After an unseasonably warm start to last week, this week ended with a return to reality with freezing rain and snow. It's a reminder that winter is indeed coming and that transition also means outdoor enthusiasts will have to temporarily refrain from using some of Duluth's trails.

The City of Duluth Parks and Recreation division announced this week that in collaboration with the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) and the Cyclists o Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS), they have closed all natural surface (dirt) trails due to the annual fall freeze-thaw cycle until further notice.

This is because overnight below-freezing temperatures combined with daytime above-freezing temperatures create wet and vulnerable soil conditions that can damage trails if they continued to be used. They also remind everyone to avoid these trails if the soil is damp or muddy.

“If you see footprints or bike tire ruts in the underlying dirt, then it’s best to turn around and and find a different outdoor recreation opportunity,” Matt Andrews, Parks and Recreation Trails Coordinator, said. “Until everything is frozen solid, the trails are highly vulnerable to damage, which could create erosion on the trails when the snow melts next spring.”

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The City of Duluth Parks and Recreation division wants to remind the public that there are winter trail use opportunities. Gravel surface trails will remain open throughout winter, including the Duluth Winnipeg Pacific (DWP) Trail and Waabizheshikana (formerly Western Waterfront Trail).

However, while the trails are open, they will not be plowed. Paved surface trails that include the Campus Connector Trail, Lakewalk, and Cross-City Trail, are cleared of snow and will open regardless of weather conditions.

The City anticipates fully reopening natural surface trails once surface conditions allow
and the ground has completely frozen.

People are encouraged to check updated conditions and learn more about the City of Duluth’s trails online through the natural surface trails page.

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