By LUKE CREASY
GENOA, W.Va. - If you've ever wanted to fly through the vast forests of the Allegheny Mountains, Rustic Ravines now has you covered with the opening of its new attraction, The Big Zipper.
The half-mile-long zip line, which opened to the public Friday, hangs between 300 and 400 feet above the ground at its highest point, reaching speeds up to 65 mph.
Joe Bofo, owner of Rustic Ravines, said surveying of the property began a little over two years ago and construction and completion of the launch and landing platform were delayed several times due to weather-related issues. The company broke ground on the zip line in December 2017 and had originally hoped to be open by the beginning of the summer season.
"It took longer to build a zip line than I had thought it might, but we did it and we're ready to roll with it," Bofo said.
"After the surveying was done, we had a couple pretty active winter and two rainy springs in between when we started and now, so that held things up."
Oval Construction Management, based in Charleston, was contracted to construct the launch tower and landing pad, as well as anchor the lines. Adventure Solutions, a Maryland-based company specializing in zip line engineering and installation, tested the line and conducted training for the guides.
Chad Hunt and his sister Karrie Jenkins, from Delbarton, West Virginia, were the first two customers to take the leap on opening day.
Hunt, a first-time zip liner, admitted he was a little tense at first, but in the end had no regrets about taking the ride, even going back for a second trip down the line.
"I got to enjoy it a little more the second time around. You have to take the time to appreciate the view because it's amazing. You can see forever," Hunt said. "This is probably the funnest thing I've done in a long time, honestly."
Bofo said he's considering this weekend to be a soft opening for The Big Zipper, with a larger grand opening to be held in the near future, but he said he's hoping to see more people come out and enjoy what is supposed to be a beautiful weekend in the area.
According to information on Rustic Ravines' Facebook page, zip liners must be at least 12 years old and weigh between 80 and 250 pounds. Prices start at $39 for "One Big Zip," $59 for two rides, $79 for three rides, or an all-day pass for unlimited rides for $99.
Rustic Ravines is a mountain getaway in Genoa, Wayne County, offering a variety of entertainment and outdoor activities including ATV riding, zip lining and cabin rentals.
For more information, call 304-385-1085.