MagazineMay 2010Southeast Canopy Tours

Southeast Canopy Tours

Canopy Tours Stretch Across the Southeast

Zipline canopy tours are popping up across the Southeast, but the new canopy tour at Class VI Adventures in the New River Gorge pushes more than just adrenaline. The mile-long tour, consisting of 10 zip lines and five cable bridges, explores an old growth hemlock forest, with some trees dating back 400 years. Class VI is using the tours to raise awareness about the wooly adelgid, an invasive species that is decimating the eastern hemlock. The wooly adelgid has already made its way through Virginia and North Carolina, leaving dead hemlocks in its wake and is just now entering West Virginia.

“When you show people pictures and video of large swaths of dead forests, then take them through a predominantly healthy hemlock forest, it resonates with them,” says Class VI owner Paul Buechler.

Every tour patron is charged $1 for hemlock treatment, which is then matched by Class VI. The money is then used to treat area hemlocks with a pesticide that kills the invasive species. Buechler also hopes the old growth forest surrounding the canopy tour will become a release site for an experimental beetle that Virginia Tech has been studying to treat hemlocks.

“Every tree over four inches in diameter on our property is tagged and treated,” Buechler says. “If our guests can help save a 400-year-old tree, that’s a powerful thing.”

More Zip
Costa Rica doesn’t have a monopoly on zipline canopy tours. Check out these two new treetop adventures in the Blue Ridge.

Navitat Canopy Adventures:
Guides lead you through a course of platforms, sky bridges, cables, and rappels set on a 240-acre tract of forest on the edge of Pisgah near Asheville, N.C. Tour guides discuss the biodiversity of the surrounding forest (some of the trees are 100 years old), and the course gets you 200 feet off the ground with ziplines as long as 1,100 feet.

Go Ape:
This British company (there are 26 Go Ape canopy tours in England) takes a different approach with their first canopy tour in the U.S. Set inside Rock Creek Regional Park near Rockville, MD, Go Ape trains its guests, then sets them loose on a course packed with ziplines, “Tarzan” swings, rope ladders, bridges, and trapezes scattered throughout the forest canopy.

Places to Go, Things to See: