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Welcome to Kerfoot Canopy Tours 

In February–when my husband and I were in Thailand–we wanted to go on a jungle canopy tour. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us, and even though I was extremely relieved, I thought, Shoot! There goes our chance for ziplining. Little did I know that Minnesota itself offers its own real live canopy tour. Two to be exact–Towering Pines Canopy Tours at the Gunflint Lodge up by the Boundary Waters and Kerfoot Canopy Tours in the Minnesota River Valley down Highway 169 near Henderson/Belle Plaine.

Lee Kerfoot, outdoor rec enthusiast and owner of Kerfoot Canopy Tours (and son of the Gunflint Lodge/Towering Pines owners) contacted Family Fun Twin Cities for a press tour, and the three of us jumped at the chance!  Maybe I should be more honest. Our husbands and Anne were excited for the opportunity. Joy was grateful that she was unable to participate due to her pregnancy, and I was scared to death! We set up our tour, and as we drove closer, I had to take one deep breath after another to calm my thumping heart.

Kerfoot Canopy Tours

10 miles away from the sight, I got a text from Joy explaining that they had car problems and couldn’t make it.  We were all disappointed with the the day’s turn of events.  But soon, I wasn’t sad anymore….

I was terrified.

Before I go any further, let me explain.  I am deathly afraid of heights, and just thinking about ziplining made my hands and feet sweat. While I knew this was going to be an incredible adventure, I also knew it was going to be one of the hardest things I would ever do.

(Anne here: Gianna’s heart palpitations were in fact making me a little envious! I was excited, but not nervous — a few extra butterflies in my stomach would have been welcome.)

Kerfoot Canopy ToursI also want to point out that I was terrified of the anticipation of what was going to happen. There is no reason to be scared. Everything is safe and tested multiple times each month. The sky guides (there are always two with each group) are very professional and calm. There is really no reason to be scared.

Unless you are afraid of heights. Then, there’s plenty to be afraid of.  Because you are going to be really high up in the air–like 150 feet or so with your feet dangling in the middle of space. (Anne again: Soaring over the gorge, in my opinion, is the best part. Make sure to keep your eyes open!)

Most importantly, I want you to know that  I still sweat bullets remembering my adventure in the Minnesota River Valley one Sunday in September, but I can’t wait to do it again!

Kerfoot Canopy ToursKerfoot Canopy Tours offers a 2 1/2 hour tour that’s a mile of zipline fun on 14 lines.  There is also a 170 ft long suspension bridge (which we learned from our guide Aaron that it’s the make or break point for many people–your heart is beating so hard that you feel like it’s going to leap out of your body!) that leads to a 50 ft tower that sends you out over the gorges.

Other features include two super fast rides. One zipline is a quarter of a mile long–that’s where your guides will teach you how to do the cannonball. Before all this craziness starts though, they take you through ground school to help you get the feel of the lines and how to use your handbrakes. And then before you know it, your adventure has started. (Anne’s bit: Starting out with a few easy rides is the perfect way to settle any nerves — and then the thrills amp up as you go!)

Cameras, phones, keys are not allowed on the tour for safety, but for $20 you can rent a Go Pro Camera and mount it on your helmet.  The guides are really good about making sure you get some still shots taken too in the most picturesque overlooks. Then, they upload everything onto a thumbdrive for you to keep.  Lee likes to say it’s the best $20 you will ever spend.

Tours take place in all weather except for lightening and high winds.  Dress for the weather and make sure to wear your closed toe and heel shoes!

Kerfoot Canopy ToursAnyone who is 10 years old or older and weighs between 70 and 250 pounds can go on this adventure. Our oldest children are 9 so we weren’t able to bring them with us. And honestly, this is pretty intense. I don’t know of many ten-year-olds who would be able to last for the whole 2 1/2 hours.  It’s a pretty rigorous workout with climbing all the stairs on the tower and holding onto your trolley and calming your pounding heart.

But I know there are adventurous kids out there who would be ready to do this. How perfect would this be to do with your teenager? Whether you just enjoy the thrill together or have a friendly competition of who lands the best at each landing, this would be a great bonding experience for your family. Husbands and wives, uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews, adventuresome grandparents with grandkids. This isn’t something you do everyday!

(Anne’s two cents: The scenery was lovely in September; I can only imagine how gorgeous the course will be once the leaves have turned. Act quick if you want the colors, though — Kerfoot’s busiest season is right around the corner.)

And yet, it’s not that far away. Just an hour south of the Twin Cities. It’s very easy to get to (unless, of course, your van breaks down).

