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Flying high

Seen from the Leap of Faith zipline, participants can see the full panorama of Lake Travis and the dock where the boats disembark.
Photo by Celeste Cook

Flying high

Parker Dumas and LTZA tour guide Jessie Chiella set up a forced perspective shot from one of the LTZA ziplines.

Flying high

A concession stand with drinks and light refreshments awaits zipliners at the end.

Flying high

LTZA supplies water throughout the hike.
Photo submitted by LTZA

Flying high
Flying high

High fives across the sky: Participants on a Lake Travis Zipline Adventures tour beckon to each other as they take the platform.
Photos submitted by LTZA

Flying high

Add some zip to a summer day trip with Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Once summer is in full swing, Central Texas families begin to seek kid-friendly day trips that would be too far afield for a standard school week.

Depending on the ages of the children involved, a day trip needs to fall within reasonable driving distance from home, with the destination itself promising enough engaging activity to entertain the kids for several hours. Access to restrooms and kid-friendly food options are also a high priority. Options include amusement parks, water parks, camping excursions and hiking.

Or, for those eager to try an adventure in the sky, try a zipline.

Located in Leander, Lake Travis Zipline Adventures fits the day-trip criteria by being roughly an hour north of San Marcos, and it boasts five exciting ziplines.

“It’s the longest zipline in the whole world… of Texas,” Nate Norvell, an LTZA guide, said at the start of the three-hour guided zipline tour. Norvell, by day in insurance, works as a certified zipline guide just for the sheer fun of it. “Just like you, I came out for a zipline tour. Later, I got an email to come back out. There was a link at the bottom that said they were hiring. I’ve been doing it now for three years. I love it.”

Norvell and fellow guide, Jessie Chiella, work in tandem to ensure that all guests in each group receive proper instruction before taking to the skies. The groups consist of ten to twelve members each — a mix of families with elementary- school children, college students and older couples. Norvell is a former Air Force medic and Chiella is a grad student at UT working on a degree in chemistry. Both are certified in first aid and CPR. They exude the confidence of those who understand that ziplining can be a frightening activity, and they want to reassure everyone of their safety.

“It really is a safe thing to do if you follow our directions,” Norvell said, as he showed the participants the ropes. Literally.

Lake Travis Zipline Adventures boasts five of the fastest and longest ziplines in Texas, all of which crisscross the turquoise waters and pristine canyons of Lake Travis. The smaller two of the five ziplines range around 300-ft each.

“Those are like the bunny- slopes,” Norvell said. “There are two kinds of ziplines: canopy and venture. A venture zipline is longer and faster.”

With a canopy zipline, participants must angle their bodies to slow their descent as they arrive at the ending platform. With a venture line, the guides use ropes and pulleys to put on the brakes.

“Out here, we do all the work for you,” Norvell said. “Here you just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

The ride begins with a quick boat trip to Zipline Island, followed by a light trek up to the first platforms. LTZA provides free lockers back at the base camp to store anything participants don’t want to carry with them. They also provide free water along the journey, which is about three miles total between the five ziplines. At the end of the journey, there is a bar and concession stand with light snacks and drinks.

After the first two, smaller ziplines, the group graduates to the longer, faster thrill rides. The first is the Leap of Faith, which is 1,800ft. long — “About six football fields,” Norvell said. “To put it in Texas terms.” This is followed by the Line of Majesty, regarded as the prettiest zipline because it crosses over a pristine section of Lake Travis. The final ride of the day is the Double Barrel Shotgun: 2,800-ft in length and achieving up to 65 miles an hour in speed. As the name promises, this is a double zipline, meaning that members of the party get to race it out to the finish. It is truly an amazing experience.

“It’s like an air spa,” Norvell said. “You don’t have any weight on your body, so you can just fly. It’s the perfect summer activity.”

In addition to day time tours, LTZA also offers night and sunset tours, as well as a special oncea- month moonlight tour.

Lake Travis Zipline Adventures operates from Wednesdays to Mondays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A three-hour guided zipline tour is $141 per person plus tax. The maximum tour size is 13 people per tour. Participants must be a minimum of 70 pounds; maximum weight is 250 lbs. Reservations are required. For more information, call 512-614-1996 or visit ziplaketravis.com.

This article is Part One in a three-part series featuring day trips for families around Central Texas.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666