The people have spoken — well, at least 116 of them who are among my Facebook friends.
With company coming to visit recently, I had put out a Facebook request for suggestions on where we should go to show off our city. Natural spots, primarily, not restaurants or attractions. I knew plenty of spots but thought maybe I was overlooking some good ones.
The responses were wonderful and a bit overwhelming — waterfalls and rocky headlands, sandy beaches and swimming holes, grand vistas and intimate trails. We live in an amazing city with far more natural attractions than you could show a visitor in a week, maybe two.
Here, in loose ranking by popularity, are the places my Facebook friends suggested. I’ve visited all of them and can vouch for their appeal.
Enger Tower/Enger Park — Clearly, the crowd favorite. An iconic Duluth landmark at 16th Avenue West and Skyline Parkway in the heart of the city. Focal point is an American-Japanese Peace Bell, a gift from Duluth’s sister city of Ohara-Isumi, Japan. Lovely gardens, too.
Minnesota Point (Park Point) — It’s part of the world’s longest freshwater sandspit, and the view of the Duluth hillside from here is a classic. Many readers also suggested the trail that goes beyond the Sky Harbor Airport all the way to Superior Entry. (Watch for poison ivy.)
Skyline Parkway — This ribbon of road weaves through nearly all of Duluth high on the hillside above the waterfront and Lake Superior, affording magnificent views. Just follow the signs.
Aerial Lift Bridge and Duluth Ship Canal — A must to give visitors a sense of scale for our lake and harbor. Check the web for ship arrivals and departures.
Brighton Beach — Just east of Lester River on the big lake, a great place for picnics, wading or swimming in Lake Superior, sitting on warm rocks, watching waves roll in and ships pass.
Lakewalk — So obvious, we hardly need mention it. Though some portions of this 7.5-mile walkway are under construction due to storm damage, this boardwalk/asphalt path is still the best way to get close to the lake. Access from Canal Park, downtown and points east. Info at visitduluth.com.
Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve — Excellent vistas of the lake any time from this high vantage point along Skyline Parkway in eastern Duluth. Best from mid-September through October when thousands of migrating raptors ride hillside thermals on their southbound journeys. (Go to hawkridge.org).
Tischer Creek Hiking Trail — Several readers suggested this city trail along a lively stream with numerous waterfalls between Vermilion Road (near Mount Royal shopping center) all the way down to Superior Street. (Try it in winter on snowshoes, too.)
Chester Park/Chester Creek Trail — Another scenic walk along a dancing stream through the heart of the city. From Chester Bowl, a kid-friendly park on Skyline Parkway, down to East Fourth Street.
Leif Erikson Park — A popular Duluth green space right on Lake Superior and just off the Lakewalk between 10th and 12th avenues east.
Rose Garden — Adjacent to Leif Erikson Park along London Road, in summer this park is on olfactory delight, abloom with roses of many varieties.
Superior Hiking Trail — This amazing trail runs for 310 miles from the Wisconsin border, then along Minnesota’s North Shore to near the Canadian border. About 41 miles of it pass through Duluth, with a couple of loop trails (Ely’s Peak, 1.8 miles round trip; Brewer Park, 4.6 miles) in the city. Details at superiorhiking.org.
Seven Bridges Road and Amity Creek — Take your choice: Drive up this historic winding road (start on Occidental Avenue from east Superior Street), stop to swim in the falls near the top bridge, or walk on up an old roadway along upper Amity Creek.
Lester River/Lester Park — Hike it. Mountain bike the Lester River portion of the Duluth Traverse, which will eventually cross all of Duluth. Swim in the river. Ski the cross-country ski trails under the lights (or the moonlight) in winter. Kid-friendly park with a playground.
Bagley Nature Area — Fifty-nine acres of woods with a pond in the middle. See the ducks. Hike, run or ski the trails. The trail is maintained by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Spectacular in the fall.
Rock Knob, Hartley Park — Another high point with a view of the lake in this popular and woodsy 660-acre city park in the Woodland neighborhood. Park offers excellent hiking and mountain biking, with a pond to ponder, too.
Western Waterfront Trail — An 8-foot-wide gravel path accessible to all, according to the city of Duluth, which maintains this nearly 5-mile path along the St. Louis River estuary. Excellent birding opportunities. Access from 7300 Grand Ave.
So much more — Beyond the city itself, readers suggested nearby state parks (Jay Cooke and Gooseberry in Minnesota, Amnicon and Pattison Park in Wisconsin; Wisconsin Point in Superior; Palisade Head near Silver Bay).
Thanks to my Facebook friends for all of these suggestions.