ZipLine Hilton Head will have you soaring through the air enjoying a panorama generally reserved for the winged among us.
The eco-attraction - the only canopy tour within 250 miles of the island - opened last month at Broad Creek Marina and has become an instant hit with visitors of every age. On the tour I took recently, guests included a 10-year-old girl and a 76-year-old grandmother.
During the two- to two and a half hour-excursion, you'll glide over seven zip lines, cruising as fast as 30 miles per hour through the upper forest canopy. There also are three suspended sky bridges to cross on the course located on 15 acres overlooking Broad Creek.
After being outfitted with helmets, a full-body harness, gloves and tether lines, we started our adventure with a practice run on a short zip line not more than 10 feet off the ground. Our guides showed us how to hold our hands on the trolley and slow down when given the signal. We also practiced pulling ourselves along the cable should we stop short of the platform.
It's a 36-step climb up the first tower. As soon as you reach the platform, a guide will clip you to a steel overhead cable using the carabiners on your tether lines. Having two lines attached to your harness ensures you are always secured by at least one lanyard as you move from the holding cable to the launch cable on the platform.
The lead guide zips ahead of the pack to await incoming flyers. The "sweep" guide stays behind to help launch participants one at time. After your trolley is locked onto the zip line, you must wait for the "all clear" signal before dropping into your harness and stepping off the platform.
You start with a "bunny" run that serves as a warm up for what's to come. Excitement builds as the zip lines get higher and longer. Along the way you cross several narrow bridges that sway slightly with each step you take. Not to worry. You're attached to an overhead cable from start to finish.
At station No. 8, you'll climb several more flights of steps to reach a platform offering a spectacular view of the creek and surrounding salt marsh. If you look in the direction of Calibogue Sound, you can see the Cross Island Parkway bridge in the distance.
I was so taken by the panorama, I didn't notice at first how far up we had climbed. At 75 feet high, we were at treetop level, staring down at the ground far, far below us.
It was a long ride through nothingness to reach the crow's nest at the other end. After a few minutes of sightseeing, we took off on what would be the fastest ride of the day. Stretching through the trees for some 600 feet, this zip line allows you to pick up some serious speed, reaching just below 30 mph.
During the busy summer season, trips will be offered every 20 minutes. The cost for a tour is $89. You must be 10 years old and a minimum weight of 80 pounds to participate.
Also on the horizon, ZipLine Hilton Head will open a second aerial attraction for those looking for even bigger thrills: a dual racing zip line offering a higher and faster ride. Flyers can reach up to 40 mph as they zoom 900 feet through the air. Coming later this summer are a bungee trampoline, ropes course, climbing tower and a Lil' Zipper for kids.
For more information or to make reservations, call (843) 682-6000 or click here.