Richland Creek ZipLine Takes People Through the Woods

By Cary Estes on February 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm EST
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Increasingly, travelers from the Northeast and Midwest are zipping through Randolph County. And that’s a good thing. Because in this case, zipping refers to the Richland Creek ZipLine Canopy Tour.

A zipline is an inclined cable attached to tree stands well above the ground. A person is secured to the cable in a mountain-climbing type of harness, and gravity allows them to glide – or “zip” – from one tree stand to another.

Ziplines have been around for more than 100 years, but they are a relatively new leisure activity, especially in the United States. When Richland Creek opened in 2008 it was just the second zipline tour in North Carolina, and it remains the only one in Randolph County. But it has quickly become popular, particularly among out-of-state travelers.

“We’ve had people come in from all over the world, but we especially get a lot of people from Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Michigan who stop by on their way to the beach,” says JoAnn Hammer, who owns and operates Richland Creek along with her husband, Ernest. “We’ve had people tell us that every year when they go to the beach, this is going to be a stopping point for them. We get more people from outside Randolph County than from around here.”

An Innovative Use of Land

The company began because Ernest Hammer owned a piece of property approximately 5 miles outside Asheboro that had been in his family for years, but he wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“It’s beautiful land, and we’ve always had hikers come through,” JoAnn Hammer says. “We wanted to come up with something where we could keep it natural and available for people to use.”

Then one day Ernest Hammer saw a show about ziplines on the National Geographic Channel. He turned to JoAnn and said, “I think we can do this.” So Ernest began researching ziplines and talked with people throughout the world who were knowledgeable about them. Eventually the couple brought in an engineer who had constructed ziplines in Colorado and Costa Rica, and after two years of planning Richland Creek was open for business.

The facility has a total of more than a mile-and-a-quarter of cable spread along 14 different lines, taking customers through the woods, over canyons and alongside streams and waterfalls. A certified guide goes out with each group, though the prospect of soaring amongst the trees can still be initially unnerving to first-timers.

“Some people are a little apprehensive to start with, but afterward they say how great it was,” JoAnn Hammer says. “We had one man who came here four times in a week. It’s gone over really well.”

Richland Creek is open daily (weather permitting) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is $40 for adults, $25 for children age 12 and under. Reservations can be made by calling (336) 629-9440 or through email at zipline@embarqmail.com.

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