(Above photo of our tour group, courtesy of Brainerd Zip Line Tour)
In the spirit of experiencing more fun in our own backyard, our daughter and I decided to try out Brainerd Zip Line Tour, a seven-line tour with a 50′ drop to put an exclamation point on your day. Last summer we had enjoyed Kerfoot Canopy Tour, a really fun zip line adventure near Henderson, Minnesota. Brainerd Zip Line Tour is a sister company of Kerfoot, as they share the same owner. Much like its sister, Brainerd Zip Line tour provided both adventure and spectacular treetop views of the surrounding area!
The Brainerd lakes area is a beautiful part of Minnesota about 2.5 hours northwest of the Twin Cities. With Gull Lake as its centerpiece, the area is teeming with lovely resorts and outdoor activities. The day we went to Brainerd Zip Line Tour we had been hoping to make it a full day of adventures in the area, including the turtle races held every Wednesday in downtown Nisswa, but unfortunately we had to cut our day short at the last minute. I definitely hope we can get back to the area as a family soon!
One of our family’s travel bucket list goals is to ride as many zip lines as possible during our journeys, and this one was really fun. For more details about my zip line rating system, please see this page.
Thanks to Brainerd Zip Line Tour for complimentary admission for our family, as well as the complimentary photos from our adventure! All opinions are our own.
Date of Our Experience:
We visited Brainerd Zip Line Tour in July 2019. It was a gorgeous morning! Since the course is in a wooded area, the shade felt great.
Cost, Location and Details:
All current information about Brainerd Zip Line Tour zip lines can be found at Brainerd Zip Line Tour. Their prices and total time of experience (about 2.5 hours) are in line with other zip lines we have done. As with most places like this, weekdays are quite a bit less expensive. If you can make it on a weekday, I would definitely recommend that.
Brainerd Zip Line Tour is located on Mount Ski Gull near Nisswa. Therefore, it is not open during the winter, as they actually have to take down the lines during the ski season. If you are hard core and want to zip line during a Minnesota winter, Kerfoot Canopy Tour is open year-round.
Note: when we drove in from the south, the entrance to Brainerd Zip Line was not well marked. If you didn’t know it was at the same location as Mount Ski Gull you might miss it. Approaching from the north we did see an obvious sign for the zip lines. Here is what the entrance looks like when coming from the south.
Another note: Their staff doesn’t generally allow cell phones, cameras, or really anything to be carried in your pockets for the tour. They do allow helmet-mounted GoPro-type camera and offer them for rent as well. The tour leaders also took photos during our time there. Given that we were wearing gloves (more on that below), I can see where people might be prone to fumbling with their gear and dropping them. (I was allowed to bring my cell phone at my own risk because I explained that I was writing a blog post.)
Also know that there is a water station along the way, which is not terribly common for zip line courses to supply in our experience but was very much appreciated.
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Type of Adventure:
Brainerd Zip Line Tour offers seven zip lines, which is a pretty average number of lines in our experience. The longest was 1,000′. The longer lines had us riding well above the trees, providing beautiful views of the forest and surrounding lakes, along with the rush of being so high. There was also a fun suspension bridge between lines we had to traverse at one point.
This tour was fully guided, so we had two staff along the whole time. I was very impressed with our guides. My daughter and I toured as part of a total group of nine people. The staff provided a very thorough orientation on a practice line and even had us practice what to do if someone slows down before they get to the end of the line. This is really important, especially for riders like my daughter who are light and therefore more prone to slowing down too soon on the line.
The course concludes with the option to step off a ledge and free fall (with a harness and line, of course) 50′ to the ground and into a large cushion. I do have to say that stepping off of that edge was a rush! All of us in our group opted to do it, and none of us was disappointed.
This was our second time riding a zip line with hand braking, which meant that we wore gloves with an extra leather piece over the glove on your dominant hand (see below). To stop, the guide on the far side of the line would signal when you should move the hand with the leather piece onto the line itself and press down to slow yourself. There was a rope on the end of the line that staff could use to stop us as a backup if needed.
Here are some pictures and video from our adventure.
Our daughter doing The Drop
This would be a good course for both new and experienced zip liners. I would say that, if anyone in your party is really nervous about going, hand braking might make take some time to get used to doing before they realize it really will stop you. People with anxiety of heights might also worry, as the platforms you stand on were at times several stories off the ground. Many of the platforms didn’t have railings on the side, although your harnesses are always hooked on to a line.
If you have gone zip lining before, you will find this course has enough scenic views and challenges to make it truly fun.
We really enjoyed this highly professional, scenic experience. For us as experienced zip liners, the ability to hand brake gave us more of a feeling of being active in the zip line experience (versus just being hooked on and off and stopped by staff). We would definitely recommend this fun experience!
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