Wondering ‘where is the best zip lining near me?’ North Georgia Canopy Tours is one of Georgia’s oldest and one of my favorite for first timers. It’s also perfect for Atlanta folks who are looking for a ‘zip line near me’ because it’s in Lula, Ga., about 90 minutes north of Downtown Atlanta on the way to Unicoi State Park.
North Georgia Canopy Tours Perfect for First Timers
I’ve been to North Georgia Canopy Tours twice. The first time I had never zip lined before. The second time, I was an old pro, having zip lined at North Georgia Canopy Tours, as well as Historic Banning Mills, Whitesburg, Ga., TreeTop Adventure at Callaway Gardens, and TreeTop Quest in Gwinnett. Now there is even a zip line course at Unicoi State Park. Here’s more on all the zip lines in Georgia, as well as some tips no matter where you go.
North Georgia Canopy Tours: Ground School
The reason I like North Georgia Canopy Tours for beginners is because they start you out “low and slow” to get used to the equipment, the heights and zipping. I thought I would be petrified, but honestly, between the ground school introduction and the fact that the zip lines are taunt when you take off, it was like swinging through the trees. I wasn’t scared at all, even when we crossed the sky bridge.
North Georgia Canopy Tours: Dual Zip Line Racing
All North Georgia Canopy Tours end in a 695-foot dual zip where you can race a partner back to the observation deck. A short hike to the last platform allows ample time to do a little trash talking before the competition. Beware, if the fountain is on in the pond, you’ll want the zip line on the left unless you want to get wet – the right zip line goes right through the fountain.
North Georgia Canopy Tours Scenery
A canopy tour is a bit different than just a standard zip line. Canopy Tours are about the surroundings as much as the thrill of the zip. While you are zipping along at North Georgia Canopy Tours, enjoy a birds-eye view of the North Oconee River, ravines, ponds, pastures and wildlife. During each tour you’ll ride the ziplines, cross sky bridges and go on moderate hikes to the next platform.
My favorite zips on either course were the longer ones that give you a bird’s eye view of the surrounding North Oconee River, the ponds and forest. I found myself wanting to go slower so I could take in more of my surroundings.
Our host Kirk Watkins, a patent attorney by day, said the best time to see wild life is in the early morning or late evening. During our tour, the buds were just popping out on the trees, I can imagine when the leaves come in, it is a completely different experience.
North Georgia Canopy Tours Staff
Unlike some zip line tours where you go at your own pace, at North Georgia Canopy Tours, each tour is accompanied by two certified eco-trained guides. They do all the work and make sure your zip and safety cables are hooked on correctly. In addition, staff act as nature guides during the brief hikes, inserting a bit of Disney Jungle Cruise humor to lighten things up. They do a good job, so remember to tip them at the end of your tour.
North Georgia Canopy Tours: The Sky Bridge Tour
For newbies, take the Sky Bridge Tour. This is the milder of the two adventures (although it is still exciting). It takes about two hours and includes nine zip lines (including the ‘Continental Divide, the longest zip on the course), two sky bridges, and two nature walks.
I may have been apprehensive at zip lining, but my 10-year-old was the first in line and thought the whole experience was a blast. He didn’t even flinch when he stopped short on one zip and had to go hand-over-hand to get to the next platform. Children must be at least 10 years old and 70 pounds to participate on the zip lines at North Georgia Canopy Tours, and this is one reason, they really need the weight to get to the end of some zips.
The actual sky bridge reminded me of crossing the bridge above Tullulah Gorge. My first time on that bridge I had to be coaxed across by my boys, so just getting across this bridge was an accomplishment for me on the first go round.
North Georgia Canopy Tours: Adventure Tour
By the time I returned for a second look at North Georgia Canopy Tours, I was ready to tackle the longer and more intense Adventure Tour, and my fear of the sky bridge had disappeared.This time, the trees were lush with leaves and the view a bit greener. The day we went, it was drizzling, which frankly made it more pleasurable as the rain kept the summer heat (and crowds) at bay.
The Adventure Tour is about three hours, with 12 zip lines, two sky bridges, three nature walks, and a rappel. Although a work out, I did not find it overly strenuous, and there are several water stations that allow guests to take a break if needed.
If you’ve been zip lining before, take the Adventure Tour. It offers additional zips that are some of the fastest on the course, as well as a rappel. After an initial rush of panic, I actually enjoyed the challenge of rappelling off the last platform.
If you haven’t zipped, or are afraid of heights (interestingly a number of folks use this experience to get over their fear of heights), you’ll want to do the shorter and lower Sky Bridge course.
As a veteran zipper, I sailed through the ‘low and slow’ ground school and was ready to get moving. The Adventure Course took the familiar path of the Sky Bridge course I had done previously. About halfway through that course, you’ll veer off to the longer Adventure Course, so if you have a group at different levels, you can do the first portion together, then branch off for a more intense experience.
The taunt zip cables that made me feel more secure on the Sky Bridge course, allowed me to jump off the platforms of the Adventure Course to gain a bit of speed (or so I thought). The lines at North Georgia Canopy Tours allow for a decent amount of speed without taking your head off when you land. If you’ve ever zipped on a course with the spring break system, you know what I’m talking about. The breaking system at North Georgia Canopy Tours is easy, soft and allows you to glide onto the platform.
More Fun beyond zip lining at North Georgia Canopy Tours
If zip lining isn’t your thing, North Georgia Canopy Tours has added other adventures too.
Teepee Camping: The folks at North Georgia Canopy Tours affectionately call this Glamping. I can see why, the family sized Dream Catcher teepee is quite nice with a queen bed and a twin-over-full bed. The 18′ Deer Teepee is made for couples with one queen sized bed. These two teepees come with linens. For groups, rent the 26′ Hickory teepee which sleeps up to 10 on twin and bunk beds. The lack of electronics is refreshing, as is the availability of air conditioning and lamps.
Geocaching: Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game that has become quite a popular adventure, and North Georgia Canopy Tours™ is an approved Four Stage Geocache by Groundspeak. No geocaching experience necessary, just a GPS device. Participants locate hidden containers (caches), then share their experiences online at www.geocaching.com. Players bring a token or souvenir to replace the one found in the grand finale cache. North Georgia Canopy Tours™ provides the first clue to non-geocache members. Allow two hours to locate the four caches and decipher the clues.
Disc Golf: According to those in the know, this is one of the nicest disc golf courses in Georgia. Shoot across the North Oconee River, through a chicken house and through the forest and pastures of North Georgia.
Nature Challenge: For those that would prefer a leisurely walk in the woods to adventure, North Georgia Canopy Tours offers a Nature Challenge. Guests are given clues to find various natural elements within the property.
Games: Whether you come for the day, or overnight, there is more to keep you busy than just the zip lines. North Georgia Canopy Tours has American Cornhole Association sanctioned cornhole courts, a tetherball court, foosball, board games and cards. Rent the large propane grill for a group cookout. The grills cooks 60 hamburgers at once, so go ahead and bring a crowd.
What: North Georgia Canopy Tours, Zip Lining, Geocaching, Disc Golf, Tepee Camping
Where: 5290 Harris Road, Lula, Ga. 30554
When: Each season has its own rewards
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