10 Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota

Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, MN

Whether you are looking for an easy-going scenic hike or a more challenging hike with incredible views, Duluth, Minnesota, has plenty of trails to choose from.

As one of Minnesota’s favorite getaway destinations, Duluth is a fascinating industrial port town on Lake Superior with tons to keep visitors occupied from great food and drink, to incredible museums and landmarks, to superb antiquing and boutique, winter and summer sports, and no shortage of amazing trails to hike.

Most of the trails are dog-friendly as long as they are leashed. So grab your dog, load your backpack, and head to one of these gorgeous Duluth hiking trails.

Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota

1. Chester Park

Just about anyone can enjoy a stroll through Chester Park. Established in 1891, this 2.4-mile hike has minimal traffic and is mainly used for nature trips or scenic walks. You can plan your visit year-round and bring your furry friend along!

Features

  • Easy Parking
  • Family Friendly
  • Dog Friendly
  • Scenic Waterfall
  • Scenic Rivers
  • Food Nearby

About Chester Park

You will begin your hike at the bottom of the trail, uphill for the first half and down the second. If you want to extend your excursion, secondary routes will guide you to the creek’s ledge.

In 2012, a vast flood-hit Duluth causing many trails to suffer severe damage. There are many downed trees within the creek, offering its view a little uniqueness. Aside from the remaining trees, in 2016, the trail would be completely fixed up and ready to go.  

Take stunning views of the creek, waterfalls, and billion-year-old volcanic rock.

While walking your chosen trail, there are many instances where you can walk over a bridge that allows you to go to the other side of the track and vice versa. Some people will even hop across the giant boulders to get to the other side.

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Chester Park Moderate 2.5 miles 400 feet 1800 E Skyline Pkwy Duluth, MN 55805

See related: Best Restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota

2. Elys Peak Trail

Elys Peak Trail, Minnesota
Source: Alltrails

Elys Peak Trail is a quick 1.7-mile hike that offers spectacular views. Tourists and locals enjoy this trail for hiking, nature trips, and watching birds. 

Features

  • Easy Parking
  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Bird Watching
  • Scenic Rivers
  • Rock Climbing

About Elys Peak Trail

After parking, a wooden path leads you into the forest. From here, you will find the old railway that was abandoned in the ’80s. Now, it is an exciting tunnel that guides you to scenic hiking. 

Elys Peak Trail is a relatively short hike, but you can opt to take one of the many trails that branch off before you reach the tunnel. If you aren’t up for exploring, you can take the main trail on the right.

There are plenty of markings to keep you headed in the right direction. However, you may want to grab your flashlight; it can get pretty dark once you reach the middle of the tunnel.

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Elys Peak Trail Moderate 1.7 miles 1,133 ft Ely’s Peak, Midway Township, MN 55810

See Related: Things to Do in Ely, Minnesota

3. Split Rock Lighthouse Trail

Split Rock Lighthouse on the Top of a Hill

For those looking to have a fun-filled day hiking, taking in scenes, and enjoying a historical view, then Split Rock Lighthouse Trail has a lot to offer. 

Features

  • Easy Parking
  • Family Friendly
  • Dog friendly
  • Bird Watching
  • Wildflowers
  • Scenic Lake
  • Historic Lighthouse
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Food Nearby

About Split Rock Lighthouse Trail

You can make an entire day of activities in this one spot. If you bring your dog, they can tag along to plenty of areas. However, you cannot take any pets to the Historic Site grounds.

Back in 1905, a storm hit Split Rock Point that was so violent, it destroyed 29 ships in one day. Thus, the idea to build the Split Rock Lighthouse was born. 

The best time to visit Hiking Split Rock Lighthouse Trail is on calm summer days. During this time, you can see the still lake more clearly. Just past the lighthouse, you will see the remains of a 19th-century Norwegian fishing village.

In summer, it can get hot so ensure you pack the proper hiking hats for women and these great men’s hiking hat options to deal with any type of weather condition.

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Split Rock Lighthouse Trail Easy 6 miles 300 feet 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road Two Harbors, MN 55616

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Northern, Minnesota

4. Congdon Park

Congdon Park is a simple hike just over a mile long and is easy enough for people of all skill levels. Take in the scenic views of the river and waterfalls during your hike. The best time to visit this picturesque location is April-November.

Features

  • Dogs Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Partially Paved
  • River
  • Scenic Views
  • Picnic Tables
  • Waterfall

About Congdon Park

Congdon Park offers some of the most pristine hiking trails in Duluth. Along your walk, expect to cross beautiful bridges and take in the sights of breathtaking waterfalls along. Once you immerse yourself in nature, you will nearly forget that this is in the middle of a neighborhood. 

This park goes back to 1908, when it was developed on land donated by Chester Congdon. The creek runs through what was his property.

