If you’re looking for a different and exciting way to spend a day or a weekend this fall, a short ride to the southwest of Atlanta you can find it. The Lodges at Historic Banning Mills can literally have you flying through the air!
Banning Mills debuted as an Eco Zip-line Canopy Tour destination in 2008. Today the Guinness World Records recognizes the Banning Mills cables as the longest and largest zip line canopy course in the world. The complex stretches more than 47,000 linear feet. A visitor can soar for more than nine miles on these lines, without ever repeating a ride.
The zip lines are divided into seven courses, ranging from beginner introductions on the Forest Canopy or Woodland tours to major two-day adventures on the Extreme Course. Corridors have been trimmed back just enough along the zip lines to allow safe passage through the tree limbs. On the longer runs the ride begins above the trees and then descends through the canopy.
At the end of many of the lines, you find yourself perched on platforms high above the ground. To reach the next jump-off point, it’s necessary to cross rope suspension bridges to nearby trees. Those often are more harrowing than riding the zip lines. That prospect is particularly unsettling on the Extreme Course when crossing the 600-foot Sky Trek Bridge that hangs 190 feet above the gorge on Snake Creek.
An adventure on the zip lines at Banning Mills culminates with the twin thrills of challenging the Screaming Eagle and Flight of the Falcon lines. Both measure more than 3000 feet long and drop 300 feet in elevation.
Being a hardcore thrill seeker is not a necessary ingredient for checking out the Banning Mills zip lines. There are no age limits for the tours. In fact, a spry lady past her 90th birthday holds the record as the course’s oldest rider. The only restrictions are for weight. Depending on the course, riders must be at least 50 or 90 pounds, with upper limits at 250 pounds for women and 285 for men.
Each participant goes through a quick training and safety program before heading out. Most zip line tours provide a safety strap in addition to the pulley connection to the cable. At Banning Mills the harness has two such straps. At least one of those straps is connected to a secure cable at all times during a tour. Additionally, two guides accompany each group of riders, closely monitoring safety activity.
Banning Mills offers two beginning level and three advanced zip line courses. They also have the Extreme Course that is less regimented. Rather than a programed tour, it offers eight hours of zip lining on a wide variety of lines. Additionally, there is an option for a two-day version of the Extreme Course.
The Lodges at Historic Banning Mills offer a variety of accommodations in their bed-and-breakfast plan. Motel style efficiency rooms are available both creek side and lodge side, as well as efficiency cabins, cottages and full-sized cabins. Breakfasts are served in combination with each of the lodging options. An R/V campground is also situated on site.
The dining room in the Banning Mills Lodge is not open for walk-in visitors, but hosts breakfast for guests daily. Guest also may arrange lunches and even elegant dinners upon request.
Other amenities and activities offered are a day spa, horseback riding, kayak trips on the nearby Chattahoochee River, the tallest freestanding climbing wall in the world, a power free-fall, catch-and-release lake and creek fishing, hiking in Snake Creek Gorge, a birds of prey show, and even the opportunity to participate in a falconry hunt.