Duluth Traverse nears completion after a long summer of trail work
With over 85 miles of singletrack trail now open and connected, bikers and hikers have more opportunities to get out than ever before inside city limits.
With trail work led in large part by the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS), the now operational Duluth Traverse links Duluth’s numerous trailheads across the city.
Tim Kostner, Trail Director and COGGS Board Member, is confident about future trail efforts.
“We hope to add an additional 25 miles, for a total of 110 miles of singletrack trail,” Kostner said.
Andre Watt, owner of Continental Ski and Bike shop, had nothing but positive things to say about the about the amount of trails in the city.
“You can be in any part of Duluth and be less than five minutes away from trail,” Watt said. “Whether you’re using the trails for biking or hiking, it has tied all the green spaces inside the city together, and has given people accessibility to spaces they haven’t before.”
The major trailheads include Lester-Hawk Ridge, Hartley, Piedmont-Brewer, Keene Creek, Spirit Mountain and Mission Creek.
Kostner was also impressed with the amount of volunteer help COGGS is getting from community riders and groups. He mentioned UMD’s Cycling Team in particular.
“UMD’s Cycling Team are active members, help fundraise and attend meetings and have made some great contributions,” said Kostner.
Lester Park Trail Steward, Mike Reuter, also talked about the help COGGS is getting to maintain this vast network.
“Each week we have crews working at Lester, Hartley, Piedmont/Brewer, and Spirit Mountain. There are also crews that go out to Mission Creek,” Reuter said.
Reuter said that the record rainfall this summer has made maintaining the trails a little more difficult.
"We have actually had a record summer in terms of rainfall,” Reuter said. “The weather can be hard to get around sometimes but the other main factor is soil type. For example Lester park has a lot of clay, which dries a lot slower than the dirt and rocks of Piedmont.”
COGGS is a volunteer driven 503c non-profit chapter of IMBA, the International Mountain Biking Association. IMBA recently designated Duluth as one of six Gold-Level Ride Centers in the world.
“We wouldn’t be where we’re at without IMBA, particularly when it came to getting the ball rolling in the early stages of trail development,” Reuter said. “Whether it be advocacy, trail design, or funding, IMBA has given us a huge helping hand.”
According to IMBA’s website, Duluth is joined by Park City in Utah, Boise-Eagle in Idaho, and Oakridge in Oregon. The other two Gold–Level ride centers are across the Pacific Ocean in Nelson and Rotorua, New Zealand.
“What this designation is saying is there is a large amount of variation in the type and difficulty of trails, and the system sets itself apart from the rest due to its connectivity with the Traverse and the rest of the city,” Watt said.