NICKERSON, Neb. — Zip lining has arrived in Nebraska.
As recently as last summer, the state was home to only a few single-run zip lines, mostly at scout camps. But soon, many eastern Nebraskans will be an easy drive away from two multi-line courses, the first of which opened to the public Wednesday at a Girl Scout camp near Fremont.
Soaring Hawk Zip Line Tour is a five-line course at Camp Crossed Arrows in Nickerson. Located about an hour northwest of Omaha, it was buzzing Wednesday as its first riders — Girl Scouts advisory group students from Lincoln and Omaha — took turns on the lines. More than a dozen careened down the 30-mph lines, high above the woods and creeks of the Elkhorn River Valley.
“That was terrifying!” screamed 12-year-old Mikaela Roger as she came to a halt at the end of the final line, one that crosses a wooded ravine.
This wasn’t her first time on a zip line, and it wasn’t for many in the group, either. No matter how scared she was, Roger said there’s no doubt she’ll be back.
“Oh heck yeah,” she said.
Soaring Hawk is open for its first full season after a test run this past fall. Next month, the state’s second multi-course zip line, a six-liner, will open at Mahoney State Park. Until then, this is Nebraska’s one and only.
And the new course is unique in another way. Girl Scout leaders had asked campers for several years what they’d like to see added to camps. Zip lines were at the top of the list; thus became Soaring Hawk, which is named for the birds that circle above the camp.
“We’re thrilled it’s finally completed,” said Michael Davis, council property director for Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska Council. “Each one has a little bit of a unique view of the grounds.”
A full five-line tour spans 2,208 feet of line and a total distance, including walking, of 3,590 feet. For visitors unable or unwilling to walk, hayrack rides are available to move from one line to another.
There are weight limits — not less than 60 pounds and not more than 275 — and the tour takes two to three hours to complete. Reservations can be made in three-hour blocks starting at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Soaring Hawk is a Girl Scout camp, but it’s open to the public. Scouts, of course, get discounts.
Proceeds from the zip line are used primarily to fund its operation. Any profits will help support Camp Crossed Arrows and other scout camps across the state.
The first of the five zip lines is wheelchair accessible, and staff plans to modify a ramp on the second line to make it accessible as well.
Zip lines are inspected daily, with more thorough checks coming on a monthly and annual basis.
Davis said the camp plans to add two more lines near the Elkhorn River as funds allow. They were not built into the initial design because several trees would have to be removed to clear a path. Only a few trees and branches had to be removed for the first five lines.
The project cost about $200,000 and took about three months to construct. Texas-based Adventure Experiences built the facility.
“They said we’re the first Girl Scout camp in the country to do anything like this,” said Rob Anderson, challenge course manager for the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska Council.
Girl Scouts Troop 45325, from Omaha, won a Facebook contest last fall to earn rights to make the first wind-rushed pass down the zip lines.
Cassie Brown, a 16-year-old member of the Girl Scout Advisory Group, said she hopes the facility will attract more girls to the camp.
“Girl Scouts is about adventurous stuff like this,” she said.
Soaring Hawk Zip Line Tour
What: Nebraska’s first multi-course zip line, with five stations
Where: Camp Crossed Arrows, 12997 County Road P1, Nickerson
Sessions: 9 a.m. to noon; 1 to 4 p.m., 4 to 7 p.m.
Prices: $20 for Girl Scouts ages 10-18; $30 for Girl Scout adults; $40 for non-Girl Scout youth ages 10-18; $50 for non-Girl Scout adults
Weight limitations: 60 to 275 lbs
More info and reservations:bit.ly/2GtFy5G or call 800-695-6690