- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2011

After gliding through the treetops on a cable at a park in the Adirondacks, Holly Swanson

wondered if she could replicate the fun in her parents’ backyard.

Turns out it was easy, she said. After a little online research, she installed a 250-foot zip line between two trees on their property in Brunswick, Maine.

“You can drop into the pond, which is a lot of fun,” said Miss Swanson, who lives in Albany, N.Y.

The popularity of zip lines or canopy tours at vacation spots in the United States and overseas has created a growing market for at-home versions, said Aaron Sleadd, sales and marketing manager for Sleadd Adventures in Grants Pass, Ore.

“We hear from a lot of people who go on vacation and say, ‘Hey I would like to have one of these in my backyard,’ ” said Mr. Sleadd, who sells zip-line kits and safety equipment at Ziplinegear.com. Prices start at $150, he said.

Zip-line riders strap themselves into harnesses and let gravity and a pulley slide them from one end of the line to the other.

A variety of companies sell zip-line kits and the equipment to install them. Installation requires tools to anchor the line and adjust the tension. The key is getting the cable tight. Mr. Sleadd’s company sells the tools and refunds customers’ money if they return them in good condition.

Backyard enthusiasts usually stretch the steel cable between trees, Mr. Sleadd said. The length of the line determines the height at the start. Mr. Sleadd’s company sells a lot of 150- and 200-foot lines, which should be installed at least 15 feet above the ground.

Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s home expert, said he installed a zip line at his home in less than two hours. “It’s so simple,” he said. “It’s something that’s fun and unique.”

Before adding a zip line, however, homeowners might want to consult with their insurance agent, recommended Jim Whittle, assistant general counsel for the American Insurance Association, headquartered in the District. Adding a zip line may change “the character of the property and the risks associated” with it, he said.

When the Danielson family decided to build a zip line on their property outside of Duluth, Minn., they thought big - and high. Darren Danielson, an experienced tree trimmer, worked with his 13-year-old son, Nels, and family friend Roger Mattson to install a 400-foot line. The starting point is about 60 feet high and is anchored in a large white pine tree.

“The first 200 feet goes over treetops,” Mr. Danielson said. “The last 200 goes down in the woods.”

Nels, who had a zip-line birthday party last year, called the experience “amazing.”

“It gets going really fast,” he said. “There’s always a lot of screaming.”

Riders zoom down the line at about 25 mph, his father added.

“It’s pretty exhilarating and fun - yet safe,” Mr. Danielson said.

A recreational tree climber, Mr. Danielson incorporated some of the safety gear he already owned into the zip line. In addition to the $500 kit, he also bought some helmets and other equipment designed to keep riders from falling off the line. He estimates he spent “less than $1,000” on the setup.



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