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Canopy tour lets you fly like a bird or a plane
Guide in training Ty Capistrant tests out the zip line during a training session at North Georgia Canopy Tours in Lula. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

North Georgia Canopy Tours
Where: 5290 Harris Road, Lula
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, beginning today
How much: $69-$89
More info: 770-869-7272

North Georgia Canopy Tours opens today, offering the chance to experience the outdoors in a whole new way.

Located on 136 acres near Lula, the zip line tours will take people gliding through the treetops on lines connected by platforms. Think of the type of canopy tour popular in tropical vacation spots, only this one is in the woods of North Georgia.

It’s a fitting comparison, since owners Kirk and Leah Watkins got the idea to build a canopy tour on their property after zipping through the trees in Costa Rica on vacation.

The facility offers two tours — the sky bridge tour and the adventure tour.

The sky bridge tour, which takes about two hours, features nine zip lines, two sky bridges, two nature hikes, one zip across the North Oconee River and a final dual zip of 700 feet. The adventure tour, which takes a little more than three hours, will open April 16 and includes more than a mile of cable, 12 zip lines over the North Oconee River and three ponds, two sky bridges, three nature hikes, a 20-foot rappel and the final dual zip over the Hilltop Pond.

I was lucky enough to try this tour before it opened to the public.

Admittedly, I had a great deal of anxiety as I suited up in the harnesses before my zip. I’m not an adventurer — I’m frightened by the mere thought of extreme activities like bungee jumping and sky diving. I’ve actually worked for the better part of my life to avoid roller coasters.

But I decided to put my fears aside and give the canopy tour a try.

As a kid, I sometimes found myself lying on the back deck, staring up at the tall hardwoods in the backyard and wondering what it would be like to be one of the squirrels leaping from tree to tree.

The canopy tour is probably the closest experience to squirreldom a person can have.

To start the tour, I zipped from a man-made deck to a small wooden skirt built around the trunk of the tree. From then on I zipped from tree to tree, and each time the height felt more natural.

Though you can hit speeds of up to 30 m.p.h. while gliding up to 70 feet in the air, it’s a smooth ride. And if you’re still a little unsure, there are guides stationed throughout the trip, checking your harness or safely hooking you onto a tree if you’re waiting for someone else.

The skybridges, which are narrow suspension bridges high in the trees, offer a chance to slow down and take in the surroundings.

My favorite part of the tour was getting to enjoy the outdoors from a different perspective. From up high, the rusted tin roof of an old shed adds to the beauty of nature and reminds visitors of Northeast Georgia’s agricultural roots.

In the treetops, you can see the headwaters of the North Oconee River snaking its way through the property. The forest is quiet and as you stand on the platforms, you sway in harmony with the other trees in the wind.