There’s a reason Outside Magazine named Duluth the “Best Town Ever.” The reason is this: easy access to world-class outdoor adventures. In the Doing Stuff Outdoors Department – whether it’s hiking, biking, climbing, paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, etc. – Duluth simply rules.
To prove it, we’ve ranked a few popular Duluth outdoor experiences from the most easygoing to the most extreme.
Easy Breezy: Strolling the Lakewalk
(Time: a couple hours for stops, shopping and rock skipping along the way)
The Lakewalk starts in Canal Park and meanders north, hugging Lake Superior’s shore for nearly eight miles. One popular stop is Leif Erikson Park, especially its 4.5-acre Rose Garden with more than 3,000 rose bushes. It’s the perfect spot to bring a blanket, open a book and watch the ships come in.
Easy Street: Cruise Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive
(Time: half or full day)
Carved into the dramatic cliffs along Minnesota’s North Shore, US Highway 61 runs 150 miles from Duluth to the Canadian border. It’s a designated “All-American Road” by the Federal Highway Administration, and they know roads. Is it worth the hype? Eight state parks, historic lighthouses, gnarly forests and views of the “the Big Lake” say yes.
A Day the Beach: Picnic at Park Point
(Time: 2 hours – half day)
A far cry from the rough and rugged Lake Superior coast, Park Point’s gentle beach is a welcome spot to swim, lay a towel and chill out. Hiking is also an option with the 5.2 mile out-and-back Park Point Trail.
Picking Favorites: Agate Hunting on Lake Superior
(Time: 1-2 hours)
They aren’t exactly big game, but Lake Superior agates are the favorite target for North Shore rockhounds. These banded, shiny treasures are best spotted in the slanting sunlight, near dusk and dawn on Duluth shores.
Stretch Your Legs: Waterfall Chasing in Congdon Park
(Time: 1-2 hours)
This park along Tischer Creek features a family-friendly, 1.2-mile trail. Small waterfalls and cascades make for easy listening as you scope the bridges, cliffs and rocks. If the mood feels like something straight out of the Shire, you’re doing it right.
Break a Sweat: Hike the DWP Trail
(Time: 3 hours)
The DWP is a rail line-turned-trail, named for its route along the former Duluth, Winnipeg, and Pacific Railroad. Highlights include St. Louis River views and blasted rock tunnels under Ely’s Peak. This ADA-compliant path is 10 feet wide and wheelchair friendly, one of several such trails in Duluth. The DWP is 7.9 miles point-to-point, if you’re going the distance.
Balancing Act: SUP on Lake Superior
(Time: tours range from 90 minutes to 4 hours)
The largest freshwater lake in North America is a big-time paddleboarding destination. Just don’t try and make it all 350 miles from one end to the other. In town, Brighton Beach at Kitchi Gammi Park is one of the top spots to launch. Don’t have a board? No problem. Local outfitters have the gear and the know-how to get you out on the water. You supply the surfer lingo yourself.
Adrenaline Inducing: Mountain Bike around Mission Creek
(Time: 1 hour to half day)
Looking for a thrill ride? Duluth is one of six gold-level Ride Centers certified by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). You could say we’re kind of a big deal on wheels. One top-rated spot, within city limits, is the Mission Creek trail system. With its 17 designated routes and 27 trail miles, these trails along the St. Louis River have a little something for all speeds.