Saturday, August 1, 2009

Detour in Duluth

Hey, I got a great new trail for you. If you're walking around Duluth, this one might just save your day.

To connect Duluth's crowded Canal Park tourist area with the wide open spaces of the DECC, Great Lakes Aquarium and Bayfront Park, the creaky Minnesota Slip bridge crosses, well, Minnesota Slip. This is actually the route of the Superior Hiking Trail through Duluth, which means there could even be a North Country Trail through-hiker on the bridge.

Minnesota Slip is home to the William Irvin tourist attraction and a long line of sailboats. When the bridge is working, tourists pour across it:

But when the bridge is up to let out a charter boat or the Vista Star, it can be a long and even rainy wait for the old clunker to come back down again. And there's a great chance it might break again.

So you might have to take the long way around Minnesota Slip. That used to mean a long hot detour through Canal Park proper. One of the problems was there wasn't room by the sailboats and the water's edge to run the path. The sprawling Meierhoff Building pushes right up to the water's edge.

City planners and architects worked with the owner of the building and ran the "trail" right through the ground level. Duluth's famed Lakewalk has a new spur trail, the "Baywalk":

This cuts a few hundred yards off the long detour, plus there's some shelter and shade. It's a bit bizarre cutting through the buiding; at one point, you look right into the back of the indoor amusement park Thrillz. The view of the docked sailboats through the windows can be marred by graffiti:

The Baywalk pops you out in a parking lot behind Red Lobster, and you can pick your way from there to wherever you're going in the DECC area.

This fine little urban tunnel detour hiking trail will never have the crowds of the Lakewalk proper. But it's a great addition to Duluth's urban pathways.

No comments: