The “rogue trail” in Duluth’s Central Park in the April 28 article, “Illegal bike trail construction in Duluth raises concerns,” has long been known in the Duluth mountain-bike community as “The Dirty Needle.” This trail evolved over many years at the hands and under the wheels of many members of the community. This trail existed with jumps, berms, and manicured rock gardens well before the Duluth Traverse trail was popularized. This community-held secret trail was looked at as an unofficial trail that could be ridden in the early spring before sanctioned trails could be ridden.
The reason the trail is called “The Dirty Needle” is because of long-standing and abandoned homeless camps in the area. There were some large piles of garbage and other man-built structures that were cleaned up by the builders of this “rogue trail.”
This littered area called Central Park has been a problem for many years and has been knowingly neglected by the city and the Duluth Parks and Recreation Department. To have the story refer to what the trail builders did there as “devastating” left a lot unsaid. While some people may find bike trails to be a blight on the land, they are much more welcome than large piles of trash.
The city has long known about these issues and has done little to clean up or deal with them. For the city or anyone else to suggest these trail builders are criminals is simply unfair. While the building and riding is illegal, the larger impact to the environment has been positive.
The article did not seem to reach out to any of the builders for comment.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
The writer lived in Duluth for 10 years before moving to Canada in August 2019.