Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazing Lester Park trail

Just when I thought that the City of Duluth had rolled up the carpet and closed shop, their work crews pulled out a miracle.

The short loop up and down Amity Creek in Lester Park had always been incredibly scenic, with the mightiest white pines in town, a terrific waterfall, one and sometimes two footbridges crossing it. When my firstborn child was just a few days old I walked with him in the sling around the loop and, sort of like a North Woods christening, laid him out on the sling on a needle-covered boulder and stepped back just enough to take a picture.

But the trail was falling into the river. Wooden benches alongside the trail had tried in vain to stop solifluction, that insidious creep of soil downslope. Washouts from above broke out of inadequate culverts and made for impossible sidelong leaps.

When I was last there, in May or June, yellow caution tape was up and I felt sure that city attorneys were closing it off for good.

But, poodle in tow (or rather, in the tow of the poodle), I revisited the loop today, anxious about what I might find, prepared to bushwack into the forest.

And who would have guessed that the city (or someone!) had rescued the trail?! Brand new decking replaced washed out culverts. More impressively, the old wooden seating/retaining walls had been fully replaced with, get this, heavy metal, state park style footbridges on massive cement footings.

It's always hard to keep trails in river valleys. Erosion will win, over time. But this effort by the City of Duluth to retain access to this beautiful river gorge should be applauded regionwide.

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