Plano nature preserve is home to a new zip line park


The longest zip line crosses over Rowlett Creek in Oak Park Nature Preserve in Plano where I recently learned to love zip lining. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Deep in the jungles of Plano, Go Ape has created a zip line attraction that’s a whole barrel of fun.

The attraction is designed for people who’ve never zip lined before, but is strenuous enough to be fun for those who have.

Instructors are with you along the way. After you sign a waiver, they’ll strap the harness on you — as they offer a full refund with the warning this is a high-risk activity. The best advice is follow the instructions you’re given and when you have a question, shout down from the treetops and make sure you’re doing it right.

“Attach the green hook first?” I kept asking. Green goes on first and comes off last.

One of the best things about Go Ape, especially for a beginner, is that no one’s rushing you along. The full course takes two to four hours. We took a little less than three hours and that included resting between each of the five courses and drinking plenty of water in the heat.

(If you can, go during the week, when there are fewer people and even less rush.)

The setting is beautiful 800-acre Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. Once you’re in the trees, you’ll forget you’re in Plano and even take back some of those terrible things you’ve said about the city (OK, some of those terrible things I’ve said about Plano). The setting is truly spectacular.

Who knew Plano had trees?! Mature trees, tall trees with sturdy, thick trucks that could support zip lines and Tarzan swings.

The courses get progressively trickier and rise higher up in the trees as you move along.

creekYou walk from tree to tree along hanging planks, pads and hammocks attached to wires connecting the trees. Then, in front of you is nothing more than a wire. Imagine walking a high wire. But rather than a pole that an aerial artist would use to maintain balance, your harness is hooked to another wire and you can hang on to the wire as you inch across the one beneath your feet.

I got over my dislike — OK, fear — of heights pretty quickly. How? Well, I was just having that much fun.

It’s pretty damn scary the first time you step off a landing 20 or 30 feet above the ground. But just relax, ease down into the harness and swing in mid air on the Tarzan swing or zip line. The wire’s secure and the harness will hold. Just enjoy the ride across the creek from a treetop to a soft landing pad of shredded bark.

The view is awesome and the feeling is like — well, I was going to say like flying, but since I’ve never actually flown except in an airplane, I guess I don’t actually know that. But, yes, it’s like flying.

On one landing, an instructor clocked me coming in at 16 mph, faster than I average bike riding. On another, I came in at 17 mph. The cables are strung so that you reach a higher speed in the middle of the zip and slow as you approach landing.

On the first and last courses are Tarzan swings: Attach the cable and rather than zip across to the target area, step off and swing into a rope net. Bounce off the net once and then swing back into the net. Catch the net and climb up to the landing in the nearby tree to connect to the next zip line.

By the last zip line, taking that step off the landing, sinking into the harness, steering the line to face forward, enjoying the ride down and making a soft landing all felt completely natural. If I wasn’t so sore — I did mention that this is actually very strenuous, didn’t I — I would have been ready to go again.
Strenuous? Even if you work out, you’re probably not regularly using muscles to hold yourself up as you hang from a wire.

Tiring? Yup.

Exhilarating? Completely.

Go Ape is located at 5901 Los Rios Blvd., Plano. Take the Spring Creek Parkway exit of Central Expressway. Go east to Jupiter Road, north to Los Rios and east to Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve. Adults $58 and $38 for kids 10 to 15.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2016.