What: Snow Tubing and Ziplining
When: Tubing: Dec. – Early April (weather permitting) Ziplining: Year Round
Cost: Tubing: $25 weekdays, $30 weekends and holidays. Ziplining: $75 for 10 cables, $85 for 9 cables and the swing bridge
$5 parking fee (check the visitors bureaus for discount coupons or ask where you are staying)
Photos: For photos visit Field Trips with Sue on Facebook
For information on North Carolina skiing, see this post on Beech Mtn. Resort.
The Beech Mountain Visitors Center was a great warm up to snow tubing at Hawksnest, the largest snow tubing park on the East Coast and only about 30 minutes from Beech Mtn. This former ski resort offers 20 lanes of snow tubing plus a zip line course.
Snow tube lanes are from 400 to 1000 feet long and are separated into four different sections. The front two sections, including the longest run, have a magic carpet walkway to bring you back up the hill. The carpet is slow, so if you are physically able, or want a great workout, head to the back two sections. You’ll get in more runs by walking rather than waiting for the magic carpet conveyor belt. Staff are stationed at the top and bottom of each hill to keep things moving and help if needed.
Children must be able to touch the ground while inside the tube in order to ride alone (they need to put their feet down to stop themselves). My youngest is about 48 inches tall and had to ride with an adult. He didn’t care, but if you have really independent child, better warn them first.
Tubing sessions are 1 hour and 45 minutes. The timing is about right. Hard core tubers may want more time, but we were getting a bit tired when the bell rang. Make sure to get there early so you are ready to go at the beginning of the session – after an hour, you’ll likely still want to go more. Between each session the hills are groomed, so it’s a nice course no matter what time you go.
There are two zip lines at Hawksnest, The Hawk tour and the Eagle tour. We took the Hawk tour which is over 1.5 miles of cable riding. The first is a short zip to get you going, then they get progressively longer. The lines go over the snow tubers and have some great mountain views. Experienced guides are with you the entire way, making sure you are strapped in correctly and assisting those that are a bit light to get across the zips. You must be at least 5-years-old to zip, but unless you have an extremely adventurous 5-year-old, I’d wait a bit. Weight is what gets you across the zip line, so if children are too light, they won’t be able to make it all the way across. We went on a windy day and even my 13-year-old needed help to get across one of the lines. There are a total of 10 lines at Hawksnest. On Winter weekends and holidays, the tour only goes on four of the lines, so check before you go what is available.
The Hawksnest lodge has several different food options if you get hungry, however, we saw many folks bringing their own sandwiches and opting for a sweet treat afterwards. For adults who don’t want to tube, the top of the lodge has a bar with large windows to watch the fun.
According to the staff, the busiest season is between Christmas and New Years. Weekends of course are busier than weekdays. You can go online and order your tickets for snow tubing and/or make reservations for zip lining. During the high season, both tubing and zip lining can sell out, so be sure to purchase tickets or call the resort ahead of time to make sure they have spaces available. There are a limited number of tubers and zippers to ensure a good experience for those on the hill.
Although we were provided complimentary admissions for the purpose of reviewing (as is common in the travel industry), we only recommend places we would stay and products we would use.