Duluth mountain bike trail network expanding

Testing the new mountain biking trail
Elias Featherly (orange shirt) and Glenn Olson (background, blue top) take a break from trail building to test out a berm on a portion of a new mountain biking trail Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

Duluth is forging ahead this summer with its plan to become a premier mountain biking city.

The Spirit Mountain ski area plans to add two more downhill mountain bike trails to add to the two existing ones, while a biking club is also expanding its trail system. Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) plans to build nine miles of trails in the Mission Creek area and add 3½ miles to the 5½ miles already in place in the Lester-Amity Park system, the Duluth News Tribune reported Monday.

Map of planned trails

And starting May 23, Spirit Mountain will begin operating a lift for bikers and others from Thursdays through Sundays.

"This year is just going to be an explosion in the quality of life for our citizens," said Adam Sundberg, chairman of COGGS. "We really are going to be a mountain biking destination."

The club is also moving ahead with plans for the Duluth Traverse, a 100-mile trail from Mission Creek to Lester Park. Environmental reviews are nearly complete, Sundberg said.

Word of Duluth's trails is spreading. Outside magazine in April named Duluth the No. 2 adventure travel hub in the world, behind Kununurra, Australia. The magazine called Duluth "a magnet for aerobic fiends who train year-round."

"We are beginning to fulfill our tremendous potential by playing to our strengths, and it's working," Mayor Don Ness said. "We see entrepreneurs and skilled workers who are choosing to live in Duluth because of the outdoor adventure opportunities at our doorstep."

Spirit Mountain plans to begin work as soon as conditions permit and finish the trails this summer, said executive director Renee Mattson. The two new trails will be funded with $60,000 in city tourism tax money.

Spirit Mountain already has the 1.5-mile Candyland trail and the more challenging one-mile Smorgasbord Trail. Both are "gravity" trails, meaning cyclists ride mostly downhill. Candyland also is a "flow" trail, suitable for novices and experts. The new trails also are expected to be "flow" trails.

"It's really important that we don't end up with all expert trails," Mattson said. "To build the sport, you need the terrain to allow people to build their skills."

COGGS was awarded a $250,000 Clean Water, Land and Legacy program grant in 2011. That state tax money will become available for the Duluth Traverse once the reviews are complete, Sundberg said. The group also has secured $8,000 in grants from the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation and a $10,000 grant from bike maker Specialized.


Information from the Duluth News Tribune

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.