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Make: Projects

Backyard Zipline

Want to create a backyard zipline, don't know where to start? I was in the same situation recently and figured out how to do it with just a little bit of research. This project can be accomplished in just one weekend.

  • By
  • Category: Fun & Games
  • Time Required: 8 hours or 1 weekend
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Backyard Zipline

This will give you all the information needed to plan, purchase and build a backyard zipline (and launch pad) without any specialized parts. I purchased everything at the local hardware stores. I did it 100% all by myself, and so can you.


Step #1:

  • Pick out the trees you are going to use. I had a 100ft span to work with. I think for the effort that goes into this, it's probably the minimum length.
  • Purchase your parts, and then dry fit everything.
  • decide how high you want to land at the end of the run
  • decide how long you want the rope which will hand down from the trolley

Step #2:

  • Now that you have everything measured, lets start building!
  • Starting with the tree on the high side, loop the cable around the tree and tighten the three cable ties. You place the first one as tight as you can, then the rest are placed closer to the tree, this will tighten the loop a little more each time.
  • You can place a garden hose around the tree, or place some blocks to lessen the strain on the tree if you wish.
  • TIP: if you tap a couple of nails in the tree it will hold the cable in the right place until there is tension to hold it in place.
  • Success! You have one end of the zip line complete.

Step #3:

  • On the low end of the line, tap a couple of nails into the tree to hold the chain at the right height.
  • Wrap the chain around the tree and connect the ends together with a strong D ring.

Step #4:


Open the turnbuckle as far as it can be. Then attach one end to the D ring connected to the chain.

Step #5:

  • At this step, I placed another D ring to the other end of the turnbuckle. You can leave it out if you want.
  • It's important that before you begin the next step, that you have a few things in place and ready. make sure you have your come-along ready and that you understand how it works.
  • Extend the cable in the come-along almost as far as it will go, and find a tree to connect it to. Ideally it will cross across the path of the zip line.
  • I used a tree strap and a large shackle to connect it to the come along

Step #6:

  • Now that your come along is ready, place a thimble on the D ring connected to the turnbuckle and then thread the cable through it
  • Now that you have the cable threaded through the D ring and on the thimble, bring it back to ground level and figure out how much cable you have available and then put a thimble and cable ties at the point where you can hook up the come along.
  • This step is difficult to explain. Ideally you will only make this long enough to start adding tension to the line.

Step #7:


Tighten the cable with the come-along

Step #8:


Add the cable ties to the cable and tighten.

Step #9:

  • Once the cable ties are tight, you can remove tension from the come-along.
  • Now you can start to tighten the turnbuckle.
  • Please exercise caution whenever you are tightening the cable.
  • Don't try and tighten the turnbuckle all the way at this time. you will come back and re-tighten everything at a later step.

Step #10:

  • Assemble the trolley:
  • Using Grade 8 bolts! don't use cheap bolts, remember, your kids are going to be riding on this.
  • Take the T braces and connect them to the pulleys and the spacer. Place the D ring on the spacer.
  • I placed the bracket stack in a large vise to form a nice bend around the pulley and spacer, but this is optional.
  • Tie an anchor knot to the D ring using the rope that will be suspended from the trolley

Step #11:

  • Assemble the brake block
  • cut two 2x4's to approximately 8 inches in length each.
  • Use a table saw to cut a notch lengthwise in the block.
  • drill 5 holes for the bolts and the eye-hook.
  • cut the wire support from the bicycle tire
  • dry fit the brake block together. Make sure that it's easy to assembly because you will be putting it together at the top of a ladder

Step #12:


Tie your chain around the brake tree. Attach it together with a D ring


The list seems long, but it's not really to difficult to put together. I pulled all the parts together one weekend, and then the following weekend, I put it up.