State loan adding zip to Red River Gorge

Tourists will have a chance to zip through the Red River Gorge thanks to a $250,000 loan from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.

The loan recipient, Kentucky Zipline Adventures, plans to open later this year, offering six ziplines ranging from a few hundred feet to more than 1,500 feet long. It will operate in Clay City eight months a year and is expected to employ 15 to 18 people.

In ziplining, an activity popular at adventure tourism spots and often seen in television obstacle courses, participants wear a harness that is attached by pulley to an inclined cable high above the ground and strung between platforms. Participants then travel, or "zip," between platforms, usually at tree-line level.

Kentucky Zipline Adventures' parent company, Zipline Adventure Tours, operates zip lines in New Hampshire and Jamaica.

"For us, one of the most critical components of an interactive, outdoor adventure such as this is the natural environment that surrounds each of our locations," said Randy Farwell, one of the owners.

The Daniel Boone National Forest and Red River Gorge are the perfect setting for a world-class zipline tree-canopy tour, he said.

Elaine Wilson, executive director of adventure tourism with the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said ziplining "will be an exciting way for adventure enthusiasts to discover and rediscover the gorge."

Canopy Tours Inc., a New Hampshire firm, will build the ziplines. The installation will meet standards developed by national organizations to ensure the safety of the participants, according to a news release. This includes annual inspections, training for guides and using the proper safety equipment.