NICKERSON – While Nebraska is home to a multitude of outdoor activities, one increasingly popular activity had been unavailable to thrill seekers across the state until now.
The recent opening of Soaring Hawk Zip Line Tour at Camp Crossed Arrows in Nickerson, marked the first opportunity for kids and adults to enjoy a multi-line zip course anywhere in the state.
“We’ve got challenge courses at four of our camps and all of those include a (single-run) zip line and that is always a favorite thing for the kids and the adults to go on,” Michael Davis, council property director for Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska Council, said. “Of course now having the zip-tour that will just maximize that zipping experience.”
The new, first-of-its-kind in Nebraska, Soaring hawk Zip Line Tour features five lines that send zippers over the wooded ravines and rolling hills of the Elkhorn River Valley near Nickerson and officially opened to the public on March 14.
Between all five lines, riders get to soar across 2,208 feet of line. With walking the total distance of the tour is 3,590 feet, but the camp also offers a hayrack ride to escort riders throughout the tour.
“We have a people puller that will take everybody from zip line to zip line,” Davis said.
Soaring Hawk’s first riders were a group of Girl Scouts advisory group students from Omaha and Lincoln, who took to the air last Wednesday, zipping down the course at speeds up to 30 mph.
“They are our older girls who are part of our scout advisory group, so they provide a lot of feedback to us as to what they want to do at camp and what amenities they would like to see,” Davis said.
Although Camp Crossed Arrows is a Girl Scouts camp, the new Soaring Hawk Zip Line Tour is also open to public.
A complete tour will cost $20 for Girl Scouts ages 10-18, and $20 for Girl Scout affiliated adults, while non-Girl Scouts youth will pay $40 and adults $50.
According to Davis, the tour takes around two to three hours to complete and reservations can be made in three-hour blocks from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1-4 p.m., and 4-7 p.m.
“We are hoping everything from youth groups, church groups, civic groups, etc. will come out and ride,” Davis said. “Say if a Midland University club, or organization, wants to come out and use it as kind of a team-building experience. We want to keep it as busy as possible.”
There is a weight limit for the course, with riders having to weigh more than 60 pounds and less than 275 to ride.
The first line of the course is also wheelchair accessible, with plans to make the second line also Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
“The first line does have a ramp on if we need to bring wheelchairs up,” Rob Anderson, challenge course manager for the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska Council, said. “Our goal is to have both of these be handicap accessible, we just have to do a couple modifications on the second ramp.”
Along with adding more wheelchair accessibility, according to Davis there are plans to add two more lines closer to the Elkhorn River in the foreseeable future.
“It is scalable, so at some point in time we can add another two runs,” he said. “We are still working on funding for that, and where the other two would go would require some tree clearing as well.”
The tour is designed so that riders can ease in to the experience — with the first line the lowest and the fifth line the highest.
“We sequence it so one is kind of the ease in, two is a little bit higher and so on,” Anderson said. “The way it was designed we used the lay of the land so none of them are really high platforms that you have to jump off of.”
While riders only have to go up a few steps on to each platform, the fifth and final line in the tour takes them across a deep ravine.
“When you go across that last ravine from the belly of the zip, which is the lowest point you would hang, to the bottom of the ravine is 54 feet,” Anderson said.
The cost of the Soaring Hawk project came in at around $200,000 and took three months to complete, according to Davis. The zip lines were built by Adventure Experiences, which also constructs challenge courses for Girl Scouts camps across the state.
“They said we’re the first Girl Scout camp in the country to do anything like this,” Anderson said.
Although Soaring Hawk Zip Line Tour officially opened to the public on March 15, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for the new project at Camp Crossed Arrows on April 15. Camp Crossed Arrows is located at 12997 Co Rd P1, northeast of Nickerson.
Reservations to ride the new zip-tour can be made by visiting the webpage: www.girlscoutsnebraska.org/en/camps/soaring-hawk-zip-line-tour.html.