By WCCO-TV Staff

HENDERSON, Minn. (WCCO) — Soon enough the leaves will start changing across the state. And along the Minnesota River Valley, there’s a pretty cool way to see the yellows, reds and oranges.

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen takes us to Kerfoot Canopy Tour for a scenic thrill 175 feet in the air.

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There’s a gravel road in Sibley County that zigs and zags you to the top of a hill. And from there, it’s all about zipping your way back down.

“It was crazy. Some of them you look down and you were like, ‘aaaaahhhhhhh!'” said Eli Johnson.

“I was pretty nervous the first time. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into,” said Eli’s mother, Mandy Johnson.

What the Johnson family got themselves into was 14 different zips totaling more than a mile. The first leg of Kerfoot Canopy Tour starts out slow and gradual. But eventually you cross a bridge, and as course manager Aaron Carlson puts it, that’s where the money is.

“You go up this 50 foot tower. You go across a few ravines. You end up going about 170 feet in the air,” said Carlson. And at speeds up to 40 miles an hour.

“You get up above them and you are looking down on the trees and all of that. Zipping on down the line is a lot of fun,” said Jason Johnson.

Kerfoot has been around since 2013. They are one of the few zip lines that offers canopy tours in the winter. In fact, the colder it is, the faster you go.

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“There is physics involved. It’s a little more intense. You’ve got the cold. You’ve got the speed. It’s awesome,” said Carlson.

But make no mistake, the aerial runway is fast no matter what time of year it is.

“When you come down, you see the ridge and it’s up and down. It looks like the back of a dragon with spikes up,” said Carlson while pointing at one zip line called the Dragon’s Back.

“To enjoy the cool breeze out there when you are up high in the towers. And to be able to see so much of Minnesota from one space. It’s great,” said Mandy Johnson.

There’s no bad view from up top, but that’s just a bonus. Visitors might arrive feeling apprehensive and nervous. They leave feeling accomplished and renewed.

“Smiles, relief, joy — just a little bit of everything. Our biggest thing is, I did this,” said Carlson. “It’s just mind-blowing. Absolutely mind-blowing.”

Kerfoot also has a ropes course with 60 obstacles and two free falls.

The DNR has a fall color map that offers day to day updates on when leaves are peaking and where, and you can always see current conditions on WCCO.com’s weather page.

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