As part of a romantic getaway to La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, we zipped on over to Helotes Hill Country Ziplines and enjoyed a couple hours of soaring like a bird over some beautiful Texas hill country just minutes north of San Antonio. Helotes Hill Country Ziplines is the creation of Ralph Madia and his son Rodney who own some beautiful property known as the Madia Ranch with rolling meadows, deep canyons, and high hills with spectacular views that's been a family homestead since the 1850s.
In 2013, after riding a zipline in Colorado and surveying their property they decided "we can do this and provide a very unique zipline experience." After a year of research of other ziplines, safety equipment, zipline materials and construction the two began to design their course. They took their design to a certified construction engineer who reviewed the design and gave them his stamp of approval! It was then that their journey began as they started building a world-class zipline adventure which opened in September 2014.
Like most fun adventures, they don't sit right on some major freeways and for Helotes Hill Country Zipline you'll need to drive a narrow dirt road that winds through some beautiful Hill Country. After passing several wood directional arrows with "zipline" printed on them and some antique farm equipment, we arrived at the Helotes Hill Country Zipline office and were warmly greeted by Ralph and his son Rodney. Within minutes my brother, wife, and I were fitted with our harness, gloves, and helmets. We would never win any beauty contests but we were suited up and excited about zipping.
Next up was "zipline ground school" where Rodney taught us the basics - lean back, cross your legs, put your right hand on the pulley, use your left hand to brake, watch for my signals to brake, and have fun. And how to reverse our direction and pull ourselves to the platform if we stop short of the landing zone. Before heading out we needed to practice on a short zipline 8 feet off the ground. We all passed the test, piled in Rodney's truck, and drove a few minutes to the top of one of the hills and our first zipline. Loved it - no huffing and puffing up a mountain wearing all that gear on a hot summer day to get to the first zipline, which is what we've had to do at other places we've zipped. At Helotes Hill Country Zipline you zip from tower to tower and from tower to ground except for a one minute hike up to one of the longest ziplines. And your final zipline drops you off in front of the office and your car. How painless is that!
There are 10 ziplines at Helotes Hill Country Zipline, #1 and #2 were still under construction, which means we started on #3 which is 420 feet long and 50 feet above ground and it's the warm up, practice your zipping skills, and get rid of the shakes zipline - it's the slowest one at 12 miles an hour. Slow but fun and it dropped us off at #4 which is a little longer (435 feet), a little higher (75 feet) and a little faster at 20 miles an hour. Next up is the shortest zipline on the course at 360 feet and it's also 75 feet off the ground and about 20 miles and hour which seems more like 50 miles an hour.
After #3 we were all confident, having fun, enjoying the scenery, and ready for the longer and faster ziplines. A one minute easy hike took us up to #6 and a 45 foot tower with a spectacular view. This zipline is 620 feet long and it takes you from hill side to hill side over a valley 100 feet below you. Wow - that was fun. I thought I was going 100 miles an hour and was disappointed to learn it was only 30 miles and hour.
Zipline #7 is a 425 feet long from a 45 foot tower and it takes you to another tower where you'll descend a rope suspension bridge and take a short easy walk to the big daddy zipline at Helotes Hill Country Zipline. #9 is 1000 feet long and 75 feet high and has an 8 degree slope that takes you zooming down the mountainside at 35 to 45 miles an hour. How am I going to stop was my first thought! Turns out the zipline has a curve back up to the tower which slows you down making your braking much easier.
From the last tower you zip 450 feet down to the ground in front of the office and next to your car. I hated to see it end and here's what made zipping at Helotes Hill Country Zipline enjoyable:
Anyone from 11 to 111 can zip as long as they weigh at least 85 pounds and less than 275. Children under the age of 11 may ride tandem with a guide provided they fit into the harness. A parent must accompany the child on the course. And you must be able to walk at least one flight of stairs if you want to zip. In the near future you'll be able to enjoy a rock climbing wall and an aerial challenge course. Next time you're in San Antonio make sure you give them a try!