Kerfoot Canopy ToursLocation: 30200 Scenic Byway, Henderson, MN 56044

Reservations:  Click Here to book online

Rates: $95-$119

Go Pro Camera Rental $30

Tip for Skyguides:  Anywhere between $5-$20

Original Article written by Gianna Kordatzky, 2014

Kerfoot Adventure Park

Lee Kerfoot, owner of Kerfoot Canopy Tour and Brainerd Zip Line Tours (aka Minnesota Zip Lines &  Adventures), likes to surprise us with invitations to do the next terrifying thing.  And I always surprise myself by saying yes.

Our first zipline experience was at Kerfoot.  While I had heart palpitations going into the experience, I came out ready to zip again.  My husband and I got another chance, only this time in Thailand.  And our Thailand experience was not pleasant.  I wanted to be back with my Minnesota guides and their kindness and patience.  Even my husband, who does not have a fear of heights, said the same thing.

High Adventure at Kerfoot Adventure Park

Kerfoot Canopy Tours has an Adventure Park unlike any.  Once again, FFTC was invited to preview this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and once again, we said yes. Lee invited us for another heart-stopping, death-defying experience. You may think I’m exaggerating–my children would definitely say I am exaggerating–but I would argue that I’m not.

We geared up with our harnesses and helmets and Y tails (bornax). Then, we were given an orientation and practiced our tweezles–a very specific system that locked our Y tails onto the safety cables.

After that we headed up to the Sieve (aka the entrance/exit to the park) and climbed 20 feet to the first level.  There are three levels–20 feet and the beginner’s course, 30 feet for the intermediate, and 40 feet for the advanced adventure-lover.  Plus, there is a Crow’s Nest a few feet above that!

I was terrified, but my children?  No problem.  They were crawling all over it like they didn’t have a care in the world.

Reasons why I love Kerfoot Adventure Park

  • Safety • Everyone’s safety is of first priority. Before we were allowed onto the platform, we had to learn how to attach and detach from the cables.  Our harnesses had to be properly adjusted.  At any point if you uncomfortable in your harness for whatever reason, one of the guides would come to you and make necessary adjustments.
    At one point, my 7 year old needed to have an extra length of the Y Tails added so that he could reach each element.  Instead of quickly adjusting him at the top of the first platform that had a railing, all the guides agreed that it would be a better option for him to be adjusted on the ground.
    Also there were always three guides.  Two on the equipment and one on the ground.  Aaron and I spoke about the idea of having even more!
  • Authority • I don’t mean the guides bossed us around.  I mean that while they were very comfortable on the elements and platforms, they respected the dangers.  Each guide was very calm and in control.
  • Encouraging and Kind • While they don’t want you to give up, they don’t just tell you what to do.  They make it their business to help you go past what you think your limit is but still have a good time.
    When Trevor walked me by my hand (quite literally) through the lowest level, he constantly was helping me to breathe, relax and not think about the higher levels.  And when we were all done, he said, “But how do you feel?  Like a winner?  Because you did GREAT!”
Zipline in Minnesota River Valley
Minnesota’s Largest Canopy Tour

Details you need to know about the Adventure Park

  • 60 elements including:
    • cargo nets
    • tightropes
    • catwalk
  • three stories of varying challenges
  • 2 hours of (heart-stopping) Fun!

Requirements to play on the park

  • be 7 years of age or older
  • be accompanied by an adult if they reach 5”0” while standing flat-footed
  • can participate alone if they reach 5’5” while standing flat-footed
  • weigh less than 275 pounds
  • sign a waiver
  • wear closed-toe shoes
  • not be pregnant



Original Article Written by Gianna, 2019

Ziplining: Thailand Versus Minnesota

Ever wanted to go ziplining through the jungle?  I am here to tell you don’t need to go to Asia or South America just to zipline. Try Ziplining Minnesota, instead. You will get the best experience of canopy tours in Minnesota — in the Minnesota River Valley at Kerfoot Canopy Tours.  Think I’m exaggerating?

My husband and I just returned from our second trip to Thailand where we decided to go ziplining. Not only did it confirm that I hate heights, but it also confirmed that our experience in Minnesota was 100 times more enjoyable. Let me tell you why.

When we were in Thailand last year, we wanted to zipline, but the time didn’t allow for it.  So we determined that we would for sure go this year.

In Chiang Mai, we looked through eight different packages and finally settled on Dragon Flight.

Why?  Because it had the most platforms and a very long zip (It turned out that their claim of a 800 meter zip was false advertising).

Honestly, it was the t-shirt that really sold it for us.

I was excited!  Since I already knew what ziplining was like,  this experience was going to be three times more fun with three times more platforms. Plus, it was flying through the jungle. Minnesota = No Jungle.

The day came for our flight, and after a puke-inducing ride through the mountains (they are inevitable with manual vehicles and winding roads), we were there.

