Zip-lining -- that sightseeing activity that sends people hurtling through the air harnessed to a cable and propelled by gravity -- was popularized more than a decade ago in Costa Rica, a mountainous, forested country just right for the thrill ride. Soon vacationers to Minnesota's northland will be able to shoot across a series of zip lines, over pine trees and through skies where eagles fly. The storied Gunflint Lodge (, near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, plans to offer canopy tours beginning July 1.

Despite snow on the ground, signs of the project are already evident. Two weeks ago, a truck lumbered up the Gunflint Trail with an unusual load: giant poles that will hold some zip line platforms.

The "Towering Pines Canopy Tour" at Gunflint will be a 2 1/2-hour adventure guided by naturalists, according to Bruce Kerfoot, who owns Gunflint Lodge with his wife, Susan. Participants will glide along eight zip lines that cross the lodge's land; one launches off a cliff.

"This is compatible to the North Woods; it is a silent sport," Kerfoot said.

Two other zip lines operate in the state: Sand Creek Adventures, with three zip lines, in Jordan (www.sandcreekadventures. com) and Character Challenge Course, with one line, in Park Rapids (www.character Both places offer team-building activities as well as individual opportunities; both also have activities beyond the zip lines, such as ropes courses.

"Is there any better way to share experiences and nature?" asks Kerfoot of zip lining. For thrill-seekers, probably not.

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