Walking along the North Shore in Duluth, MN

15 of the Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota (2024)

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Duluth is one of my favorite places to go hiking in Minnesota. There’s nothing like the lush evergreen forests, vibrant flowing rivers, and the clear crystal waters of Lake Superior. If you’ve found yourself in Duluth, there are many different outdoor spaces to explore locally!

Lester Park

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Walking along the North Shore in Duluth, MN

15 Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota: An Overview

One of the reasons I LOVED going to the University of Minnesota, Duluth was because as a broke college student, hiking was an inexpensive, accessible, and gratifying hobby that could take as much or as little time as I wanted. Not to mention, the area was beautiful. 

Of course, many people are drawn to northern Minnesota for the same reason. However, instead of traveling farther north up Lake Superior, this post focuses on hikes you can find in the city itself! There is no shortage of places to hike in Duluth, but let’s check out fifteen of our favorites!

  • Superior Hiking Trail
  • Lester Park Trails
  • Hartley Nature Park Trails
  • Chester Park Trails
  • Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve Trails
  • Ely’s Peak Trail
  • Park Point Nature Trail
  • The Lakewalk
  • Lincoln Park Trail
  • Enger Park Trails
  • Congdon Park Trail
  • Piedmont Trails
  • Mission Creek Trails
  • Western Waterfront Trail
  • Grassy Point Trail

15 Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota

Now that you have an idea of what trails we’ll be covering, let’s dive deeper into some of them! Lucky for you, many that are listed are parks that contain multiple hikes, so you’ll find more than just fifteen from this list! Let’s check them out!

Beautiful fall colors in Duluth on the Superior Hiking Trail

1. Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail is by far one of the most popular trails in Duluth for good reason! The Superior Hiking Trail is 310 miles long and travels up the northern shore of Lake Superior. It has beautiful views throughout the trail and is great for both hikers and backpackers!

The trail is divided into eight sections and Duluth is located in section one. There are a few different trailhead options that give you access to the trail, listed from south to north:

  • Skyline Parkway
  • Haines Road 
  • North 24th Avenue West
  • Twin Ponds
  • Rose Garden
  • Chester Bowl
  • Hartley Nature Center
  • Martin Road

There is also a loop option from Haines Road Trailhead. Unfortunately, there are no Superior Hiking Trail designated camping spots within Duluth, but once you get out of the city, there are designated sites every five to eight miles.

Lester Park is one of my all time favorite places with the best hiking spots in Duluth!

2. Lester Park Trails

Lester Park was one of my all-time favorite parks for a day hike during the three years I lived in Duluth. It’s located on the eastern side of the city and has around nine miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. This is a great place to hike if you enjoy being by water because the trails weave between Amity Creek and Lester River.

Another great way to experience Lester Park is by driving Seven Bridges Road! You’ll wind through the thick forest as you quite literally cross seven bridges along the way. Lester also offers the option to rent the park for large gatherings or special occasions!

Enjoying Hartley Nature Preserve

3. Hartley Nature Center Trails

Hartley Park is a great place to go hiking near the university off of Woodland Avenue! The park has 640 acres with over ten miles of multi-use trails that take you through wetlands, a pond, and pine grove forests. Hartley Nature Center is in Hartley Park, where you can find nature exhibits, programming, and recreational opportunities.

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    4. Chester Park Trails

    Chester Park is also a must-see for a great hiking experience in Duluth at any time of the year! The park is located along Chester Creek. There are many ways to enjoy Chester, including utilizing its hiking trails, playing at their sports field, going Nordic skiing, or snowboarding at Chester Bowl in the wintertime.

    A popular trail to take is Chester Park Loop – a 2.5-mile trail along the river! Additionally, you can find 6 miles of multi-use trails in Chester Bowl to choose from. Chester Park is a great place to take your family for some outdoor fun!

    Cool photo of the sunset hammocking in Duluth

    5. Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve Trails

    Hawk Ridge is a great place to go hiking if you’re looking for beautiful overlooks of Duluth. It’s located on Skyline Parkway on 235 acres of untouched land overlooking the city. The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is also located within the reserve and is worth checking out!

    A popular hike in Hawk Ridge is Amity Trail. You can take it as a loop from East to West to make it a 3.3-mile hike. It’s great for the solitude, birding, and views.

    View over Duluth from Hawks Ridge

    6. Ely’s Peak Trail

    Another classic hike in the area is Ely’s Peak Trail – a moderately challenging 1.8-mile loop that takes you up to Ely’s Peak. It’s located between Jay Cooke State Park and Duluth in a town called New Duluth. The peak is 1,133 at its tallest point and gives a sweeping overview of Lake Superior and the surrounding area at the top.

    This is a perfect short-distance hike that gives you all the best the area has to offer – views of the lake and harbor, nostalgic train tracks, and thick birch forests. A great time to hike the trail is during the fall or spring for radiant colors!

    Hanging out at Park Point

    7. Park Point Nature Trail

    You can’t visit Duluth and NOT go to Park Point Beach! Driving to the peninsula of Park Point is part of the experience as you cross the lift bridge over the canal onto a secluded coastal residential area. The Park Point Trail Nature Trail is an easy 5.2-mile out and back that follows the lake in the treeline.

    This is a great trail to walk any season, and during the colder months, you can expect a bit more solitude. The trail begins in a forested area, followed by dunes and ruins of an old lighthouse. Since the trail is continuous, take it as far as you’d like and turn around at any point!

    UP NEXT > 15 Best Hiking Trails near Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Duluth lakewalk

    8. The Lakewalk

    I’d consider the Lakewalk more of a walking path than a hiking trail, though that doesn’t take away from its magnificence and charm. The Lakewalk is an 8-mile paved pedestrian path that stretches from Bayfront Park to Brighton Beach. It goes through Canal Park where you can find great places to shop and dine.

