Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A special hiking season

It's time to hit the ski trails...without your skis. 

For a brief few weeks in the fall, a whole new set of hiking trails open up on the North Shore. Some of the cross country ski trails make for EXCELLENT hiking, once they've had their preseason mowing. The last few weeks have been pretty warm and sunny up here, so muddy patches may have dried up. Ski trails also provide the best crunch-crunch-crunch of walking through six inches of crispy maple leaves just fallen from the trees.

One of my favorite ski trails for hiking is at Hartley Nature Center in Duluth. Most of the ski trails in the state parks are maintained for hiking as well and should be in good shape this fall.

However, some ski trails run right through woodland swamps. This isn't a problem in winter, since everything is frozen up. Even in a dry summer, however, these trails can be a hassle to hike. Above is the Bardon Peak loop on the Magney-Snively ski trail in Duluth. That trail system has many wet areas in the summer. 

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