NEWRY — Across the country, hanging, harnessed tree fliers can increasingly be seen zipping around mountains. And this month, zip lines finally arrive in Maine’s mountains when the state’s biggest ski areas open their forested zip line tours.
Sugarloaf’s zip line opens Aug. 7 and Sunday River’s is expected to open in the next two weeks.
While Maine got its first public zip line park this summer along Route 1 in Wiscasset at Monkey C Monkey Do, riding these ripping trolly swings in the mountains is definitely different.
The chance to swing from tree to tree in a forest amidst the birds seems a little like the way zipping should be.
Zip lines were made popular in South America, Thailand, New Zealand, South Africa and Costa Rica, where forests and mountains are the backdrops for intrepid riders.
New Hampshire jumped into zip line rides, with two at Alpine Adventures in Lincoln — the first large-canopy tour in New England — and this summer at Boyne Resorts’ Loon Mountain, also in Lincoln.
And in the coming months, New York is expected to get the highest zip line canopy ride in North America with a 600-foot-high ride at Hunter Mountain Ski Area in Hunter.
The company behind Maine’s zip lines has similar ambitions.
Boyne Resorts, which owns Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Loon, had such success with zip line parks at Big Sky in Montana and Boyne Mountain in Michigan that the decision was made to bring them East all at once.
“Boyne ultimately wants to have zip lines as a summer attraction at all their ski areas. It’s sort of a companywide thing. … It will be a pretty cool experience to fly through the woods at night on a zip line,” said Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin.
Both Maine mountains will have zip lines that range in distance from 150 feet to 300 feet and reach heights of 40 feet off the ground.
Sugarloaf’s park will have six lines and lights to allow for nighttime zipping. Sunday River will have five lines. And folks at both ski areas plan to increase the zip line experience here.
And why not? Mountains are simply made for zipping.
While standing on the zip line platforms in the western mountains, a zip rider is high up, far away, in a remote location.
These are more than just rides. They’re flyways go through openings the tree tops that span over waterfalls, streams and gorges.
Sunday River spokesperson Darcy Liberty said the success of zip line parks around the country is exciting.
“We have the terrain for it. We have so much acreage, and the elevation. We could do so much with zip lines. The sky is literally the limit,” Liberty said.
And at both ski areas, zip riders can soar in the mountain forests all winter long.
“At the highest point, you’re about 40 feet up,” Austin said. “Some obviously are bigger and more built-up with canopy tours that take you 90 feet up. That’s not quite our experience, but it’s very similar. And those tours cost $110 at a pop, while ours is more modestly priced.”
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: