A look at new zip line canopy tour at Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls has one of the highest cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi, boasting a 729-foot cascade. The park around the falls is also one of the few Georgia state parks with a lodge.

And now this popular spot to visit is offering a new zip line course called “Aerial Adventure Park at Amicalola Falls.”

The new outdoor adventure includes 11 zip lines providing a two-hour canopy tour of North Georgia. The course begins near the edge of the lodge but then ventures into pristine areas with lakes, mountain views with soaring bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and spectacular greenery. During the coming weeks, as leaves change color on the maple, poplar and hawthorn trees, the zip lines will offer a spectacular foliage tour.

The zip lines range in height from as little as 60 feet off the ground to as high as 250 into the air. The longest zip line is 2,000 feet. Coral Hospitality, which manages the Amicalola State Park and Lodge, has partnered with American Adventure Park Systems, which manages several zip line courses including Historic Banning Mills. Eleven zip lines and seven suspension bridges were recently unveiled at Unicoi State Park, which is also managed by Coral Hospitality.

About a year ago, Amicalola Falls State Park added new activities for the outdoor enthusiasts, including a 3-D archery trail with targets shaped like bears, deer and raccoons in the woods, GPS scavenger hunts and survivalist camps (camping outdoors without a tent or gear). At the time, Amicalola Falls State Park only offered a small zip line course for team building exercises for groups. But after a steady stream of visitors expressed interest in zip lining, Coral Hospitality decided to seize on the demand for this form of adventure tourism. (See box for three more zip line excursions worth checking out in Georgia.)

Heath Carter, regional vice president of sales and marketing for Coral Hospitality, said all of these new offerings including zip lines are designed to not only give visitors to Amicalola a reason to make a day trip there, but also have them stay longer, perhaps even spend the night at the lodge.

On Thursday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution got a first look (and experience) catching a ride through the trees during the grand opening of the zip lines at Amicalola. A tour guide spent several minutes discussing the course and how to enjoy the course safely. Zip liners use American Adventure Park Systems’ patented QuickTrekker closed-belay system, which ensures a secure connection to lines at all times throughout the canopy adventure, rather than transferring connections.

The ride allows you to feel the exhilaration of gliding through the canopy in a safe, secure way. Closed-toe shoes are a must, as well as comfortable clothing. The course is designed for all levels including beginners. The minimum age is 8 (and a child must also weigh 80 pounds). But it was still plenty fast for this AJC reporter, a zip line novice. The aerial park also has three cable and wood suspension bridges that link the zip lines, offering a nice moment to take in the views.

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Kelly Sundstrom contributed to this article.