Trail Map (PDF)
Chester Park Drive or Chester Parkway to Skyline Boulevard to begin at
the top of the trail. This 2.5 mile loop trail is somewhat steep and often
wet and is considered challenging. If you want to start at the base of
the hill begin at 14th Ave. E. and 4th Street. Station 7 is about one
block above 4th Street on the East side of the Creek.
is one of 23 major creek ravines in the City of Duluth. Spring fed, it
rises in the area of Rice Lake and Arrowhead Roads and after leaving Chester
Park under the 4th Street bridge it is diverted by culverts until it empties
into Lake Superior below the Rose Garden on London Road.
sculpted by glaciation and water erosion created the geographical features
of Chester Creek. The rock formations found in this general area are part
of the core of the continent, The Great or Canadian Shield. This volcanic
rock is more than one billion years old, some of the oldest on earth.
At the top of the Park is the historic shoreline of Glacial Lake Duluth.
The deposits of red clay found throughout the Park were lake bottom sediment,
eroded silts from younger volcanic and sedimentary rock washed down by
water flows from the retreating glaciers.
Small mammals and birds are plentiful in the Park and the varieties of
plant life are a mix of native species and garden plants brought in by
the Chester family when they homesteaded on the property, At the entrance
of the Trail the Caragana or Manchurian Pea is an example of a non native
species planted locally as hedges and as a small shade tree. It is also
popular with the birds. An early bloomer its yellow, sweet-pea shaped
flowers attract Humming Birds. The ripe pods shatter in August and fling
the bean shaped seeds far and wide for enterprising sparrows and other
ground feeders to feast on.
also boasts Nodding Trillium, Blue Bead Lily and Anemone to name a few
of the spring flowers found here.
The White Pines at this spot are a reminder of the importance of the lumber
industry in the history of Duluth. Although the original forest in and
around Duluth was heavily logged at turn of the 20th century the steep
creek banks prevented the removal of some mature trees so that there are
specimens here which are more than 100 years old.
Two plants of interest at this station are the Beaked Hazelnut and Tag
Alder. The Alder has dark brown bark speckled with white, bar shaped marks.
Its drooping brown catkins appear in late winter before the leaf buds
form and the pine cone shaped seed pods stay on the plant all winter.
The Hazelnut flowers in late April to May and forms its tasty nut in a
heavy shell and a papery, prickly husk resembling a parrot's beak. The
squirrels and chipmunks begin harvesting them in late August.
Dwarf Horsetail, a primitive plant found in several varieties along the
trail. Pale green, segmented and looking like a bottle brush it can stand
poor soil and shade.
Some years ago a bridge spanned the creek at this spot. Older residents
remember this swimmin' hole as a great place on a hot summer day. The
deep creek bed is the result of thousands of years of erosion by rushing
water. The large cracks and fissures in the rock were caused by contractions
of the lava as it cooled.
These rocks make up a layer cake of geological history. The lower layer
with its many cracks and weathering is of the oldest lava which cooled
quickly. Eons later another lava flow of the same basaltic type cooled
more slowly at the bottom and has less cracking and weathering.
At this station are two very useful if not impressive trees. The Box Elder,
sometimes called the Ash Leaved Maple, has white, straight grained wood
used in making craft boxes, and like the maple its sap can be collected
and boiled down for syrup. Box Elder seeds come in winged pairs which
attract birds and wild life in the fall. The Green Ash tree is often planted
as an ornamental and the wood is used in furniture because of its hardness
and straight grain. Its seeds are also an important food source for the
These rocks are abundantly covered in Lichens, a primitive plant on the
bottom rung of the soil building ladder. Lichens combine two plant types
in one, algae and fungus. The fungus absorbs and stores water which the
algae, through osmosis, converts into food for itself. The waste product
produced by the fungus is an acid which eats into the rock causing rough
spots whereby the plant anchors itself. Over time wind blown dust and
the rock minerals form a thin layer of soil in which mosses and then grasses
take root. As the soil layer builds up the first tree seeds sprout and
put roots down into the cracks in the rock which furthers the process
of breaking up the rock and creating a growing medium.
This clearing, dotted with granite boulders left behind by the retreating
glaciers, is a remnant of the Chester homestead. Brush and fast growing
tree species are taking over in natural plant succession. Eventually hardwoods,
which tolerate shade well as seedlings, will begin to dominate.
Thirty-three and one-half feet above the creek bed these Northern White
Cedar or Arbor Vitae (tree of Life) were vital to the native people and
the first explorers because the flat, fragrant leaves could be infused
into a sour tea which contained vitamin C, necessary to prevent or cure
scurvy. This made it valuable enough to be the first tree exported from
the new world to the old.
Tall Meadow Rue, Cow Parsnip, Thimble Berry and Mountain Maple along with
Field Horse Tail and Spotted Jewel Weed are a few of the native plants
in this part of the Park.
spot to catch your breath and enjoy the view before making the last push
to the top of the trail.