all throughout. Our harnesses have two points of contact. So if something happens to one, you still have a backup to hold you.”
For more information about Hawksnest, click to https://www.hawksnestzipline.com or call 828-963-6561.
Sky Valley Zip Tours
Based in Blowing Rock, Sky Valley Zip Tours, says owner Jack Sharp, is more than a tour; it’s an adventure. The canopy tours feature a half-mile ATV ride to where 10 ziplining cables begin, including “Big Mama,” which is an exhilarating 1,600-foot cable line.
Sky Valley Zip Tours, which is located on 140-acres of pristine environment, has more than one mile of cable that reach heights of up to 300 feet off the ground. The cable tours also features a 45-foot rock cliff jump and a 120-foot swinging bridge, which has a view of a 35-foot tall cascading waterfall. The adventure at Sky Valley Zip Tour also offers rappelling
Sharp mentioned that ziplining offers a unique vantage point to view the outdoors.
“We get you up in the trees, above the tree canopy and a couple of our lines are 300 fight high and another one is 200 feet high,” Sharp mentioned.
And with the ATV ride, those who might not be inclined to hike up a huge mountain or climb that steep mountain peak are able to strap on a harness and have the Great Outdoors at their fingertips.
So far this summer, Sharp said business and the weather have been great.
“Even thought it’s been warm up here, it’s hot everywhere else and you get to feel the wind through your hair zipping around,” Sharp said. “It’s been a great summer.”
Right now, which is peak season, zip tour prices are $84 Monday through Thursday and $89 Friday through Sunday.
Currently, Sky Valley Zip Tours has partnered with Lost Province Brewing Co. and High Mountain Expeditions for two different specials.
After enjoying a zipline canopy tour at Sky Valley, head down to Lost Province Brewing Co. to enjoy a flight of local craft beers and half-price appetizers. In all, this special is $89.
The special with High Mountain Expeditions consists of a zipline canopy tour followed by paddling the pristine waters of the Watauga River with a half-day adventure at High Mountain Expeditions.
For more information, click to www.skyvalleyziptours.com or call 1-855-475-9947. Sky Valley Zip Tours are located at 634 Sky Valley Ranch Road in Blowing Rock.
Photos of Sky Valley Zip Tours
Photos of Hawsknest Ziplining