He would give Duluth the parkland and even pay for the development on one condition; the city would stop using the creek as an open sewer. In 1930, bridges were built to take visitors to other areas along the river.

As you make your way onto this trail, you will feel like you are in a remote gorge. As in other areas of Duluth, there are many cliffs of volcanic rock over a billion years old. 

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Congdon Park Easy 1.2 miles 226 feet 33rd Avenue East & Greysolon Street to St. Marie Street

See Related: Best Museums in Duluth, Minnesota

5. Lester River Trail

Lester River Trail is another location with plenty of activities to take part in. There is moderate traffic from tourists and locals looking to enjoy the sights and nature.

Features

  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Easy Parking
  • Pavilions
  • Picnic Tables
  • Wedding Rental
  • Playground
  • BBQ Grills
  • Biking/Mountain Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Rivers

About Hiking Lester River Trail

The park is popular for families to come together, grill, play softball, and have a picnic. From there, you can hike through one of the most accessible walking trails within Duluth. However, there are plenty of trails to choose from to get more hiking. 

Decades before Duluth developed park systems, the Lester River was one of the most popular locations for fishermen and family picnics. Back in the 1880s, people looking to fish or enjoy a summer outing would find their way to the river by boats, carriages, or bicycles. 

There are many picturesque waterfalls, a river, and rocky shorelines within this park. As in the 1880s, it is a beautiful location for a family outing for light hiking and picnicking. The Duluth News Tribune described Lester River as “an enchanted land of fairy-like beauty.”

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Lester River Trail Easy 5.1 miles 410 feet 5830 Grand Avenue Duluth, MN 55807

See related: Find Duluth hotels with Booking.com

6. Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail (sometimes referred to as the SHT), is a whopping 310-mile-long trail in Minnesota and is known as one of the best hiking trails in the United States. As you walk through a forest, you also get scenic views overlooking Lake Superior for nearly the entire hike. 

Features

  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Scenic Overlooks
  • Waterfalls
  • Wildlife
  • Camping
  • Day Hiking
  • Scenic Lake Views

About the Superior Hiking Trail

This beautiful trail features waterfalls, white pines, and wildflowers as you follow along the river. In the summer, take in the sights on foot, and by winter, it becomes an excellent trail for skiing. The Superior Hiking Trail can be accessed from over 50 trailheads, many located in Duluth. 

The founders of the SHT envisioned a long-distance trail along the rocky ridgeline that would provide a scenic overlook of Lake Superior.

After organizing began for the first section of the Superior Hiking Trail in 86, it was officially opened in 1987. Rather than a ribbon-cutting ceremony, dignitaries gathered to cut a log. 

This hike can be somewhat challenging for some. Though the footpath can be a little rugged, the extraordinary views are well worth it. 

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Superior Hiking Trail Moderate 3-11 miles (depending on the section) 602-1829 feet 618 1st Avenue P.O. Box 315 Two Harbors, MN 55616

See Related: Best Hotels in Duluth, Minnesota

7. Knife River Trail

Knife River Trail Scenery
image by Knife River Org

Knife River Trail is a hike that is somewhat off the beaten path. It features a river and can be enjoyed by beginners and expert hikers alike. The best time to plan your visit to the Knife River Trail is within the months of May-September.

Features

  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Waterfalls
  • Scenic Lake View
  • River

About the Knife River Trail

Take your family and dogs to the Knife River Trail for a scenic hike featuring mature forests, enchanting views, and a stunning look at Lake Superior. You can begin your hike at one of the trailheads at the end of East Shihon Road or near Hawk Hill Road.

The Knife River community has a long history, dating back to the first days of fishing and logging on the North Shore in Minnesota.

This village was central to major railroads that served the area during the 1880s. In 1838, the first recorded American total-loss shipwreck took place at the mouth of Knife River.

This trail is fun and straightforward for the whole family, including furry members. Take a walk along the river and enjoy relaxing as you look over Lake Superior. 

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Knife River Trail Easy 5.7 miles 357 feet Knife River Recreation Center P.O. Box 266 199 Alger Smith Road Knife River, MN 55609

See Related: Ideas for Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

8. The Lift Bridge to Enger Tower Trail

Trail in Enger Park
image by Rafael S/TripAdvisor

Located in St. Louis County lies the 5.3-mile out-and-back Lift Bridge to Enger Tower Trail. The Lift Bridge to Enger Tower Trail is located in Duluth in Minnesota’s St. Louis County. It’s a great spot for picnicking, BBQing, birdwatching, and even rock climbing.

Features

  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Easy Parking
  • Picnic Area
  • Picnic Tables
  • BBQ Grills
  • Climbing/Bouldering
  • Birdwatching
  • Public Access Restroom

About Enger Trail

You will walk along a flat, paved walkway when you start this trail. However, the second half is highly wooded, somewhat steep, and single-tracked. However, once you reach the end, you get a panoramic view above the city, Lake Superior, and of course, the historic Enger Tower.

