HIKING The Hills of Duluth
From the cascading waterfalls of Congdon Park to the dunes of Park Point and the scenic banks of the St. Louis River on the western waterfront Duluth's natural beauty is available to anyone who wants to take a walk on one of our ten nature trails. No matter which part of Duluth you live in or whether your interest is birding, rock climbing or just getting out for some fresh air and exercise there is a trail to adventure within minutes of your back door.
This brief guide will help you choose a trail according to your ability, the distance you want to hike or the time you have available. More detailed guides to individual trails are available from the Parks and Recreation office at 12 East 4th Street.
At the eastern end of the city the Lester River Trail has been a favorite family recreation area since the turn of the last century. The trail, which winds along Amity Creek and the Lester River crosses many foot bridges and is one of our shortest and easiest walking trails. The trail head is on the west side of Lester River Road about one block up from the intersection with Superior Street and the trail runs .86 miles and takes about one hour to hike.
Following the winding course of Tischer Creek the Congdon Park Trail is all about water. Falls, rapids, riffles and pools dropping through shady glens from Vermillion Road down the hillside to Superior Street are the features of this well worn, 1.5 mile trail, which is an easy hike. The trail head is at 32nd Ave East and Superior Street and the hike takes about 1 and ½ hours.
Winding along Chester Creek the Chester Park Trail is the place to look for several kinds of rare wild flowers and plants. This 2.0 mile trail is challenging and can take over 2 hours to hike. The trail is two headed with access at 19th Ave East and Kent Road at Chester Park or at the upper end at Chester Parkway and Skyline Boulevard.
Hartley Park is 660 acres of forested hills and wetlands with a variety of scenic year round use recreational trails. These trails pass through beautiful forests with breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River Valley. Hartley Trails are designated for hiking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and/or dog walking.
Established in 1889 Lincoln Park is one of the city's oldest and most popular parks. It has long been a favorite spot for picnics, cooling off in Miller Creek and strolling couples looking for romance. The 1.5 mile Lincoln Park Trail runs up one side of the creek and down the other and is an easy to moderate hike. It can be completed in 1.5 hours. The trail head is on the west side of the creek at 25th Ave West just above 4th Street.
A trail with a view, the Kingsbury Creek Trail begins just above the Lake Superior Zoo. Lined with majestic white pines along the lower part there is a great view from the top of the loop where the old Thompson Hill Road ends. At 1.3 miles and moderately challenging allow 1.5 hours to complete this hike. The trail head is at the end of Waseca Street just north of 72nd Ave West and there is ample parking in the Zoo's lot.
Cape Cod" is a great place for bird watchers especially if you can
stay right here in Duluth to do your watching. The Park
Point Trail which begins at Sky Harbor Airport is the place to go.
Duluth's newest trail is the Western Waterfront Trail. Following the scenic St. Louis River it abounds with water fowl and marsh plants. Located across the street from the Lake Superior Zoo at 74th Ave West the eastern parking area is clearly marked. The western end of the trail is on Spring Street in the Riverside neighborhood. This an easy 5 mile trail which will take about 3 hours to complete.
The historic trail that follows part of the old Skyline Boulevard is the Mission Creek Trail. This loop trail takes you above winding Mission Creek and offers some steep and rocky stretches for the more adventurous hiker. Located at the far western end of the city in the Fond du Lac neighborhood. Turn off Highway 23 at 131st Ave W where a short drive to the end of the street will bring you to an open field with plenty of parking space. The trail is 3.75 miles long and has steep and slippery stretches, good footwear is a must. It takes 4 hours to make this hike.
Duluth has over 11,000 acres of public open space and parkland within the city limits. The trail inventory includes over 96 miles of trails which include 45 miles of snowmobile trails and 49 miles of other linear trails and parks. We have five groomed cross country ski trails totaling 37 kilometers (approximately 23 miles). In addition to the cross country ski trails we have two golf courses which are designated for ski-joring. We also have eight summer recreation trails with a total of 53 miles of hiking trails, 10 miles of bike trails and 3 miles of inline skating.
Annual maintenance by the Parks Department focuses on controlling water/erosion, controlling and repairing abuse, mowing and brushing ski trails once or twice during the summer, trying to maintain a grass clover surface on the ski and snowmobile trails, and grooming the ski trails twice a week during the ski season, as weather permits. Funds are limited. The grant-in-aid program from ski licenses for example, provides the City about $6,000 annually. That amount does not cover the cost of grooming, let alone off-season maintenance. Volunteers and youth job programs are important contributors to trail maintenance.