Mountain bikers and hikers will have a new trail to explore in the Lincoln Park neighborhood this summer.
Spearheaded by the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, better known as COGGS, the approximately 1-mile Craft Connector trail will run from Enger Tower down to North 16th Avenue West. Its location makes it less susceptible to the harsh weather conditions of Duluth and connects the neighborhood to a large network of trails that span the city.
“Basically, it's just connecting desirable places to (each other),” COGGS volunteer Adam Sundberg said.
The main Craft Connector trail will be a two-way route for people on foot, snowshoes, bikes or anything else that’s human-powered.
Duluth’s trails are often heavily impacted by weather, as the mostly clay soil tends to retain water for long periods of time. But the Craft Connector, with its rocky soil and increased wind exposure due to a lack of trees, will likely fare better than Duluth’s other trails, Sundberg said.
A separate, one-way section of the trail may be added later. Like the main trail, it would also be a haven during rain events. The city would have to approve this trail before it could be built.
Sundberg said this trail would be designed to be fun.
“For the recreational experience of a bike ... being able to coast and have some momentum (is great),” he said. “There's kind of some roller-coaster aspects (like) ups and downs.”
The ups and downs serve another purpose: to help shed water. When water pools, the trail can become damaged over time, he said.
Between Enger Tower and 16th Avenue West, the trail will connect to the Duluth Traverse Trail — a nearly 90-mile system that runs from Chambers Grove Park to Lester Park — and to the Superior Hiking Trail.
COGGS chose to add a trail to Lincoln Park as it connects the neighborhood and its businesses to the Duluth Traverse Trail, Sundberg said.
“Enger Tower is (also) such an iconic Duluth landmark that we wanted to continue the trail so people can get from Lincoln Park all the way up to Enger," he said. “Or instead of spending time in Enger, they can come down and get on down … to Lincoln Park.”
COGGS will maintain the Craft Connector, like it does with several other trail routes that diverge from the Duluth Traverse Trail. The city is responsible for maintaining the Duluth Traverse.
At a Lincoln Park neighborhood meeting in February, some people voiced questions about the trail’s road crossings. To slow down bikers, Sundberg said the trails will have sharp turns or other trail features located right before the road.
Construction on the trail will start and be completed this summer; an exact timeline isn’t yet known.
COGGS, which raises money through memberships, corporate sponsorships and fundraising events, is funding the trail's construction.
Creating a trail starts with a hike to locate interesting rock features that the trail will include, as well as wet areas to avoid. When a path is determined, it's brought to the city for approval.
The Craft Connector trail was approved several years ago in the Duluth Traverse Mini Master Plan, Sundberg said. That plan was also subject to an environmental assessment.
“We know that it's not going to be interfering with any environmentally sensitive species,” he said.
After all approvals are granted, trail construction begins. Trails can be built with hand tools that cut away the top layer of grass and roots to reveal the mineral layer of soil. Or, a contractor can use mini-excavators to move and shape dirt.
A gala on Saturday, March 14, will raise money for COGGS. More information is available at coggs.com.
This story originally misstated future plans for the possible one-way section of the trail. It was updated at 1:15 p.m. March 11. The city will have to approve the trail section before it can be built. The News Tribune regrets the error.