Trailforks Trail of the Month: Duluth, Minnesota

Mar 17, 2016
by Mark Holloway  
TRAILFORKS

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Trail of the Month


Photo Credit teleturn2 Overlook Trail
Photo Credit: Erik Blow

This month we visit the westernmost point of Lake Superior and the City of Duluth, Minnesota. In the past few years Duluth has started popping up on many mountain bikers radar screens and for good reason. The city and especially the local trail association, Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shore (COGGS) have invested a substantial amount of time and money into trail development. In the last five years alone the area has seen more than 35 miles of newly developed trail, including the Duluth Traverse trail system. An easy rated multi-use trail that, when complete, will connect users to five different trail networks resulting in over 100 miles of fully connected trail, all within easy access of the city.


It's so hard to focus on a single trail when talking about a destination like Duluth. The area offers mountain bikers so many different riding experiences within a very short distance of each other. If flow trails are your thing, be sure to check out Mission Creek, the newest professionally built trail system in Duluth. The system was designed and constructed by professional trail builders, Progressive Trail Design of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Rock Solid Trails, the masters behind the epic Copper Harbor trail system in Michigan. If you're more into technical riding and want to experience old school rocky, raw trails then Piedmont has you covered. Gravity riding your thing? Duluth happens to be home to Spirit Mountain, the only lift-assisted mountain bike park in Minnesota.

Photo Credit Hansi Johnson
Photo Credit Hansi Johnson

   We reached out to a couple of local Duluth riders and asked them, "What would you consider to be one of the must-ride trails in the area, and why?"
bigquotesCOGGS is laying down so much new trail each year that it's hard to solidify a favorite. However, when Home Brew was completed in 2014 it made a big impression on me and quickly became my favorite. Home Brew is a real 'playground' of a loop. It has more b-lines incorporating natural rock features than I can keep track of, making it a very cerebral ride. You can hit this trail 50 times and have a different ride each time. Yet, despite all of the trail's 'texture', it still flows to some degree. I tend to wear a fair bit of tight petroleum-based clothing, but for those baggy-shorted folks with a bit more bike under them, The Kissing Booth is quick 'n gnarly descent off of Home Brew with a trail back up, so you can get back onto Home Brew right where you left it. About half of the Home Brew loop edges along the top of a ridge line overlooking the City of Duluth, the expansive St. Louis River, Lake Superior, and beyond them, Wisconsin.....if you have a chance to glance up from the trail.
- Matt Goodman


Photo Credit HANSI JOHNSON
Photo Credit Hansi Johnson

bigquotesOh man... You could probably ask this question to every rider in town and receive a slightly different answer from each one. We've got everything from miles of buttery flow trail to playgrounds of raw exposed bedrock. With the idea of variety in mind, I'd have to say my top ride in town would be Brewer Park - which is a dream scenario of both flow and technical features co-existing in one trail. Head down 'Home Brew' for a fast playful ride, then check out 'The Kissing Booth' for some old-school ruggedness. If I was to break it down a bit more. Choices for flow trail: Mission Creek Trails and Lester Park Trails, both offer machine-built goodness high on the banks of some of our more scenic river valleys. Choices for Technical Riding: The Piedmont Trails are perched high on the Duluth hillside on a giant slab of bedrock. Gravity: Spirit Mountain - The Midwest's first and largest lift-assisted bike park. Trails range from beginner level flow to aggressive DH riding.
- Waylon Munch (COGGS - Chairperson)


Photo Credit Hansi Johnson



Photo Credit Hansi Johnson

Photo Credit Hansi Johnson
Photo by Hansi Johnson


Photo Credit HANSI JOHNSON
Photo Credit Hansi Johnson

Duluth hasn't forgotten about you riders that just can't get enough and what to ride year round. The area has fast become the number one destination for winter fat biking in Minnesota. Thanks to the volunteers at COGGS you'll find over 25 miles of machined groomed trails. This doesn't include the non-groomed trails that are packed down and rideable thanks to the amount of snowshoe traffic seen in the area. If all this is not enough for you, Spirit Mountain is one of only a few ski resorts in North America offering lift-assisted winter downhill fat biking. Aside from the actual ski runs themselves, riders can get their winter downhill fix on lower Happy Camper, Candyland and Calculated Risk which are fully groomed by COGGS volunteers.

Photo Credit HANSI JOHNSON
Photo Credit Hansi Johnson


Photo Credit HANSI JOHNSON
Photo Credit HANSI JOHNSON

The Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shore along with The City of Duluth have put countless hours of hard work and resources into their long-term recreational trail plan. Right from the start, their goal was to be "a premier trail city in North America". What started out as just a vision has grown into a destination truly worth checking out. So much so, that last year IMBA honored Duluth with the distinction of Gold Level Ride Center. Be it summer or winter, if you're looking for a mountain bike destination that can offer all levels of riders the opportunity to experience a diverse selection of trails, Duluth should be on the top of your list.

Photo Credit Hansi Johnson
If you like what's going on in Duluth, Minnesota. Then consider donating to our friends at the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shore, and help them achieve their goal of 100+ miles of fully connected trail for all to enjoy.


Images by: @Hansi Johnson




Are you interested in seeing a trail your association manages featured in a future Trail of the Month article?


