Duluth's outdoor culture is a huge draw for people moving to the area. Maybe it factored it into your college decision. But between studying, eating and sleeping on campus, it's easy to get stuck in the college bubble.
Don't forget to get some fresh air every once and awhile. There are plenty of wooded trails within walking distance of the local colleges, so take advantage of them. Your school's outdoor program might be a good start and could help connect you with others interested in day hikes or weekend camping trips. In the meantime, head outside and get started on this list.
Hiking, jogging and snowshoeing trails
With access off Woodland Avenue and Arrowhead Road, Hartley Nature Center, boasts miles of single-track trail, forests, wetlands and rock outcroppings. And the University of Minnesota Duluth's Bagley Nature Center, just across Arrowhead from Hartley, is lined with wood-chip trails and offers a commanding view of Duluth and Lake Superior at the top of Rock Hill.
Both Chester Park, located between UMD and The College of St. Scholastica, and Congdon Park, on the opposite side of Mount Royal from UMD, have trails running parallel along rivers full of waterfalls and cliffs.
The Miller Creek Interpretive Trail, by Lake Superior College, is less than a mile long but has 14 spots of ecologic interest along the way. Trail maps are available at lsc.edu.
From the University of Wisconsin-Superior, it's a straight shot down Belknap Street to the Osaugie Trail, which runs along the waterfront. Landmarks on the path include the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center and the S.S. Meteor Whaleback Ship Museum.
These parks aren't seasonal. During the winter, the snow-covered trails are packed down for walking, jogging, snowshoeing and fat-tire bike riding while Nordic ski trails are groomed in parts of Chester, Bagley and Hartley.
Parts of Duluth's famed Lakewalk are still roughed up from storm damage last year, but it's still worth a trip down to the lake to see what all the fuss is about. While it's still warm out, you can buy an ice cream cone out of an old gas station, the Portland Malt Shoppe, or a fish burger out of an old boat, Lakewalk Galley. However, things get really interesting after the tourists leave and the storms rise. Just be careful out there; the waves have been known to throw rocks.
Duluth is now a destination for mountain bikers. With trail systems throughout the city, almost all linked by the 40-mile long Duluth Traverse, you're never too far from a single-track shared use trail.
The closest two sections of the Traverse are in Chester Park and Hartley Park.
Check out your school's outdoor program or stop by a local bike shop for bike rentals.
If you'd prefer a leisurely bicycle ride on flat pavement, head down to the Munger Trail, a paved trail on the western side of the city that heads toward Jay Cooke State Park, or the Lakewalk, a paved trail that heads east from Canal Park to Lester Park. The Cross City Trail through Lincoln Park and other western neighborhoods will connect the two once complete.
If you plan on swimming in Lake Superior, you better hop in soon. Water temperature will drop and won't bounce back up by spring finals. It's not unheard of to still have ice chunks on the lake in May.
Park Point Beach
Park Point, the longest freshwater sandbar in the world, is a good place to start. After driving across the Aerial Lift Bridge from Canal Park, follow South Lake Avenue until you reach a bend in the road. You can access the water there, the 12th Street Beach, or continue along Minnesota Avenue for about five miles until you reach Park Point Recreation Area, which boasts beach house, volleyball courts and other amenities. Just don't have a bonfire on the beach - that's illegal.
Fires are, however, allowed on Wisconsin Point in Superior. In fact, their mayor even encourages it. Wisconsin point is a 35-minute drive from Duluth campuses, about 19 minutes from UWS. To get there, pass through Superior on Highway 53 and take a left on Moccasin Mike Road before the road turns into four lanes.
Unlike Park Point and Wisconsin Point, Brighton Beach is covered in stone, not sand.
It's a great place to watch waves crash along the shore during the gales of November (and if you're lucky, surfers) or skip rocks when the water calm. To get there, head east on London Road until you cross Lester River, then keep along the shore when the road splits.
Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
It might feel like winter is a long ways away, but it's coming. And in Duluth, it stays around awhile. Unless you want to spend the entire school year indoors, you better embrace it.
Spirit Mountain is the largest and most popular ski hill in town, and as a college student you have access to special season pass rates.
Chester Park has a single chairlift, a small downhill run and a modest terrain park. But it's a convenient hill if you don't want to make the drive out to Spirit Mountain. With its proximity to UMD and CSS, it's not uncommon to see students carrying their skis and snowboards down the street toward the park.
Mont du Lac Resort
Mont Du Lac Resort in Wisconsin also offers skiers, snowboarders and tubers access to slopes and a terrain park.