New York Zipline Adventure Tours at Hunter Mountain is billed as the longest, highest, (but not necessarily fastest) zipline in North America. The fastest zipline in North America is located somewhere in Canada, according to the tour’s instructors, but two out of three superlatives is extreme enough for a good adventure.
I walked into the zipline office a bit late due to a slow-moving pick-up on Route 23A, and the rest of the group was already gearing up. I was accompanied by my girlfriend Jody, who had elected to bring a book instead of throwing herself over abysses all afternoon.
As I was signing in, one of the instructors asked her if she was going. When she replied no, he did a little chicken dance.
Zipline instructors, it turns out, have the same professional demeanor I experienced with skydiving instructors, as they seek to reassure adventurers by humorously scaring the shit out of them. This method seems to be pretty effective, as no one in my group shrank into a quivering ball while on the mountain and demanded to be driven down.
The instructor who geared me up was named Andrew, a short guy with tanned, tatted forearms who had the ultra-genuine eyes of a drug councilor admitting to his councilee that he, too, had been there.
“I’ll partner with you,” he said, staring deeply into my eyes.
Andrew said he had worked at New York Zipline Adventure Tours for five years, and I asked him if he was blasé about the experience at this point in his career, or if he still experienced a rush.
“Nah, I still get a rush,” he said.
It was viewed oddly that I had not arrived as part of a group — other adventurers kept thinking I was an instructor, and referred to me as “the odd one out.” I tried to reassure them throughout the trip that I was NOT some creepy loner staring at the other groups while madly scribbling notes.
There are five major ziplines crisscrossing Hunter Mountain. We ascended on a chairlift and entered a building where we were instructed how to best not die while on the excursion. The three instructors showed us the points of contact we had between our gear and the trolleys on the ziplines, as well as which points to DEFINITELY not touch.
Adventurers zipped down the mountain side-by-side in couples, and I was ultimately paired with a father adventuring with his daughter, his daughter’s friend and another couple. The couple included a man named Kevin with deep-set, wounded eyes who was VERY nervous about the experience.
“I was NOT looking around,” Kevin said at the end of the first run. “My eyes were focused on the platform the entire time.”
There was no turning back once you started the journey, though, and Kevin had four other ziplines to slide down.
I felt a degree of apprehension on the first line, but, like skydiving, once I plunged into the abyss, I was fine.
On the first two ziplines, adventurers had to “Cannonball,” or tuck their knees in to achieve maximum velocity and reach the other side. The position gave you a GREAT ab work-out, but didn’t allow me to look around as much as I’d hoped. On the final three ziplines, you could hang anyway you pleased, and adventurers were encouraged to spin around on the trolley, which I did with vigor.
There was a wobbly footbridge you had to cross between the fourth and fifth ziplines, though adventurers had the option of instead zipping across the gorge. The instructors said this was just for people who had “bridge phobias,” which struck me as a group who should not be on a zipline adventure tour in the first place.
Dark clouds started to roll in as we mounted the final platform, and a vigorous mountain storm pelted us with gelid, stinging drops as we crossed the final gorge. The adventure tours proceed rain or shine, and there were groups behind us that experienced the entire course soaked.
A short-bus waited for us at the end of the final zipline, and we tried to dodge raindrops as we rushed towards it. There was a sense of elation when we reached the bus: we had survived.
Ultimately, I would say ziplining doesn’t have the insane exhilaration of skydiving, but is definitely worth the trip.
Reservations for ziplining can be made here.