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Flying Through the Trees


525313_367039870081406_1769436084_nYou don’t have to travel out west to experience soaring through the beautiful scenery of forests, hills, waterfalls and rock formations. Seeing Mother Nature up close and personal is as easy as driving to Rockbridge, Ohio to the zipline course Soaring Cliffs.


Only about a 45-minute drive from Columbus, Soaring Cliffs is now in its second ziplining season after opening in the spring of 2013. Owned by Jenel Bentley and her husband, who also have a lodging company in the Hocking Hills called Buffalo Lodge, the course has set itself apart from other ziplining courses in the area in the time since it’s been open.


Covering 57 acres of land, the nine-line course offers participants the chance to experience Ohio in almost every season of the year, since the course is open from March to November. A completely guided tour, groups don’t have to worry about the usual handbrake that is often associated with many zipline courses, since Soaring Cliffs offers automatic braking.


And those with acrophobia (fear of heights) will find solace in the fact that unlike many other zipline courses, Soaring Cliffs offers ground launch and landing platforms as opposed to being suspended in the canopy the entire time. Due to the layout of the course, zipliners gradually get further away from the ground as they go down the line.


Those interested can expect the course to last two and half to three hours, and Soaring Cliffs caters to a variety of group sizes both large and small. Bentley says they’ve run single individuals to 20 person groups on tours before. She suggests calling ahead to schedule a tour before you stop in, just to make sure they’ll have guides available for you.


As with many outdoor adventures, it’s often the tour guides who can make or break the experience. Bentley’s husband is the lead guide and worked with the developers to design the course, so visitors can expect the tour guides to not only be knowledgeable of the course itself but also the landscape and floral and fauna surrounding them.


“The majority of our guides are going through college right now for eco-tourism and majoring in this type of an activity so they can move forward and make this a life goal or career goal,” she says. ”Many of them have lots of previous experience. Their main focus is making sure people have a really good, fun safe time.”


Bentley says they’ve had zipliners from ages 5 to 89 navigate the course, and catered to Girl Scout troops, families, couples, honeymooners, and even people with cancer who have ziplining on their bucket list. They’ve also run tours for those with physical handicaps, which Bentley says they’re more than willing to accommodate.


As for the future of Soaring Cliffs, Bentley says they may look at developing lodging in tree-like structures so guests could zipline to and from their locations. There’s also the possibility of expanding the course to other areas in the region.


As for those who think soaring through the air might not be for them, Bentley has seen her fair share of people come to the course who previously weren’t planning on going with the group ultimately end up ziplining and having a blast.


“It’s really cool to see people who never thought they could do something like this and be able to do it and have a lot of fun,” she says.


To learn more about Soaring Cliffs check out their website.



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