Zipline Adventures in New Hampshire
Zipping Into Summer, New Hampshire-Style
If you live and work in New Hampshire, you already know how much the summer season here has to offer. With all the natural amenities it boasts — the mountains, beaches, lakes and forests — there truly is something for everyone. It is no wonder then that so many tourists make our great state their vacation destination year after year. And yet, with all you’ve done and seen here, you may have missed an opportunity to view the landscape a little differently.
You’ve likely hiked or skied some of the mountains here, but have you ever ziplined down one? Zipline tours are rapidly becoming a favorite attraction of vacationers here in the Granite State and across the US. They are popping up all over, and while most are as safe as they are fun, it’s a good idea to do a little research before you take the plunge.
Alpine Adventures, located in Lincoln, boasts the first treetop canopy tour in all of New England and has set the standard for zipline excitement in the state. Owner and guide Randy Farwell stresses safety as his number one concern, and their courses are built to specifications outlined by the ACCT (Association for Challenge Course Technology), but more importantly, they are carefully inspected every day.
It’s hard for the consumer to know how committed an operator is to safety before going on their tour, so the best research is probably through customer review sites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp. If there are significant questions from customers about the professionalism or safety of an operator, best to stay away. So if you and your family are looking for a new twist to your summer adventuring, step a little out of your comfort zone by taking a ride through the trees and see your vacation from a whole new angle.
Fact Alpine Adventures boasts the very first authentic “treetop” canopy tour in all of New England. This tour includes six separate ziplines ranging from 150–1,000 feet long, each becoming progressively faster.
Just so your friends will believe that you did it, you may want to record your feats of bravery from your zipline experience with a handheld video camera, such as the Flip Ultra Series Camcorder ($165), which features simple, one-touch operation and holds 60 minutes of VGA-quality video. Wrist strap is included and it is recommended you use it if you don’t want to lose it.
Very sturdy shoes are recommended when ziplining as you are out in the elements and often some hiking is involved. The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid Boot ($100) is a good all-around hiker featuring a Vibram Multi-Sport Sole/TC5+ rubber with 5mm sole lug depth. The ventilation system keeps feet cool, no matter how long you are out on your feet.
Good eyewear is handy to have while ziplining, especially in the mountains and BTB 230 Sport Sunglasses ($38.99) provide you with 100 percent UVA/UVB protection in a classic, full-frame style and with HD lens technology you won’t miss one moment of your journey (so long as you aren’t afraid to keep your eyes open).
Photo courtesy of Allan Guilbeault
A fourth-generation New Hampshire native, Randy Farwell lives in Brookline with his wife and family. He is both owner and zipline guide for Alpine Adventures Outdoor Recreation LLC in Lincoln. Apart from the Lincoln location, he and his partners at Canopy Tours Inc. have built zipline courses all over the map, including ones in New York, Montego Bay in Jamaica and in Campton, Kentucky. Another is currently in the works on Catalina Island.
How did Alpine Adventures first get its start? I’m a new New Hampshire native who used to work in construction, but I moved out west to Colorado and worked for a tour outfitter and thought that would be great to have in NH. Once my wife and I were married, we wanted to be back east near family. In 1996 we started in snowmobile tours. We constantly tried to move more in the recreation department, from bikes to kayaks to ATVs, and in 2004 we thought it would be neat to do an off-road kind of tour so we purchased these military vehicles and those became the precursor to the zipline. We already owned 300 acres in Woodstock and it’s perfect for off-roading, and off-roading is perfect for ziplining, so the two just fit together. We started construction in ’05 and opened in ’06 and the first was the Treetop Tour, with six separate lines that go tree-to-tree. We have burma bridges that are high in the tree canopy, and from start to finish you have traveled quite a distance.
And what do you currently offer for adrenaline addicts? In ’08 we opened the SkyRider Tour in which two of the runs are dual ziplines, side by side, so you can race alongside others. The longest line is 1,800 feet long, and it goes mountain to mountain about 200 feet up. We have large, tree-based platforms, and the height is really thrilling. This industry is all about eco-tourism, but people here don’t want to hear about trees, they want to have fun and go fast. We end our courses with our signature “yo-yo” zip. The last cable is slack, so when you finish you experience a virtual free fall, and go back and forth and settle at the middle of the cable. Then we pull out a large, rolling staircase to get you down. Last year we opened our Super SkyRider (for more advanced riders), which is 3.5 hours, the others are 2–2.5 hours. This one has nine stations, two have zaplines — tight cables in which you have to run and propel yourself to get to the other side. On that the last zip is about 75 miles an hour. People seem to enjoy that.
Are zipliners typically thrill seekers or do you see folks trying to overcome their fears? It’s all of the above. We’ve had people as young as 6 as old as 85. In this industry we deal with the perception of danger. But we never tell anyone that their safety is 100 percent guaranteed. But safety is our number one goal and statistically it’s very, very safe. You’re much safer ziplining than driving up [Interstate] 93. For the most part it’s one of the products parents and kids can do together. We also deal a lot with Scouts and community service programs. If you have a group and you don’t have the money to cover the tour, you can do some community service, bring in a letter and we’ll discount your tour. You do need to be in fairly good condition to zipline — no back injuries, heart conditions and no expectant mothers. There are weight restrictions that are industry-wide and need to be followed as well.
What if someone wants to back out at the last minute? We’ll recommend you watch your friends go, but if you can’t we will lower you out at a quick access point where you can exit. Very few don’t do it. And you have the option to re-enter halfway through the course.
What’s unique about ziplining in Lincoln? In the White Mountains you have the four seasons and our white pines at 125 foot tall are lush and big and abundant and the topography is awe-inspiring. You can see Franconia Notch and Lafayette. Unspoiled vistas, the finest in the Northeast. For someone to be in Lowell and drive two hours, then find themselves up here in a tree — it will make them feel like they have really traveled and are removed.