Duluth Trails Open After Freeze/Thaw, No Plans to Close Beaches So Far

Walkers, runners and bikers flock to their favorite trails.

DULUTH, Minn.- Just in time for the nice weather, Duluth Parks and Recreation announced that most of the city’s multi-use natural surface trails are now open after being closed due to wet conditions.

“It’s been a long time coming this spring,” said Parks and Rec Trail Cooridinator Matt Andrews. “We’ve all been patiently waiting for these trails to open up.

Since March, the trails were closed for a few weeks during their annual freeze/thaw cycle.

“And it took a few extra weeks especially for the trails that are tucked away deep in the woods, they’re shielded from the sun and don’t get much wind and really protected,” Andrews said.

While they are mostly completely dry, Andrews said there is still the potential for a heavy rain event to close them for a short time. Users should keep watch of the DuluthParksMN Facebook page for updates.

“These trails are sensitive to any wet conditions,” he said, “so if we get a significant rain they might close for up to a 24 hour period.”

Most bikers, like Cord Salemla, understood the need to keep the trails healthy. “It was good that we kept them closed, we gotta keep them in shape,” he said.

But now that they’re open, walkers, runners, and bikers rejoice to have their outdoor homes back. “Feels fantastic,” said biker Eric Bohjanen, “this is why we live here.”

Salemla was “super, super jacked” to get his wheels moving again. “I think Duluth is a big hiking town and everyone’s happy once you can hit the pedals and you’re on the nice dirt, finally.”

From easy to advanced, they are leaving no trail untouched.

“Some people like really technical and root-y and rocky, and some people like it smooth and fast and flow-y,” said Bohjanen.

“Hawk Ridge is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of rocks to kind of play on, and boulders and things to kind of dodge and keep you busy. And a beautiful view of the lake. Can’t complain about that,” he said.

Officials reminded trail-users that social distance guidelines don’t go out the window when the weather’s nice.

“Especially this year in light of COVID people are itching to get outside and so what we don’t want to see is our trails being overwhelmed,” said Andrews.

Bikers like Salemla said they don’t feel at risk when they’re out among nature.

“I saw someone far away back there, they turned off the side and kind of turned their back away and I felt really safe being on the trails here,” he said.

But as summer approaches, so does the risk for a different outdoor spot–beaches–to become overcrowded as it has in other states.

“It seems like with not being able to go out and go places that people are doing some outdoor activities,” said beach-goer Cade Shea. “So I think it could be a possibility that people come here.”

Beaches in Douglas County are open only to county residents. But in Duluth no plans like that have been decided yet. “For right now they are open, available for people to use,” Andrews said.

With limited staff this summer, the Trails Coordinator said, safety on the shore is up to you.

“We’re really going to rely on people to do their best to social distance and respect the guidelines.”

But Duluthians are confident that they can keep their treasured beaches safe and fun. “You’d think that people would social distance with this whole thing and how bad it is,” said Shea. “It’d be kind of a shame if they did close because the beaches are beautiful during the summer.”

Those beautiful outdoor scenes are the silver lining for many once these dark times clear up.

“It really just feels good to be back out in the woods,” Andrews said.

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