Words and images by Sarah De Nicolais
As I placed my feet on the edge of security, our guide connected my harness to the 450-foot-long cable strategically stretched through the woods. From the platform I could see surrounding treetops and the clouds seemed only an arm’s-reach away. The sky was a pleasant blue and the cool wind gently brushed my face as I prepared for take off.
After a millisecond of hesitation, I leaped into the air, trusting my harness and the cable now above my head to catch me gracefully and give me the ride of my life. I felt as if I were flying through the trees as I rode the cable safely to the ground. Before I knew it, my feet were planted safely on the earth and the rest of the adrenaline junkies cheered for me as we shared a moment of pure bliss.
For adventure-lovers like myself, Cable Junction Zipline Adventures in Sanderson is an experience that can’t be missed. The aerial course includes seven zip-lining stations, four challenging climbing elements, three treetop bridges and enough excitement to leave you wanting more. The staff welcomes participants from 8 to 80 years old — whether you’re a thrill-seeker or are looking to rid yourself of fear. DeAnna Rewis McDuffie, general manager of Cable Junction, loves watching her customers’ reactions after they’ve completed the course.
“My favorite part about working at Cable Junction is the transformation of customers before and after and their increase in confidence levels,” McDuffie said. ”It’s a great opportunity to build confidence, overcome fears and bond with your friends, family and co-workers.”
The course begins with a climb to the top of the first platform followed by a zip to the next platform about 200 feet away. Afterwards, zip-liners are taken across a couple of challenging bridges to lead them to the next platform. According to the employees at Cable Junction, many participants find the bridges to be the more intimidating part of the aerial course.
At the end of the course is a 450-foot zip line that takes participants back down to the ground, but not before pumping them with a serious adrenaline rush. The highest platform and the longest zip line isn’t until the end, giving participants an exhilarating ride that concludes the experience with a bang.
“My favorite part of the course is the speed zip at the end of the course,” McDuffie said. “It’s always the guests’ favorite part too, because they can reach up to 30 mph. I really enjoy seeing people have fun and building relationships.”
The staff at Cable Junction exhibited that they take safety very seriously. They utilize full body harnesses with smart belays and the course is zipped with two cables at all times. Two highly trained guides host each group taken out on the course.
“The staff was excellent and the course had a variety of obstacles that always presented a new challenge,” Anthony Massey said, a Jacksonville local and guest of Cable Junction. “My favorite part of the course was the unique obstacles, although the staff and seven other participants made the experience very enjoyable.”
The owners’ inspiration for opening the park came from an experience they had in North Carolina on a family vacation. Their seven-year-old son said he could do anything after completing the course. After two years of planning and development, their very own zip-lining course opened on April 1st, 2015.
The park is located in the small, rural town of Sanderson halfway between Jacksonville and Lake City. Season rates for youth, ages 7 to 12 years old, are $49.95 each and adults, ages 13 years and older, are $54.95 each. Cable Junction also offers group rates for parties and business gatherings. Included in the price for the course is primitive camping in designated areas of Cable Junction’s property.
Whether you’re an experienced zip-liner who loves the thrill of zipping through tree, or you’ve never given it a try before, it’s an experience all should try at least once. Cable Junction is close to Jacksonville and affordable, but there are a few other places close to home that also offer an adrenaline rush.
Other Zip Lining Tours
Cable Junction Zipline Adventure Park
8010 Timber Trail, Sanderson, FL 32067
The Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tours
8045 NW Gainesville Rd, Ocala, FL 34475
Zoom Air Daytona Beach LLC
1000 Orange Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
999 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Osprey Challenge Course
1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224