There’s a new way for families to connect with nature and discover the abundance of colors this fall season: soaring through the trees across a zipline.
Dennis Irwin, 61, of Canton, was on the lookout for a suitably adventurous activity with his grandchildren from Calhoun; so, when he came upon a brochure at a Georgia travel center on North Georgia canopy tours in Lula, Ga. this summer, he knew he’d found his next vacation thrill.
“All my grandkids love to do fun things and so do I,” Irwin said. “I always tell them I’m growing older, but not necessarily growing up.”
So, Irwin was delighted when his daughter Angie Gravitt and his grandchildren Hannah and Drew Gravitt agreed to the adventure of — strapping into a harness, clipping to a suspended cable and then zipping across a canopy of trees.
At Lula, the staff begins with a safety talk and then participants practice on short and slow zips across trees.
“We got put in a harness and they gave us a helmet and gloves,” Hannah said. “We had a practice run to slow down, and they showed us the proper ways to hold on.”
A fear of heights can often hold people back from exploring zipline tours, but that wasn’t the case for the Gravitt family. However, Angie admits she had some concerns for fifth grader son Drew.
“Drew was the one that I worried about, but he was the one that would ‘wooo hooo’ each time. It was great,” Angie said.
Drew’s favorite zipline was the dual racing zip line, in which he raced his sister Hannah that flies 70 feet over trails and stretches more than 600 feet long and crosses over Hilltop pond.
“It was really fast and really high up,” Drew said. “Hannah won.”
Connecting with nature, family
Ziplining is a good family activity to jump into, and is a relaxing form of exercise and educational, said Angie.
“It was a three hour tour with lot of activities,” Angie said. “We had a total of eight people in our group. There was a little hiking in the woods, rappelling under trees and they had suspension bridges we could cross. They learned about the trees and different things.”
The Lula course featured more than a dozen ziplines, a view of several oak and hardwood trees, two guides and an award certificate afterward.
Canopy tours let participants “connect with nature” and their family members.
“A lot of my friends don’t connect with their family,” Hannah said. “When they hear about what my family does they say, “That’s cool, I wish I could do that.’”
Years ago, “Opah” Irwin created a 100-foot zipline in his backyard for all his grandchildren to enjoy, but since the canopy tour, it no longer wows Drew and Hannah.
Irwin, Angie and her husband Alan, who was working during his family’s zipline adventure, are all planning their next zipline destination adventure: Carrolton.
“If the (grand) kids stay at home they aren’t going to realize how big and wonderful the world is,” Irwin said. “They need to see what’s out there and appreciate and preserve nature for their grandchildren.”
Zipline recreation activities, known as a canopy tour, are a new trend that began in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Zipline companies are popping up all around Georgia and on the map in many other states
The average cost is $69 to $89 for a two to three hour zipline tour. Visit www.northgeorgiacanopytours.com to lean more about zipline adventures.
North Georgia Canopy Tours
Where: 5290 Harris road, Lula, Ga.
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
How much: $69-$89
More info: 770-869-7272