Both Enger Park and the golf course nearby were developed on land using money donated by Bert Enger in 1921. By 1931, his will included more money contributing to the park’s development. In 1939, the Enger Tower would be built in his honor. 

Though this trail is family-friendly, some sections include a good amount of bedrock and high climbs, so it is best for more adventurous children. 

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Lift Bridge to Enger Tower Trail Moderate 5.3 miles 587 feet 5830 Grand Avenue Duluth, MN 55807

See related: Things to Do in Superior, Wisconsin

9. Hartley Park

The Hartley Nature Center Loop is a trail that features views of a lake and offers multiple activities for the whole family. No matter what time of the year it is, you can enjoy outdoor fun at Hartley Park. 

Features

  • Easy Parking
  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Lake Views
  • Nearby Nature Center
  • Picnic Area
  • Climbing/Bouldering
  • Birdwatching
  • Public Access Restroom

About Hartley Park

Hikers and bikers enjoy visiting Hartley Park for the breathtaking views of the St. Louis River Valley and Lake Superior. A Nature Center within the park offers education, fun, and exploration for people of all ages.

Guilford G. Hartley was a Duluth businessman who produced vegetables on his farm. Hartley Park sits on land that was once referred to as Allendale Farms. This 640-acre park contains miles and miles of trails through the first, pine groves, and wetlands.

Depending on the weather, some trails may be closed to prevent damage. Though any closures are publicized, use good judgment and steer clear of any wet spots on the trail. 

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Hartley Park Moderate 5.3 miles 429 feet Hartley Nature Center 3001 Woodland Ave Duluth, MN 55803

Like what you read? There are many things to do in Duluth, find Duluth tours at GetYourGuide.

10. Piedmont Trailhead

Mountain Biker on Piedmont Trail, Duluth, Minnesota
Bogdan Denysyuk / Shutterstock

For an extraordinary view of Lake Superior, wildlife, and picnicking, the Piedmont Trailhead is an ideal location for a hike. Piedmont Trailhead is a popular place for skiers of all skill levels in the winter.

Features

  • Easy Parking
  • Picnic Tables
  • Scenic River Views
  • Rocky Overlooks

About Piedmont Trailhead

Piedmont Trailhead is one of the many trailheads located within the Superior Hiking Trail. However, this one is highly suggested for its gorgeous views. With the highest elevation being over 1,000 feet, you can imagine how beautiful the lake is from that perspective.

The project of planning and constructing the Piedmont trail began in 2007. Many improvements have been made on the path to improve its overall flow.

This trailhead is known for its rock formations. There is only one smooth trail, and heading in another direction will lead you to collections of rocks and drop-offs. Remember, this trail is popular for bikers, so keep an eye out for them for everyone’s safety.

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation Location
Piedmont Trailhead Easy-Moderate 2.5 miles 1325 feet 2226 Hutchinson Rd, Duluth, MN 55811

Summary: Best Hiking Trails in Duluth

Hiking Trail Difficulty Distance Elevation
Chester Park Moderate 2.5 miles 400 feet
Elys Peak Trail Moderate 1.7 miles 1,133 ft
Split Rock Lighthouse Trail Easy 6 miles 300 feet
Congdon Park Easy 1.2 miles 226 feet
Lester River Trail Easy 5.1 miles 410 feet
Superior Hiking Trail Moderate 3-11 miles (depending on the section) 602-1829 feet
Knife River Trail Easy 5.7 miles 357 feet
Lift Bridge to Enger Tower Trail Moderate 5.3 miles 587 feet
Hartley Park Moderate 5.3 miles 429 feet
Piedmont Trailhead Easy-Moderate 2.5 miles 1325 feet

FAQs

How long is the Park Point Nature Trail in Duluth, MN?

The Park Point Nature Trail in Duluth is a 4-mile long trail that winds through the dunes and forests of the Park Point peninsula. It offers stunning views of Lake Superior and is a popular spot for birdwatching and nature walks. The trail is open to hikers, bikers, and skiers and is accessible year-round.

Where is the Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth?

The Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth is a 310-mile-long footpath that follows the ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior. The trail stretches from the Canadian border to the Wisconsin border, with most of the trail in northeastern Minnesota. The trailhead in Duluth is located at the Martin Road trailhead, about 10 miles north of downtown Duluth.

How long does it take to hike Bean and Bear Lake?

The hike length to Bean and Bear Lake varies depending on the starting point. From the parking lot at County Road 4, it takes about 3.5 miles to reach Bean and Bear Lake. The trail is considered moderate to strenuous and takes about 2-3 hours to complete round trip.

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Kyle Kroeger
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Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

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