Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures guide Mike grabbed my son by the fistful of climbing harness attached to his chest and said, “Okay, buddy, are you ready to finish this?” AK Kid gingerly stepped into space, trusting both the rope and Mike, and slowly descended 20 feet to the forest floor below. I peered over the edge, hoping that by now any residual nervousness had been replaced by at least a sense of accomplishment. What I heard was nothing less than sheer pre-teen glee.
“This is the BEST EVER.” <insert fist bumps, leaps of joy, and a wide-open grin>
We had waited a long time for this moment, he and I. Accompanying mom on a tour for bigger kids has long been on my son’s radar, when finally, FINALLY, things like bear-viewing, ATV-riding, and now, ziplining, filled his Alaska attraction lineup. Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures had invited us out (along with AK Kid’s buddy) to inspect Seward’s newest soft-adventure attraction. While the 80-acre parcel of zips, suspension bridges, rappels, and whoop-de-dos were not all at our disposal (I’ll explain why, in a minute), we found a business attentive to our needs and conscious of the fine line between big, and big-enough.
About the experience
Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures is bound by the scope of ziplines, distances, and heights offered to guests, and as such, AK Kid met one, but not both criteria for the full zip experience; age 10 and up, AND a weight of 80 pounds. Kids must be heavy enough to send the “zipper” down the line and then, if they get stopped for any reason (rain, slow cable, etc), must be able to pull themselves, in harness, backwards, the remaining length of the zipline to the next platform. Multiply this requirement by at least eight zips, three suspension bridges, and two rappels, and it’s a long, physically-challenging day.
Sadly for AK Kid, his lightweight-but-tall 10-year-old body just didn’t perform on the Adventure Center scales in downtown Seward, the meeting place for all tours. Nor, it turns out, did his his friend’s. Two tween boys, a rainy Seward morning, and towering zipline platform photos mocking their every glance?
No way. Thanks to the graciousness of Stoney Creek management, we found a way to get a taste of flying, and an excellent primer on the whole concept of zipping.
Stoney Creek Tours
The average Stoney Creek experience is three hours; guests meet at the Seward Small Boat Harbor Adventure Center for a weight check, sign-in, and then van ride six miles out of town to the actual property. From the cozy yurt suspended in its own set of trees, guests are allowed to add or subtract layers, unpack cameras, and grab a drink before heading to what’s affectionately called “Ground School.”
In a tent already laid out with harnesses, helmets, clips, and gloves, we were securely trussed in our respective gear, and informed that we could, in fact, participate in Ground School, and if the boys proved their mettle for things like stopping, pulling, and following directions, they would be allowed to try out a suspension bridge or two, one zip, and the final rappel, so I could write a story that involved real human children zipping.
Participants are driven up an old logging road via a noisy, bumpy truck outfitted with seats in the bed, and deposited at the starting point – a 60-foot canopy walkway leading to a platform sporting spectacular valley and glacier views. From there, guests and their guides (always two) sail from line to line in what can be called nothing other than flying.
Cables sound their signature metallic “zzzzzzzzzippppp” as one by one, guests make their way from platform to platform, initially engaging in nervous conversation but ultimately hooting and hollering as the zips become longer, higher, and more thrilling.
Even in the rain, we were dryish, as the forested canopy protected us from much of the Seward drizzle that drenched shrubs, below. Zips continue even in downpours, I found out, and participants should be aware that layers will be critical to enjoyment of this experience.
Our party of two anxious boys and one journalist mother clipped in to cables above the suspension bridges, and shakily walked along the moving, breathing surface while observing the sights and sounds around us. Eagles chattered, fat rain drops spattered on leaves below the bridge, and a small creek babbled through the mossy, green forest floor. One of the best parts about canopy tours is the opportunity to immerse oneself in the forest’s ecosystem, and every moment spent hugging a tree trunk 20 feet in the air, or touching the spongy mosses growing overhead, was a treasure of environmental bliss.
When it came time to actually zip the last line, our wooden platform fairly shook with excitement as the boys followed their instructions to the letter and repeated their steps for stopping and moving along the cable. Clipped in, pushed off, grins firmly in place, they left the platform, each on his own, on a first flight toward another era of outdoor adventure.
Stoney Creek, you got us there.
What to know
- Stoney Creek does not typically offer special opportunities like the one described in our experience, BUT – if enough of us make noise, perhaps they might be inspired to try this, again? Email the company HERE, and provide some feedback.
- Be prepared for waiting, lots and lots of waiting, particularly if many groups are zipping. Each person has his or her own turn on the line, and things can get backed up, so practice patience.
- Dress appropriately. Guests must wear closed-toed shoes, and long pants/shirts are highly recommended. I’d add an extra waterproof layer on rainy days, because, well, it’s Seward. We wore rubber boots but hiking shoes may work better for this experience.
- Bring snacks for before and after the trip, if necessary. My guys were starving by the end of the afternoon, and it’s a fair ride back to town and your vehicle. Water is provided after the final rappel.
- Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures is the sister company to Denali Zipline Tours in Talkeetna, featuring the same rules and regs. But if you’d like to hit up another, equally-amazing zip experience, you’ll get 20% off your visit after the Seward experience. Nice.
Learn more about Stoney Creek HERE, or call 907-224-3662.