Commercial zip lines are popular and plentiful in the Carolinas. You sit in a harness suspended from the pulley that runs on cables. Its close-fitting, so dress comfortably in longer shorts or long pants; wear close-toe shoes. Youll want your pockets as empty as possible. Equipment (always a helmet, sometimes gloves) is provided.
Here are some of the noteworthy operators. Contact them in advance: Reservations are often required; prices (usually $40-$90) and days/hours, as well as age/weight restrictions, vary.
Navitat Canopy Adventures, Barnardsville: This course, 20 miles north of Asheville, is tucked into the mountains surrounding Moody Cove. The canopy tour is entirely tree-based and features 10 zip lines, 120 to 1,100 feet in length. On the Navitat at Night tour, where you zip among owls, opossums and fireflies, with a lantern on your helmet. (www.navitat.com)
ZipQuest, Fayetteville: The Carvers Falls area that you see while aloft is far from flat. There are eight zip lines, and one 1,000-foot run crosses over the 150-feet-wide falls. You can also see the Old Mill House from several of the lines. (www.zipquest.com)
Screaming Ziplines, Boone: A regular 2 1/2-hour tour consists of six zip lines; the shortest is 450 feet long, the longest is 850. The Super Zip is a whopping 2,000 feet a half mile where two co-flyers can race down the mountain. (www.screamingziplines.com)
Big Woods Zip line, Boonville: This Yadkin Valley zip line is not far down the road from Sanders Ridge Winery. The aerial course has 12 lines ranging from 100 to 800 feet. (www.bigwoodszipline.com)
The Beanstalk Journey at Catawba Meadows, Morganton: The minimum zip age is 4 at this kid-friendly operation. The theme here riffs off Jack & The Beanstalk (a 32-foot climbing tower) and Star Wars (elevated platforms are done up to resemble Ewok villages). There are 10 zip lines, five on each of its two courses. Full Moon tours available certain evenings (you wear a headlamp). (http://thebeanstalkjourney.com/the-beanstalk-journey)
Chattooga Ridge Canopy Tours, Long Creek, S.C.: Chattooga Adventure Center, in Oconee County, occupies the buildings and grounds of Long Creek Academy, a school that operated between 1914 and 1975. The 10 zip lines traverse more than 2 acres; besides passing the main academy building (a National Historic Site), youll also fly over Academy Lake four times. (www.adventureamericaziplinecanopytours.com)