Cycling the Skyline

This is home territory. In fact, Skyline Parkway crosses the foot of my driveway. I grew up going on family drives along Skyline, a Scenic Byway that runs the length of Duluth at the crest of the hill. More recently, I’ve made it an annual cycling ritual to traverse its length, but this was the first time I’d truly done it end to end. Skyline Parkway was built in stages, primarily between the 1880s and 1940s. It grew from the center, reaching outward to the city’s east and west limits. As a result, there is great diversity in its environs. I was about to experience one of its extremes.

Man admiring the view with his bicycle on Skyline Parkway west.
Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway Overlook near Bardons Peak.

Traveling from west to east, I started at Beck’s Road. This piece was new to me, but I already knew what lay ahead. As soon as I entered the Snively-Magney Natural Area the parkway became a rough gravel road with plenty of hills. But I was rewarded for the extra effort and bumpy ride with intense quiet, a patchwork of greenery shading the road, and wilderness seclusion.

Woman riding bike down paved road with many trees surrounding.
Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway near Snively Magney.

The view from Bardon’s Peak Overlook clinched it, commanding well over 180-degrees of scenery. Down below the St. Louis River snaked through the landscape, presenting a real-life map of its journey into the harbor. On that rare calm day, glossy smooth water mirrored its surroundings. The awe carried me up and down the hills through the Spirit Mountain recreation area and back onto blessed pavement.

Lady riding a bicycle down Skyline Parkway west.
Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway Bardons-Peak

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