Daytrippin': Carolina Zip Lines
You don't have to travel to a distant rainforest to soar through the treetops by a zip line. Instead, Carolina Ziplines Canopy Tour is a short drive away, only 25 miles north of Winston-Salem in the Westfield Township, not too far (about 10 miles) from Hanging Rock State Park.
The attraction opened in 2007 and is modeled after the popular eco-tourism activity found in Costa Rica. It features a series of cables (up to 10 in one tour) that will take you from one tree platform to the next. As you sail across the cables, you are suspended 20-60 feet off of the ground.
My husband and I recently visited with our two oldest children: Carson, 9, and Morgan, 6. (We left Jackson, our 18-month-old, with a sitter.)
When you first arrive at Carolina Ziplines Canopy Tour, you will be outfitted with a harness, helmet and gloves. Then a shuttle will take you to the first zip line in the woods. Before the adventure starts, you will receive a brief how-to session on braking (your hand on the cable) and how to position yourself while zipping across to the next platform (ankles crossed).
To be honest, my biggest concern was not braking soon enough and careening head first into a tree or coming in so fast that I knocked my kids off of the next platform. However, I quickly discovered that those fears were much unfounded. Safety is extremely important to the staff and fortunately, the guides were wonderful at instructing us on when to brake, and one guide was always at the next platform to guide us as we "zipped" in. And we were always harnessed to a cable, even when simply standing on a platform, so falling off was impossible.
Also, the kids didn't have to worry about braking because of their low weight and subsequent lower speed. In fact, on a few zip lines, Morgan, who only weighs 36 pounds, accompanied one of the guides across the cables so that she wouldn't become stranded on the zip line because of low speed.
Carson, accustomed to zip lines from summer camp, was fearless and enjoyed every minute of our two-hour adventure. Morgan, however, was a little less enthusiastic at first, but quickly warmed up as we enjoyed each zip line.
I also had trouble initially letting go of my fear. The hardest part for me was stepping off of the first platform. Yes, I was safely attached to a harness, but I felt like I was about to step off of the roof of a building. I laughed nervously, took a deep breath and took the plunge. It wasn't easy, but after that first step, I had no trouble with the remaining zip lines. The experience was exhilarating and also surprisingly, very relaxing. It was a fantastic way to de-stress from the workweek.
My husband also agrees that it took a few trips down the zip lines before he was also comfortable. But by the time the adventure ended with the largest zip line (more than 1,100 feet long), we were already making plans for when we would return.
IF YOU GO
Carolina Ziplines Canopy Tour
1085 Nickell Farm Road, Westfield
Tours are available seven days a week at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day. Reservations are required.
Adults, $60 (13 years and older); Children, $40