Leaves of bright gold and deep red dance with their green counterparts on a chilly fall morning.
As the cool breeze blows, some flutter from their branches and float gently to the ground below.
“The fall colors out there are just immaculate,” Adam Downs marvels.
He’s about to show nine new people the fall colors like they’ve never seen them before: Gliding from steel cables some 200 feet in the air at speeds topping 40 miles an hour.
The manager and guide at Boone Creek Outdoors can’t imagine a more unique perspective for people to experience the beauty of Bluegrass autumn than flying between the trees on a canopy and zip line tour.
Boone Creek Outdoors offers what it calls a “living tour” built among the hardwood trees of the forest surrounding Boone Creek in the Kentucky palisades region. But the tour is about much more than just monkeying around.
“Our philosophy has always been this is not just a zip-line experience,” said Burgess Carey, owner of Boone Creek Outdoors. “The zip-line is fun and it’s thrilling the first two or three times you do it, but you can do that over an asphalt parking lot.
“The point of a canopy tour is to give perspective to an area you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see the same way.”
Boone Creek Outdoors marries the adrenaline junkie to the history buff to the nature lover all during one two-hour excursion that includes six zip-lines, three bridges, a spiral staircase, a floating staircase and a rappel.
“One of the reasons I’ve been so committed to this for so long is we have so many different dimensions to this property,” said Carey, who went through a five-year legal battle that rewrote the county’s zoning ordinance to address recreation and tourism-related businesses to launch his vision.
Through it all, Carey never felt alone or out on a limb.
“This is here because of a huge group effort,” he said of this property, which formerly was the site of a gas station, truck stop and toll house near Interstate 75 and the Kentucky River. “Immediate neighbors, people who have been supportive during the controversy. My wife and my kids. We all went through so much and we believed in it. … Really this was a community effort.”
Carey hopes the group project equals an experience that can appeal to anyone in any group at any time of the year.
If you don’t mind an a-corny joke or two from the guides, you can learn a little something about the geology of the area, which helped shape the bourbon and horse industries that are unique to the Bluegrass.
You might learn which trees are used to make baseball bats or age fine Kentucky bourbon. Catch your breath between zips nestled in between the changing leaves of a Chinquapin Oak, Downs’ favorite on the tour.
“There’s just so many different ways to get somebody involved in the nature out here,” said Downs, a certified guide. “We try to make sure we can cover all the bases.”
Boone Creek Outdoors offers canopy tours (long and short versions), guided hiking tours, fishing access to Boone Creek with partner Boone Creek Anglers Club as well as other specialty options.
There’s no wrong way to enjoy the space, although Downs argues one is preferable: “When you fly out over the gorge and you see all the different colors in the trees, there’s not much that can beat it.”
Boone Creek Outdoors
Where: 8291 Old Richmond Rd.
Who can go: Participants must be at least 4 feet tall and weigh between 70 and 270 pounds to take the canopy tour.
Open: Daily, with night zips occasionally. Reservations aren’t required, but are strongly recommended as tours are limited in size.