By Doug Kish, MA
Always ready for another exciting activity, I recently visited the first zipline adventure in Ohio and the Midwest. Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, is located 40 miles southeast of Columbus in Rockbridge, Ohio, in the heart of the Hocking Hills region. Various zipline tours offer spectacular views of the geographical features of the region, including sandstone rock cliffs, caves, and the Hocking River. Tours range from major adventure to fun with the family.
Described as “Nature-Lover meets Thrill-Seeker,” the Original Zipline Canopy Tour takes about 3 hours. You travel through 10 zip lines and 5 adventure sky bridges, covering a distance of 1.5 miles over a natural cave and along the Hocking River ending in a beautiful garden. This tour is suited to both first-time and experienced zippers.
For exhilarating fun, try the “X” Tour, which is the one I decided on. This “X-treme” zipline tour lasts approximately 3 hours and covers a hybrid course using a combination of trees and towers in a cross-country style over 11 zips. After our group of five people was outfitted with harnesses, we were given some instructions and actually practiced some of the techniques necessary to negotiate the zip lines. Then it was off to the vehicle which took us to the start of the first zip.
There were three guides on our tour–Matt, who advised this was the start of his 9th season as a guide, Logan and Jonah. As we crossed on each line, the views were spectacular. This tour showcases what the Hocking Hills area is all about. One zip landed us in a recessed cave covered by a trickling waterfall. Different from the normal trek to the next line, that time we went to the next line in a vehicle. Another zipline took us through an amazing “tunnel” cut through the trees. Crossing the Hocking River twice on ziplines was truly an adrenaline rush. Two people in our group said they had traveled from Indiana to visit Hocking Hills Canopy Tours since there was nothing comparable to it in that area.
Before you leave, you must try the shortest and most adrenaline-pumping zip line, the SuperZip®. Described as “higher, longer and faster,” three elevated walkways and two scenic tree platforms lead to an 85-foot tower which launches two riders at a time in a super-hero flying position plunging them into the forest below. After descending through the tree canopy, you travel above the middle of the Hocking River reaching speeds up to 50 mph. Although this adventure takes less than sixty seconds from takeoff to landing, I can assure you from my own experience that the memory lasts a lifetime.
Want just a taste of what Hocking Hills Canopy Tours has to offer? Then the Discovery Zipline Tour allows you the same adventure as the Original Canopy Tour or the “X” Tour, but it’s half as long, lasting roughly 2 hours, and it costs less. This is an excellent way to ease into the sport of ziplining.
The Moonshine Full-Moon Zipline Adventure Tour is available starting in late May. During the full moon you zip into darkness on this 2-hour nocturnal journey to experience the sounds, smells and the creatures of the night. The zips are minimally lit for maximum drama and are only available during full moons. You will need to check the Summer and Fall calendars to take advantage of this opportunity.
Exclusively for kids ages 5 – 12 years there is the DragonFly Zipline Adventure. This trip includes 8 kid-friendly zip lines, 3 fun bridges and a sky tunnel. It allows younger riders the same experience as the adults while they fly from platform to platform. The line has a continuous-belay system, the first of its kind in the zipline industry. Safety is a priority as riders are connected to the cable from start to finish with no clipping necessary. Admission to this adventure includes two rotations through the course.
For those of you wanting to stay on the ground, a great way to explore the region is on a Segway. The Learn to Segway Experience is 30 minutes of supervised instruction where you will learn how to ride and control an Off-Road SegwayX2. You will then be free to ride at your own pace in the designated Segway playground. The Off-Road Segway® Adventure Tour is a 2-hour guided Segway nature tour. This professionally-guided tour includes the ancient caves, the Hocking River, old growth trees, native plants and wildlife.
Whether it’s a family activity, a unique date, or an outing with your spouse or friends, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours has numerous opportunities for adventure at many different levels. For more information or to make reservations for a particular tour, visit their website at hockinghillscanopytours.com.
While in that region, I took advantage of the opportunity to hike one of the areas in Hocking Hills State Park. Asking about a scenic trail with waterfalls, I was advised to try the Conkle’s Hollow area. This area is located on Big Pine Road in Logan, Ohio. It offers two hiking trails—a rim trail which circles the gorge atop the cliffs and a lower trail leading through the gorge itself. I chose the lower trail.
Following a small creek into the woods, I was amazed at the rock formations alongside the path. Another interesting discovery was the dramatic temperature change from the open, sunny parking area to the tree-covered path in the woods. After about a half mile of hiking and passing numerous caves in the rock formations, I discovered a unique waterfall. Every curve in this trail offers another opportunity for amazing photographs of the area. For information about all of the hiking trails and maps of the different hiking areas, visit their website at thehockinghills.org.
A short drive to this area of southern Ohio, with all the activities it has to offer, will surely add to your Summer of Fantastic Fun!
To experience my ziplining adventure, watch the youtube videos at
Hocking Hills Canopy Tours