Soaring through Kerfoot Canopy Tours

Kerfoot Canopy Tour offers a thrilling bird’s-eye view of the Minnesota River Valley.
Our team listens carefully during “Ground School”

Some people dream of flying above trees, and those people will undoubtedly love Kerfoot Canopy Tour.

Some people dread the thought of climbing a ladder, but I’d argue that they still might love Kerfoot Canopy Tour.

When it comes to heights, I don’t do fight or flight, I just freeze, and I didn’t want to be that girl—the whiny, panicky one who ruins everyone else’s fun—when Lee Kerfoot, of Victoria, owner of Kerfoot Canopy Tour in Henderson, invited a group of us from the magazine to experience the zipline course.


Crossing a 170-foot-long suspension bridge is almost as thrilling as soaring on
the ziplines

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one in our group that was a little intimidated by the idea of dangling from a cable while gliding more than 150 feet above the ground. “It occurred to me that perhaps this is more extreme than a mother of two young girls should be doing,” says Laura Haraldson, editor of our sister publication Plymouth Magazine. “It is not! I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my kids with when they’re tall/old enough.”

Luckily, none of us had to worry. As the five of us gathered behind the cabin that serves as the canopy tour’s office, two guides helped us into our gear, which included a helmet, a harness and a leather glove (used for slowing down on the zipline). GoPro Cameras that attached to the helmet were also available to those who wanted pictures or video of the experience.

Our guides, Colin Begley and Chad Skare, were friendly and funny while still maintaining the air of authority that you’d like the person hooking you up to a cable and sending you over treetops to possess. After all, they did go through an intense four-day training class and had to pass a test before they got this gig. Kerfoot takes the safety of the course seriously and says that the course meets or exceeds standards set forth by the Association for Challenge Course Technology.

We hopped into ATVs, and drove to the start of the course, which is referred to as Ground School. It’s here that the guides go over the safety and basics of zip lining. The first few zip lines are only a few feet off the ground, allowing those new to zip lining the chance to practice braking by placing the gloved hand on the cable and slowly pulling down. “The instructors are very knowledgeable and seem to be good at judging when someone is ready or not to actually go down a few lines,” says photographer Amanda Gahler, who lugged about 30 pounds of camera equipment through the course. “The first time I was a bit worried we would just get out to the trail and go zipping down this long line in the trees, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop. This Ground School was good at giving us a chance to practice and alleviate fears.”

After “graduating” from Ground School, we continued on the course, which features 13 zip lines, of varying heights and lengths, and takes about 3 hours to complete. There are a few short walks between zip lines and a few spiral staircases to climb. Highlights of the course include a 170-foot long suspension bridge and a 50-foot tower that sits next to a deep ravine, providing epic views. (The guides thought this would be a particularly romantic spot for a marriage proposal.)

ziplining

“Each zip line on the course was a little different, which made each facet of the day new and exciting,” says Alex Gaterud, our former web editor. “The longest runs certainly allowed the greatest chance to relax and look around before being called back to earth by the need to brake. That said, some of the shorter ones were great, too. The third-to-last run, where you shoot out of the trees over the parking lot, was the most thrilling individual moment of the day. The central tower’s views in all directions were unparalleled. I felt a greater appreciation for the scenery of the Minnesota River Valley as a result of just spending a few minutes chatting at the top of the tower.”

There were definitely plenty of moments where a fear of heights could become overpowering, but the guides assured us (okay, me) that it’s possible to leave the course at any time. I didn’t need to take them up on it, though. In the end, the beauty of the course won me over, and the joy of watching flocks of birds from above and soaring over and through a canopy of trees proved to be stronger than my fear.

“The highlight of the day was seeing each person in my group react to each zip,” says Jacqueline Hagyard, Southwest Metro Magazine’s art director. “Some of us were pushing ourselves just being on this adventure and others had more experience, but after each zip we all had smiles from ear to ear.”

Earth-bound Adventure

If you’re in the area, you might as well make an entire day trip with visits to other local attractions.

The Henderson RoadHaus (510 Main St., Henderson) is a cozy family-style restaurant by day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it’s also the place to catch live music on weekend evenings.

Commune with nature at the Ney Nature Center (28003 Nature Center Lane, Henderson), a 446-acre park and learning center, featuring hiking, bird watching and cross-country skiing.

If you’re cruising down Highway 169 near Jordan we dare you to miss the blaze yellow building, touting Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, also known as Jim’s Apple Farm (20430 Johnson Memorial Dr., Jordan). This seasonal shop does have apples, but it’s the crazy collection of candy and the wide variety of soda pop that will call your name.

In nearby Belle Plaine, pretty much everyone knows about the iconic Emma Krumbee’s (351 Enterprise Drive E., Belle Plaine), but our photographer Amanda Gahler swears by Johan’s Sports Bar (117 N. Meridian St., Belle Plaine). “You can’t go wrong with the bacon cheeseburger,” Gahler says. “Plus the wood grained interior is cozy.”

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Kerfoot Canopy Tour

30200 Scenic Byway Road, Henderson
952.873.3901; kerfootcanopytour.com

Tours cost $94/ per person on Mondays through Thursdays and $99 per person on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Go Pro Camera rental is $30 per person.