We covered New York Zipline Adventures when it opened its first two courses at Hunter Mountain last fall, but we haven’t returned since the company launched its third and most ambitious project yet: The Skyrider Tour, North America’s highest and fastest ziplining course, and the second-largest of its kind in the world.
Naturally, I felt compelled to investigate, so last weekend I drove to Hunter (about 130 miles north of New York City, in the Catskills) to try out the course, which consists of five, side-by-side lines (allowing you to race the person next to you).
My verdict: The first line, an intimidating 3,200-foot crossing swaying 600 feet above the valley floor, is the scariest part of the three-hour adventure. After that, you’re just flying high – and traveling as fast as 50mph.
Ready to test it out yourself? I have a few key survival tips. Zip away!Breathe easy: Our guide Cesar liked to remind us that ziplining isn’t an amusement park ride and that “it gets real” on the mountain – after all, just a cable and harness sends zippers flying between mountaintops. Even so, the outfit is impressively safe: All cables on the Skyrider hold a minimum of 60,000 pounds, the cloth harnesses support as much as 5,000 pounds, and the professionally trained guides inspect every buckle, strap, and carabiner before sending you into the trees.
Bring a backpack: There are token-operated lockers at the office to store your belongings, but I still suggesting packing a secure backpack with essentials – car keys, IDs, sunscreen, cash to tip the guides. If you’re going on a mid-day adventure, stash some granola bars and water in your bag, since the three-hour excursion will zip right through lunchtime.
Dress appropriately: New York Zipline Adventures operates tours rain or shine, sleet or snow (just not if there’s lightning), so check the forecast and dress for the day. I lucked out with a perfect, sunny June afternoon, but flying through the forest in sopping wet clothes would be decidedly less delightful.
Stretch it out: Perhaps (probably) I am woefully out of shape, but for two days after the tour my abs hurt when I laughed; my neck felt sore from, well, soaring; and my shoulders were tight from hanging onto the trolley that linked my harness to the cable. Be prepared for a workout – and perhaps have some Advil waiting at home.
From the New York City area, Hunter Mountain is a doable day trip, though anticipate at least a 2.5-hour ride each way. Buses also run regularly between NYC and Hunter.
To reserve, go to www.ziplinenewyork.com; the Skyrider Tour costs $119 per person.