On March 1st, Callaway Gardens opened their second TreeTop Adventure Course with three new zip lines that go right over Mountain Creek Lake.
The new course is appropriately named, the Lake Course.
Rachel Crumbley, Callaway Gardens’ director of marketing and public relations, has already completed the new Lake Course and the original Discovery Course twice this season.
“With the addition of the new course, we now have 25 obstacles and 11 zip lines that guests get to take advantage of,” Crumbley said. “Our guests have always enjoyed the gardens from the ground, now they get to see new views from up to 70 feet above the ground.”
The courses are not just a series of zip lines that are strung together, they both also contain a number of obstacles that guests need to maneuver their way through and around. Swinging bridges, suspended logs and swaying steps all add elements that challenge and keep guests wondering what the next task will be. Although it might sound a bit dangerous, everyone using the course goes through an initial safety briefing and are hooked to a safety cable, by two different lines, throughout their entire adventure.
On the morning of March 26th, the 12 mph wind made it feel like 32 degrees but that didn’t stop the Jeter family from starting their TreeTop Adventure.
Amy Jeter, along with her husband, Chuck, and her 12 year-old son Quinton, was picking up her helmet, gloves and safety harness and preparing to enter the Discovery Course.
“We are from Tallassee, Ala., and are on spring break. My son and I have been here before but this is my husband’s first time,” Amy Jeter said. “This is our son’s birthday present, and he is really looking forward to doing the new Lake Course.”
Even though mother and son had gone through the original course before, they too were required to complete the safety briefing that the experienced Callaway Gardens’ employees give to each guest. Employee Eric Jones gave detailed instructions to the Jeter family and then watched as each member demonstrated the required techniques.Once he was confident that the family understand and knew how to use the carabiners — the safety clips that keep you tethered to the main safety cable throughout the course — their gloves and the zip line, he allowed them to enter the Discovery Course.
All guests must go through the safety briefing and successfully navigate the Discovery Course before they can start the Lake Course.Both courses are designed to be self-guiding but there are safety spotters on the ground watching to make sure that people are able to handle the course and that they are following the required safety procedures. This season, easier routes have been added to the Discovery Course to allow individuals to bypass some of the more difficult obstacles.
“In the event someone feels that they need to be rescued, the safety spotters are trained to go up, secure the individual and safely lower the person back down to the ground,” Crumbley said. “These courses are safe and not many people ever need to be rescued.”
High up in the trees, riding down from one of the Discovery Course’s zip lines was 11-year-old Cali Culbertson. Cali was with her father, Chuck Culbertson, and her grandfather Justin Culbertson, and seemed to be having a great time. Justin Culbertson said that they had come from Fayette, Ga.. and were all having fun going through the courses together. They were going to go onto the Lake Course after they finished the Discovery Course.
“On the Lake Course, you go over water three different times with the longest zip line measuring 700 feet,” Crumbley said. “To get to that line you have to climb a extreme obstacle, a 70-foot ladder, so you start out at 70 feet in the air.”
Crumbley said that the 700 foot-long zip line allows you enough time to be able to relax and enjoy both the ride and the view. The line also has a certain amount of slack built into it so that as a rider approaches the end of the line, there is a natural deceleration. Riders are also able to control their speed by lightly using their special safety gloves along the cable, the slight friction is enough to slow the person down.
“Many people have overcome their fear of heights and have surprised themselves with their accomplishments,” Crumbley said. “They walk away standing a bit taller and often go into the Discovery gift shop and buy the ‘I Survived TreeTop Adventure’ tee-shirt. The courses have added a new level of adrenaline here at Callaway and new perspectives”
The cost for TreeTop Adventure Course is $35 per guest; the Lake Course can be added for $15 per guest. Gate admission is additional. Group rates are available. Guests must be at least 54 inches tall and fit into a 48 inch harness at the waist. Advanced reservations are suggested and qualify for a discounted gate admission, some restrictions do apply. For more information, visit www.callawaygardens.com/treetop, or call 1-800-225-5292.