SkyRider – Hunter Mountain, New York
If you enjoy high, long and fast zip lines, SkyRider is the experience for you. They take full advantage of the topography to provide one of the best pure zip line experiences in the East.
We stumbled upon SkyRider by accident and were happy to find that they had some spaces available that day. The website recommends reservations and I think that in the busier months they will definitely be needed. The night after our visit, I checked their website to gather a bit more info and found a generally well constructed site with a functional on-line reservation form. The staff members we interacted with were all helpful and friendly. They seemed really excited about SkyRider, but it was early in the season so their enthusiasm may wain a bit when the summer tourists hit. Only time will tell.
Hunter Mountain is built on a very steep, somewhat craggy mountain (for this part of the country anyway) so the chairlift ride to the top of the ski resort is scenic and a lot more fun than the average lift ride. After completing the obligatory “Zipline Pilot Training” safety talk we were ready to fly.
They don’t make any effort to sugar coat this experience so you get big thrills right out of the gate. The first zip line is a monster stretching over 3,000′ with a crazy maximum height of 600′. By designing the course to take advantage of a ravine that separates two sections of the ski resort, they managed to squeeze maximum airtime from the already impressive terrain they have available. It is brilliant! I have been to other zip line experiences where this one zip would be the main attraction, but SkyRider offers four more for your enjoyment.
The remaining zips are all long, fast and fun, but the first one was my favorite because of the instant exposure upon take-off. The course continues to zig-zag across the ravine as you work your way back down to the base. Other than a suspension bridge part way down, this course is 100% about the zip lines so don’t expect a lot of other clever diversions. They do a very good job of integrating the tour into the natural setting, which I appreciated very much. Unlike some canopy tours where you are responsible for speed control and braking, here you are simply cargo going along for the ride. However, the zips were so good that I didn’t mind a bit.
The tour price may seem a little steep at $119 but it was well worth it. I’m sure there are ways to find discounts but I didn’t have the time to look for them. It might be worth your while to check around town to see if anything is available. The first zip line could be intimidating to some people but trust me and take a leap of faith. It is definitely a thrill, but not scary in the least. The entire operation appears to be well run and the equipment feels very solid and secure. They note that refunds are not offered if you bail out on the tour, so it is a very expensive chairlift ride if you chicken out.
Hunter is about two hours north of New York City in the Catskill Mountains. It is conveniently located close to the New York State Thruway. There is pricey but nice looking lodging at the resort and a good selection of lodging and dining options in the town of Hunter.