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Why North Georgia Canopy Tours is shutting down after 10 years of business
Austin Arrington, left, and Mark Knicely, take a ride down the dual zip line in March 2010 during a training session at North Georgia Canopy Tours in Lula before the business' opening. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Thousands of adrenaline seekers will no longer zip through the trees of Lula. 

After 10 years of serving the Hall County community, North Georgia Canopy Tours is closing its operations.

Sunday, Nov. 3, is its last day of business.

Kirk and Leah Watkins, managing members of North Georgia Canopy Tours, made the announcement Oct. 22.

“We have made this decision and it kind of still hasn’t hit us, but I know it will soon,” Leah Watkins said. “It has been an amazing experience, and if I had to do it all over again, I would. You can’t take away the wonderful memories.”

Kirk Watkins said they decided to close down the business for a couple of reasons, one being the gradual growth of competitors.

When North Georgia Canopy Tours was launched about 10 years ago, Kirk Watkins said they were the second zip line operation to open in Georgia and the only one north of Atlanta. 

“There are now around 25 canopy tours and zip line operations north of Atlanta,” Kirk Watkins said. “While we felt like we delivered the best experience out there, it was sometimes easier for people to go to one that’s closer.”

Leah Watkins said the decline of interest in zip-lining also factored in to their decision. 

“The industry as a whole has changed,” she said. “Not as many people are looking for this type of activity, and a lot of people have done it. They’ve done zipping and feel like they’ve already experienced it.”

Since opening North Georgia Canopy Tours, Kirk Watkins said over 100,000 people have visited the property. 

The land stretches over 136 acres of river, pasture and forest used for zip-lining, disc golf, camping in teepees and other outdoor activities. 

North Georgia Canopy Tours is the second zip line business to close in Hall County this year, following Lake Lanier Canopy Tours in May. 

Shane Sullars, co-owner of Lake Lanier Canopy Tours, said in May he had to close because of the increasing cost of operations and the decreasing number of people riding on the zip lines. 

Although Sullars sent his former customers over to North Georgia Canopy Tours, Kirk Watkins said the extra numbers unfortunately didn’t help. 

Kirk and Leah Watkins still plan on spending time at their lodge, which is located on the business’ property, and will keep running their other canopy tours operation in Virginia.

Kirk and Leah Wakins said the loss of being around happy employees and customers will leave the biggest gap personally.

Leah Watkins said every time she popped into North Georgia Canopy Tours, it was like getting a “fix of joy.” 

“People arrive and are all excited about being out in nature and experiencing something new,” Leah Watkins said. “Then, you see the joy on their face post-experience of how much fun they had. That’s part of what I’ll personally miss the most.”

North Georgia Canopy Tours is located at 5290 Harris Road in Lula. For more information or to reserve a zip line tour before the business closes, call 770-869-7272.

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