Must Read This Week

45 Comments

  • + 26
 Great article @slipfinger ! The bike community here in Duluth works really hard to create world-class trails and it is only going to get better. Also, it is quite the honor to have a picture alongside those of Hansi!
  • + 8
 Coggs and the volunteers really can't be thanked enough. Also Don't forget Duluth is home to some great rock climbing and paddle sports as well. We've also got some awesome breweries and restaurants. Heck of a destination for sure.
  • + 4
 Pizza luce's! Must stop for me every time im up there. Havent tried the climbing yet but it looks sick. Stoked to start out the season fairly soon!
  • + 8
 You also gave us Trampled by Turtles, and for that I am forever grateful to Duluth.
  • + 5
 Bluegrass, beers and bikes. Welcome Duluth (and Minnesota in general!)
  • + 3
 Lol you forgot blue collar in your aliteration...seriously only people at the trail can believe I spent 3k on a pedal bike...they think im talking about a motorcycle...which I sometimes am...it gets confusing for them...too many elipses... I still love it here though. Although damn this snow to hell. This is probably going to read less funny when I wake up.
  • + 16
 Meanwhile in San Diego, 4 riding areas have been closed in the last year. 2 areas were closed 2 years ago. What an embarrassment that a city the size of Duluth has more trails of a better quality than San Diego. Kudos to Minnesota and Minnesotans, they get it and get it done. SDMBA, you guys should take a trip there and get your learn on.
  • + 1
 left san diego 10 years ago, moved to asheville. mtn biking in SD kinda sucked it then, sorry to hear it's gotten even worse.
  • + 17
 How long is the trail not covered with snow? Also, isnt the mosquito your state bird?
  • + 4
 Actually it's the loon. Smile
  • - 1
 Aahhhhh, right. I was thinking Northdakota.
  • + 3
 No.... ^^^^ He's correct. Size of small bats up their by the Boundary Waters!
  • + 11
 Pinkbike, stop changing fonts. Thanks.
  • - 2
 yeah or actually close out your HTML at the end of an article. noobs
  • + 10
 who fuckin cares.
  • + 5
 All the ledge rock really makes some of the older trails slow to dry. COGGS continues to rework trails so stay dry longer and mitigate as much water as they can. the dirt bosses do a excellent job of posting trail condition right on there website. I would like give my thanks to COGGS many of there member have help my local club with our trail efforts. THANKS!
  • + 8
 Looks wicked here. Those swoopy berms kill it.
  • + 4
 Finally yay! I usually take one or two trips up to spirit each year. Not a huge park by any sense of the word, but great trails and cheap to ride. Awesome xc trails in the area too. And you can camp at the top of Spirit if you want too so that you're right on the trails. I hope they keep expanding. Wildcat, Smorgasborg, and Calculated Risk are sick trails.
  • + 3
 Grew up in Minnesota and been living in Bellingham, Wash for the last decade and absolutely love it here, it's home now o doubt. But a couple summers ago took a road trip instead of flying to see fam and friends and did some riding on these exact trails. Thanks Mark for sharing an article about my old haunts, looking forward to a return trip to such a beautiful place.
  • + 5
 Duluth is a kick ass city. Glad to see it getting some pinkbike love.
  • + 5
 Just found my next ride stop for my trip - nice
  • + 1
 You won't be disappointed.
  • + 0
 They have been growing their network of trails extensively over the past few years. It's neat to finally see some photos of the work put in. Looks like a nice place to shred in the SUMMER! Curious on how they were able to work with the regulators to get buy-in to build new trails. California specifically San Diego seems to be run by anti-mtb Nazis running the BLM.
  • + 1
 All of these trails are on city property and the city gets that mtb trails are good for residents and bring riders from MSP (like me) up there all the time spending $$$
  • + 4
 it a amazing place to ride and a great place to call home
  • + 4
 i see berm goodness!
  • + 2
 good job duluth
  • + 0
 who has zero love for berms?
  • - 6
flag Fattymcbutterpants (Mar 17, 2016 at 16:19) (Below Threshold)
 As 2chainz would say, motherfuck the otherside!
  • + 1
 Anyone have an idea of what trail conditions may be like in mid-April for mountain biking? Would live to check out the Duluth Trails.
  • + 2
 I wouldn't count on it, but you never know either. I've been in the twin cities (about 2 hours south of Duluth) for a bit now, and even though there is no snow on the ground, trails are still closed (here in the metro) due to the freeze-thaw cycle. A safe bet would be May.
  • + 2
 Yea this probably. By the by getting stoked for lebanon to open up, they said at least for weeks but all I heard was four weeks which puts it first week of april! Hopefully...
  • + 2
 April is always an unpredictable time around here, and it is hard to say for sure if the trails will be ready to roll by mid-April. We recently received a couple inches of wet, heavy rain/snow, and it's not unusual for winter to hold on into May. Definitely keep up on updates from COGGS through their website coggs.com or their facebook page. They monitor their trails very well and open up as soon as they can.
  • + 3
 Hansi!!!
  • + 2
 Duluth is awesome! Cant wait till the snow melts...
  • + 2
 looks impressive, really jealous now
  • + 2
 oh babby, dont'cha know these trails were made fer tricycles
  • + 2
 Looks fun. Hows the Salmon fishing?
  • + 3
 Amazing on Lake Superior
  • + 1
 Looks like a nice place to live.
  • + 3
 Great pix Hansi!
  • + 1
 I knew lady who came from Duluth...
  • + 0
 normally i like riding simple old school primitive singletrack, but that berm section gets me chubbed up big time
  • + 1
 Good read. I will have to put it on my list. Looks super fun.
  • + 1
 Impressive.

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2018. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.073152
Mobile Version of Website