The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday announced the long-awaited official designation of the St. Louis River National Estuary Water Trail in Duluth and Superior.

The designation gives formal federal status to a water trail that’s been long planned and already mapped in the world’s largest freshwater estuary.

The trail covers 16.5 miles of the St. Louis River shoreline and over 12,000 acres and sports 11 distinct routes that cover 73 miles.

The designation was part of a broader national announcement Thursday that establishes 30 new national recreation trails in 25 states, adding more than 1,275 miles to the National Trails System.

“I encourage Americans to get outside, enjoy our incredible public lands and visit a nearby national recreation trail. Spanning more than 83,000 miles, larger than the interstate highway system, the National Trails System provides easy access to a wide variety of outdoor experiences,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt, in a statement.

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The National Recreation Trails Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with a number of federal and nonprofit partners, including the St. Louis River Alliance in the Twin Ports.

The News Tribune wrote about the new water trail in August. For more information, go to stlouisriver.org/national-water-trail or call 218-733-9520.