We were harnessed up, given our water bottles and sent up the road in the back of a pick-up.  Then, we hiked up the mountains deeper into the jungle to our starting point.

After all the fliers had arrived, the guides gave us a rundown of what to do.

“You don’t do anything.  We do everything for you.  You?  Nothing.  Us?  Everything.”

So thanks to my training at Kerfoot Canopy Tours, I was able to guide our friends Shyan and Sara through the proper technique.  Little did I know, it was not going to matter.

5 Reasons I prefer Kerfoot

  1. Groups

    1. Kerfoot limits each group to 10 people per tour.  Each group is equipped with two guides and plenty of time to enjoy the experience.
    2. Dragon Flight only limits the number of participants by how many guides they have to send with the group.  Our group has 33 participates and 6 guides.  While the ratio was approximately the same, it made the experience drag a little.
  2. Lessons to Zippers

    1. Kerfoot gives you braking equipment and lessons to be in control of your experience.  The guides teach you hand signal responses, and your first zip can be done over and over until you feel comfortable with your form and with braking.
    2. Remember what the Dragon Flight guide said?  “You don’t do anything.  We do everything for you.  You?  Nothing.  Us?  Everything.” Newest Zipline in Chiang Mai
  3. Flying Technique

    1. At Kerfoot, the guides were in agreement about each flier’s technique.  Hold the trolley with both hands, apply pressure behind the trolley to brake, and keep your feet up.  Knowing exactly what to do was extremely helpful.
    2. At Dragon Flight, we were not given any hand gear so we could not brake.  We were also not given any lessons how to land.  But that is nothing compared to the guides’ conflicting instructions during the zips.  We were told to hold on to the cables on our harness or to throw our hands out, but to not touch the trolley.  However, after twisting in circles for the first three zips, I was told that if I hold the trolley, I won’t twist.  So I did.  When I arrived on the other side, I was reprimanded for holding the trolley.  So I didn’t hold the trolley for the next one and I spun in a circle again.  For the next zip, I was reassured that I could hold on the trolley.  When I landed, again I was firmly told not to do that.  Round and round this happened.
  4. Obstacles

    1. Kerfoot has 14 ziplines, some spiral staircases and a 170-foot suspension bridge.  You zip short, you zip high, you zip long, you zip fast and each zip is its own experience. You only have to tackle one obstacle that is not a zip line.  You also zip across a beautiful gorge three times (Maybe four.  No, I think it’s four times).
    2. Dragon Flight is a completely different canopy tour with multiple bridges to cross:  suspension bridges and logs and a high wire.  It was not fun.  You have to climb up and down different ladders and staircases.  But the worse experiences of all are the abseils.
      An abseil is supposed to be another word for repelling (like when you climb down a mountain), but that is not how Dragon Flight understood it.
      An abseil experience with them was being attached to a rope, jumping off a platform and falling until the guide catches you before you break your legs.  We had three of these abseils to do.  The last “adventure”  of the entire experience was a 50-foot drop to the jungle floor.

Zipline in Minnesota River Valley - Ziplining Minnesota
Minnesota’s Largest Canopy Tour

  • Guide

    1. Speaking of the guides, they really do make or break your experience.  At Kerfoot, we had the opportunity to get to know four guides.  Two guides got our trip started and part way into the tour, our assigned guides took over.  All four of them had great energy and were confident in their instruction and reassurance.  They didn’t talk down to us, and they made sure we were doing alright/having fun.  They spoke in an even tone and were very reassuring.
    2. The Dragon Flight guides thought you experience would be better if you were terrified.  They tried to scare us often.  “Watch out for the snakes!”  Or “Oh, NO!” after they pushed you off the platform.  Of the six guides, four of them were okay, one of them was horrible, and one of them I really liked (he introduced himself as Ice and called me Bob).

Our experience with Dragon Flight began as a fun adventure.  Being at the top of the the jungle was terrifying and beautiful, but the tour was much too long.  With 33 people to get through the course, we were literally clipped on to the line and pushed off the platform. And it still took us five hours.

When our ziplining experience was over in Thailand, I wanted to go home.  I didn’t want to eat anything, and I didn’t really want to talk about it.

Kerfoot, on the other hand, made the 2 hour experience so enjoyable that even though I was terrified the entire time, I wanted to come back and do it again.  Anne and I and our husbands couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we had had. Even Chris, my adventure-loving husband , prefers Kerfoot Canopy Tours over Dragon Flight.

All this to say, visit Asia. It’s beautiful and I love it. And if you are in Asia and you want to zipline, go for it!  But don’t assume you will get the ultimate zipline adventure through the jungles of Asia!  For that, you will find the best experience right here Ziplining Minnesota through the Minnesota River Valley at Kerfoot Canopy Tours!

Original Article Written by Gianna, 2015

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