This is part of an occasional series that will explore some of the area’s most exciting and little known opportunities for everyone’s inner adrenaline junkie — editor.
FAYETTEVILLE — In a time when the urban sprawl has become nearly unavoidable, a place like Canver’s Falls, a virtually untouched forest area located in the Sandhills of North Carolina, seems like it would be ruined by the clumsy footsteps of hikers. But the land’s owner has found a way for visitors to enjoy nature’s majesty without ever setting a foot on the ground.
A few years ago, the Bryan family decided the best way to both share the natural beauty of the land with visitors and keep the animals and plant-life untouched, was to create a series of canopies in the forest’s tallest trees, connected by suspension bridges and the experience’s main draw: Zip-lines.
A zip-line is a stainless steel rope suspended on a cable at an incline that enables thrill-seekers to slide down it using a free moving pulley.
The family officially named the Canver’s Fall attraction “Zipquest: Waterfall & Treetop Adventure,” and opened it to the public in 2010. It is located in North Fayetteville, at 533 Carver’s Falls Road.
As suggested by the name, one of the attraction’s main draws is a two-story-tall waterfall that is said to be the tallest waterfall East of the Appalachian Mountains.
According to George Howard, operations manager, the activity has attracted thrill-seekers from all over the state, including Robeson County resident Tonya Parker Teal of Parkton.
“I have gone twice with a group of friends,” Teal said. “It is awesome … The first group I went with was all girls and most of the group was super girly. We were all extremely nervous but after the third or fourth zip you feel like a pro.”
Teal said one of her favorite parts of the experience is what the attraction’s owners refer to as the “swing-shot,” a quick release from three stories up that takes the willing participant more than 100 feet into the sky.
“We have a significant amount of folks who come here with a fear of heights but once we take you through our ground school, and we show you that we are safety conscious, that puts people at ease,” Howard said. “It is enough to be able to give people that thrill, but not going to scare the pants off of you.”
The 55-acre forest contains eight zip-lines, with some reaching as high as 40 feet in the air, with views that Parker describes as a “hidden treasure.” According to Howard, there has been an effort to preserve the land’s natural beauty by ensuring that very few people are allowed to walk on the grounds, or disturb the wildlife.
“They teach you about every tree you touch and how they can remove their stuff and not leave a footprint,” Parker said.
According to Howard, there is no typical participant, though for safety reasons participants must be 10 years old or older and weigh less than 250 pounds.
“Some are first-timers, some are bucket-listers, from all walks of life,” Howard said. “It is a really neat way for people to get out and have an adventure.”
An adventure is exactly what J.R. Hurstwit and his wife Wendy Hurstwit say they received during their recent visit.
“It was a lot of fun. It was longer, higher, and more beautiful than I expected,” said J.R. Hurstwit, who teaches philosophy at Methodist University. “I’m sort of afraid of heights, a little bit, but the views were worth the adrenaline.”
The cost for participation is $85 per person, though Howard says that there are group discounts.
“We are a four-season course, every season has its own adventure,” Howard said. “[During] the summer time we see a lot of travelers, but come fall when the leaves start to change, it is absolutely gorgeous. In the winter months, it is again this own kind of pristine forest. It is pretty amazing.”
To add more variety to the experience, the business has added a Nightquest Tour, which allows adventurers to ascend from tree-to-tree guided only by the flashlight on their helmet. This is good news for people like Parker, who hopes to visit for a third time.
“We will be going back for sure,” Parker said. “We had such a ball both times but both times were during the day, once with all girls and then once with all our husbands. What we really want to do is wait until it cools off and do night time zip lining. That’s our plan anyways and this time we’re bringing everybody.”