    The Lakewalk is perfect for people looking to see Duluth’s attractions near the water. It’s near downtown, so it’s great for those looking to be outside and take in the city on foot. It’s a great path to take for city views!

    9. Lincoln Park Trail

    Lincoln Park Trail is a scenic and easy 1.2-mile trail along Miller Creek in Lincoln Park. It’s great for a quick stroll through nature without ever having to leave the city! On the trail, you’ll experience thick foliage, flowing water from the river, and a beautiful waterfall.

    You’ll also find a pavilion, Duluth’s first playground, and a paved path within Lincoln Park! Lincoln Park, Duluth also has fantastic shopping and dining experiences nearby! This trail is a perfect getaway on a day when you’re exploring the city.

    Enger Tower has some of the all time best hiking spots in Duluth

    10. Enger Park Trails

    Enger Park was one of my all-time favorite places in college. It includes a Japanese peace garden, multiple hiking trails, and a beautiful stone tower that overlooks the city. It’s a great place to check out during the fall when the leaves are peaking in color!

    After exploring some of the park, consider hopping on the Superior Hiking Trail to get some fantastic overlooks of Lake Superior through the birch and pine forest! You can find the trailhead to the north of the parking lot.

    11. Congdon Park Trail

    Congdon Park is arguably one of the most scenic hiking areas in Duluth due to its pristine waters of Tischer Creek, magnificent bridges, and breathtaking waterfalls. It’s located in the neighborhood of Congdon and stretches east towards Lake Superior. Another great attraction just across the street is the historic Glensheen Mansion!

    Congdon Park Trail is a 1.2-mile out and back along the creek and is rated as an easy route. It’s a forested trail along Tischer Creek that provides spectacular views of cascading waterfalls. Additionally, there is a paved bike path adjacent to it.

    Congdon Park has some of the best hiking in Duluth due to its clean and pristine waters

    12. Piedmont Trails

    Piedmont was established in 2007 as a series of intermediate to challenging multi-use trails. There is a total of 9 miles of trail, including 34 hiking trails with 31 of them allowing mountain biking. There are three access points/trailheads to Piedmont: the Hutchinson Road Trailhead, the Haines Rd trailhead, and the Skyline trailhead.

    Piedmont is great for hikers, bikers, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. You can find dense forests, rocky overlooks, and demanding terrain. You can also access the Superior Hiking Trail in Piedmont!

    13. Mission Creek Trails

    Mission Creek is another great multi-use trail system near Duluth just south of Spirit Mountain in the Fon du Lac neighborhood. There are currently 20 miles of trails, including 21 hiking trails with 17 that allow mountain biking. The trails sweep through the valleys and ridges of this remote area, which got its name from an Ojibwe mission.

    The Saint Louis River Trail is a great intermediate hike with a distance of 3.6 miles. It’s an out-and-back from the Chambers Grove trailhead. Feel free to continue at the junction to extend your hike!

    View of Spirit Mountain

    14. Western Waterfront Trail (Waabizheshikana)

    The Western Waterfront Trail also follows along the Saint Louis River! The trail begins across the street from the William Munger trail and follows the river for nine miles. The trail is a nice ten-foot-wide gravel path that sweeps through the natural corridor, residential areas, and marshlands.

    This trail is known as one of the best wildlife-viewing trails in Duluth. It’s popular for birding because hikers have the opportunity to see over 270 species of animals! You can also access this trail from the Lake Superior Zoo from the parking lot on the left.

    15. Grassy Point Trail

    Last but not least, Grassy Point marks the third hike on this list located on the Saint Louis River! It’s located in the Irvington neighborhood in Duluth and was once the spot for coal docks and lumber mills. This wetland area now has a boardwalk great for birding and a boat launch for canoers, making it a fantastic outdoor recreation space!

    Grassy Point Trail is a breathtaking yet short and easy hike through Grassy Point. It follows a wooden boardwalk for a half mile up until an overlook over the wetlands. I completed it in college and was in awe of the natural beauty around me!

    Grassy Point Trail

    FAQs: Best Hiking in Duluth

    Now that we’ve gone over fifteen great hiking trails in Duluth, let’s finish strong with some frequently asked questions on the topic!

    Is Duluth good for hiking?

    Duluth, Minnesota is a hiker’s paradise! Not only are there plenty of fantastic day hike opportunities within the city, but you can also drive a few hours up the shore for additional spectacular hiking!

    What is the hardest part of the Superior Hiking Trail?

    It’s been said that the Lutsen to Oberg Mountain is the hardest section of the Superior Hiking Trail due to the steepness of the terrain. However, this section encounters the river frequently so it’s also quite beautiful!

    How many hiking trails are in Duluth MN?

    According to AllTrails, there are 41 scenic trails in Duluth, Minnesota. This doesn’t account for unmarked or social trails.

    How long is the Duluth Lakewalk?

    The Duluth Lakewalk is almost eight miles long traversing downtown near Lake Superior. It’s a paved pedestrian path that goes from Bayfront Park to Brighton Beach.

    Trail on the north shore

    Wrapping Up: 15 Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, MN

    Well, there you have it – fifteen of the best hiking trails in Duluth, Minnesota! Duluth is a great place to go hiking because of the beautiful scenery and abundance of trails! Hopefully, this list has provided you with a comprehensive guide to some great places to explore.

    Make sure you go hiking prepared, especially during Minnesota’s winter months! Enjoy the views because northern Minnesota is a place like no other!

    Happy trails!