Ok, you and your friends and your family are in Duluth for NorthShore. Maybe you are nervously anticipating the race, or the event has come and gone and you have some free time on your hands. Did you know Duluth is an outdoor haven for all different types of free outdoor recreation? Here are just five free options to check out!
1. Superior Hiking Trail
The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) is a nationally-renowned hiking trail along Lake Superior’s Minnesota North Shore. It spans approximately 300 miles from the Canadian border south, through Duluth, to the Wisconsin border near Jay Cooke State Park. There are ample trailheads within Duluth city limits, and about 50 miles of trail just within the City of Duluth! Take a drive north or south for even more hiking.
Plan Your Day: Visit the SHT Trail Sections webpage: https://superiorhiking.org/trail-section/mnwi-border-to-duluth/. Pick one and go! Brewer Park Loop is an excellent loop trail with ample views of Duluth and the Saint Louis River. To access the Brewer Park Loop, from downtown Duluth, take I-35 Central Ave. Exit #252. Turn right and go 0.8 miles uphill on Central Ave. Turn left on Highland St. and go 1.1 miles to intersection of Skyline Pkwy. Turn right on Skyline Pkwy. to parking lot on right. The Brewer Park Loop is approximately 3.5 miles of fairly difficult hiking. Plan for several hours, bring ample water and snacks, especially if you are recovering from a skating race! (Believe it or not, but the Superior Hiking Trail is just a stone’s throw from the NSIM finish line! You might see a thru-hiker as you finish the race!)
2. Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Trail
The Duluth Traverse (DT) is a mountain bike trail that will eventually span the entire length of Duluth, approximately 40 miles worth of singletrack trails! The DT was built and is maintained by the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, and is generally a more mild trail for all abilities.
Plan Your Day: Visit the DT webpage: https://www.coggs.com/duluth-traverse-project. Try Hartley Park! Hartley hosts a section of the DT trail, as well as Superior Hiking Trail, a nature center, Nordic ski trails in the winter, and is a hub for outdoor recreation in Duluth. You can park at 3001 Woodland Avenue, Duluth MN 55803. There are several loops to take, and ample trail maps at the Hartley Nature Center trailhead.
3. Park Point Beach Hike
Park Point is one of world’s largest natural freshwater sand spit. Enjoy a beautiful sand beach on the shores of Lake Superior with excellent, unique views of Downtown Duluth and the city’s hillside. There are many points to access the beach, from the lake side and the bay side, along the entire Minnesota Avenue of Park Point. Swimming is hit-and-miss, and water temperature can change from balmy to absolutely frigid in less that 24 hours.
Plan Your Day: Cross the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge, drive to the very end of Park Point and park near the Duluth Sky Harbor airport. Adjacent to the airport is a hiking trail, 2 miles to Wisconsin Point and Superior Entry Lighthouse. You can make a 4-mile loop by taking the beach all the way back.
4. Bird Watching at Hawk Ridge
Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is a several hundred-acre nature reserve at the east end of Duluth with four miles of hiking trails and plenty of opportunities to observe plants and animals native to the Duluth region all year round. From mid-August until December, Hawk Ridge is an excellent area to view migrating birds, who tend to concentrate at the western tip of Lake Superior. More information can be found at https://www.hawkridge.org.
Plan Your Day: Take a drive on the scenic Skyline Boulevard! Parking is available at 3980 E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth, MN 55804. There are ample off-road trails throughout the area for exploration on foot or bike.
5. Shake-out Skate on the Munger Trail
One of the best training grounds for skaters in Duluth is the Munger Trail! This 70-mile paved path runs north from Hinckley, MN to Duluth. About five miles of trail out of Duluth were widened and repaved in late 2017, making for excellent out-and-back skating, or a fun point-to-point adventure. Further out, the trail travels near Jay Cooke State Park, affording spectacular views of the powerful Saint Louis River.
Plan Your Day: Park at 7009 Pulaski St, Duluth, MN 55807. The trail starts near the train tracks and runs southwest. Try an out-and-back!