Whether you are a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie or just someone who can appreciate a good view, Hummingbird Zipline Course has something for everyone. I thought that my phobia of heights would get the best of me, but rest assured, as soon as I zipped down the first line, I was thankful I conquered my fears.
Shop Fair Trade
The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama is home to the Hummingbird Zipline Course. There is a storefront located on Main Street, but I found the actual zipline course behind the shops and restaurants, in the northeast corner of The Wharf area. Their retail collection is a hidden treasure. It is primarily a collection of fair trade merchandise, and the staff is very knowledgeable when relaying specifics about which items came from which countries.
Purchase with a Purpose
The goal of a fair trade movement is to ensure that consumers pay producers a fair price for their work in developing countries. Ultimately, this campaign focuses on reducing poverty, treating workers ethically, and promoting sustainability. Next time you are looking for beautifully hand-crafted gifts, consider browsing the products that Hummingbird Zipline Course offers in their storefront. In addition to the Fair Trade merchandise, you will also find Hummingbird Zipline apparel, all your beach necessities, and other goodies. You might want to pick up a t-shirt after you successfully complete the course!
Ready for Take-off
My tour began with a golf-cart lift to the start of the course. My guides, Tanner and Caleb, made my safety their top priority but also ensured that my first ziplining experience would be unforgettable. We climbed countless stairs to the top of the first tower, they hooked me to the line, and I had to let myself fall. I told myself, “Do not look down.” I bet you can guess what I did next–I looked down. They told me that once I let myself fully sit in the harness, my nerves would settle. Sure enough, when I lifted my feet off the platform, I did not have time to be nervous, I was on my way! The line was buzzing as I flew down it with the wind at my back. When I made it to the next tower, all I wanted to do was go again.
The course features ziplines that bring guests through a variety of terrains. Some lines zip you low to the ground of a federally-protected wetland, others will have you soaring over the paved roads of The Wharf, and there are even a couple that will take you high enough to see the Intercoastal Waterway and the Foley Beach Express above the trees! Make sure to observe your surroundings while you are on the course; you might just see the alligator that calls the wetlands her home or pass by some boaters enjoying the day on the water. There is no doubt about it, as I zipped from cord to cord, I had the best views of the city.
Say Yes to New Adventures
Each line you zip down brings you to the next tower, so the only way to experience all eight wires is to run the course from beginning to end. The individual lines vary in length, height, and speed you will reach. Be sure to listen carefully to the guides while you climb the stairs to the top of each tower as they tell you about the challenge you will be facing. Just remember, the best view comes with the hardest zipline.
Worth the Climb
When I climbed to the top of the final tower, the view was incredible. I had to take it in for a second as I caught my breath (did I mention the stairs?), and reflected on the amazing experience I had just taken. Tanner and Caleb decided I was ready to try something crazy as I zipped down the final line of the course. I turned around, stepped off the platform, and soared down backward. What an adventure this whole experience was! It is at the top of my list of the best things to do in the area.
One of Many
Once safely returned to my preferred elevation on the ground, I got to sit down with Chase Brown, Operations Manager, and get some more information on the course and the company. I wanted to know just how many zipliners come through the course annually. I assumed the number would be enormous, and he even said he could not pin-point it exactly, so he gave me a rough estimate. He said thousands every year, but over the lifetime of the company, roughly in the ballpark of 50,000 people have zipped through here.
Something for Everyone
As a local to the area, I have wanted to complete this course for a while now. I asked Chase if they primarily serve travelers or if they get a bit of business from locals as well. He responded, “Both, but significantly more vacationers than locals. We do have repeat customers who are locals, and we hope to continue to grow that side of our customer base.” My advice to you: whether you are an Orange Beach local or vacationing in the area, Hummingbird Zipline Course needs to be on your to-do list.
Key to Success
The Wharf is a shopping and entertainment district full of chic boutiques and fine dining, so I felt like a zipline course felt out of place. I knew there was a method behind the madness, so I asked Chase what went into the selection of the location and why The Wharf worked well for them. He said they like the area because of the diversification–there is something for everyone at The Wharf. While some people in a family or group are ziplining, others can be shopping, eating, or even gaming at the arcade. Plus, The Wharf is a central location. Chase says, “Our location makes for great views of the coast, the sunset over the Foley Beach Express Bridge, the Perdido Pass Bridge, and Canal Road.”
The Fine Print
Finally, I wanted to know the details of the course I just completed. Good thing I asked about this after my trip, or I may have chickened out. According to Chase, the total length of the course is 6,000 feet long, with the longest individual line reaching 1,700 feet. From start to finish, the course duration is two hours! Riders will reach a maximum speed of 40 mph as they are cruising through the trees. The wind speed and the size of the rider has an impact on their speed, so if you go on a windy day as I did, be ready to reach maximum speed! The tallest tower extends 120 feet into the air. Do yourself a favor–do not look down.
A huge thank you to Chase, the Operations Manager, Karen, the Location Manager, my tour guides Tanner & Caleb, and the rest of the staff at Hummingbird Zipline Course. I can see why this is a top attraction in Orange Beach! Next time you are looking for some family fun, be sure to hop in a harness and always take the scenic route. I’ll see you on the course!