‘Close to flying’: Thrill seekers soar above the Hill Country at Helotes zip line park

Zip lines give riders a view of the Scenic Loop, Helotes communities like no other

BEXAR COUNTY – Wind in your face, strapped into a harness, heart pounding, stomach churning as you hang on to a pulley attached to a cable, zipping along at over 30 mph above the Texas Hill Country. Welcome to the Helotes Hill Country Ziplines.

“It’s about as close to flying that you’re going to get without a plane, or, you know, parachute or anything like that,” said Rodney Madla, co-owner of Helotes Hill Country Ziplines.

The zip line is stationed on what was once a 12,000-acre ranch purchased generations ago.

“My great-great-grandfather, came over from, I believe, Poland, and then they purchased the property in smaller sections or smaller acreage,” Madla said.

Helotes Hill Country Ziplines is located in Helotes. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Over time, as parcels were handed down to younger generations, some family members sold theirs but Madla and his sister Michelle have turned their 68 acres into a playground for locals and visitors to enjoy by zipping over the countryside.

There are 10 zip lines: One is set aside for training and the other nine range in length from a couple of hundred feet to 1,000 feet long.

Those willing to harness up are bussed to the top of a hill about 300 hundred feet above sea level, where there are 360 degrees of breathtaking views.

On a clear day, you can see the Tower of the Americas rising from the horizon of downtown San Antonio.

Your first launch is off a 110-foot tower. Every stop and start is either a tower (not all 110 feet) or ground level. When it is time to go, you put the pulley on the cable, attach a couple of safety clips, push off from the platform and you are off. You can reach speeds from 37 mph to as fast as 42 mph.

It’s not only fun, but the brother-and-sister duo wanted to make the experience environmentally friendly.

“The zip line is kind of a low impact as far as, you know, the land is concerned. We’ve looked at UTVs, ATVs, but it’s ... kind of hard on the property. So zip lining, you know, once you have your infrastructure in, it’s pretty simple to maintain the land,” Madla said.

It is also an opportunity for visitors to also enjoy the wildlife. Sometimes, people can soar as high as the birds.

“We try to maintain our ag exemption, which is a wildlife exemption. There’s a lot of wildlife out here that is being displaced because of the development. And so, that being said, we try to at least maintain that,“ he said.

There is more to a visitor’s experience than just zipping. There is also an 18-hole championship Frisbee golf course.

“It also helps us, again, maintain and clear the, you know, evasive, brush and stuff like that,” he said.

You can also quench your thirst after a fun-filled day at the beer garden.

Helotes Hill Country Ziplines is located on Frank Madla Road off Highway 16, outside loop 1604.

Helotes Hill Country Ziplines is located in Helotes. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

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About the Authors

David Sears, a native San Antonian, has been at KSAT for more than 20 years.

Priscilla Carraman is Manager of Content and Coverage at KSAT. She moved into the role after seven years of producing. She was the producer of the "Know My Neighborhood" series — hyperlocal reporting on different neighborhoods in the area. Priscilla started at KSAT as a producer trainee in 2017 after graduating from UTSA.

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