A mid-week urban multi-terrain adventure.

Today it felt like I was waking to a Universe that drastically changed overnight. Yesterday was election day. Today people felt unsure about so many things in our country and the world. Regardless of who you voted for, this is a big gamble on our future together.

For me, I had the day off from my day job. When this happens I work on my eCommerce website I started. Today I was having a hard time focusing. I ended up just turning it all off. The media, I mean. After awhile I was able to calm my thoughts and get some work done.

We are in the middle of one of the warmest Novembers in recorded history. We’re seeing temps 20 and 30 degrees above average. We tied a record high temp last Friday and broke 100 year old records on Saturday and Sunday with 70F/21C degrees both days. Crazy warm for us. Today was all sunshine and 60F/16C degrees. So of course I took the afternoon to get in a bike ride. Today I chose to ride the Pugsley. I have been spotting some more new Duluth mtb trails along the Munger Trail at Mission Creek. My general idea was to head in that direction and check out the trails. The trails are located about 8 miles to the west of where I live. Leaving at 2:30 I thought for sure I’d be home before dark. So I didn’t take any lights. Later in the day I was having so much fun and enjoying the day I barely made it home before dark. Almost 3 hours later.


It wasn’t intentional, but I realized just before the end of the ride that the route I took only included two miles of paved roads. The first and last mile. I rode 24 miles, 100% within the city limits of Duluth. Twenty-two of those miles was mixed terrain. It included multi-purpose recreational trails, old ATV trails (ATV use is now banned in the city), gravel roads, mtb singletrack trails, an abandoned parkway, abandoned rail corridor, and even a short hike-a-bike through the woods. I estimate I rode 5 miles of new, and new to me, beautiful singletrack trails. I never get lost, but today I was momentarily not sure exactly where I was at one point. That was how remote it felt. Once I left the paved roads in my neighborhood I maybe saw a dozen people at most. This is all within the city of Duluth. I love this place. Here’s a link to the route I took.

Gravel on western Skyline Parkway.
The best part about the leaves being gone is the all-day views when riding a ridge.
Weird, green grass on November 9th.

This is a new section of mtb trails along the old Mission Creek Parkway. They must have put down some seeds for erosion control. It was growing like it was early Spring. This time of year the ground should be starting to freeze up and nothing should be alive. It was weird, weird, weird.

I loved the new Mission Creek trails. For several reasons. There’s lots of flowing “easy” trails. Not a lot of roots or rocks. The other reason is the remote feeling of the area. Mission Creek flows down through a deep ravine that is eroding away. But it’s heavily wooded. The new trails snake up and down through the ravine. It’s really masterful trail building. With the leaves off the trees you can see distant hillsides towering above the ravine. It almost feels like you’re in the mountains. Real mountain biking here in the Midwest.

All that’s left of the old Mission Creek Parkway in places is this old ATV trail.

I don’t know all the history of the old Parkway. But I believe it was a parkway that ran through the ravine connecting the western end of Skyline Parkway to the Fond du Lac neighborhood. There are still about a half dozen or so deteriorating stone arch bridges along the route. It was at this point when I came across the parkway that I was momentarily turned around in my direction finding. I also was concerned about getting back home without lights before dark. I knew the parkway would take me out. So I left the trails and rode up the old parkway. It required two creeks crossings, but it was warm enough I wasn’t too concerned with getting a foot wet or falling in.

A short hike-a-bike up to the DWP rail corridor.

After a few miles on the Munger State Trail I decided to bushwack my way up hill to the old abandoned DWP rail corridor. It runs parallel to the Munger and up the hill from it. It has a very cool tunnel cut through Ely’s Peak. I wouldn’t need to go through the tunnel today. I would be going in the opposite direction. Eventually this rail corridor will be improved and paved with crushed rock as part of the massive trail system being put in around Duluth. This is supposed to include the tunnel.

The DWP rail corridor.
The DWP rail corridor.
The DWP rail corridor.
Train trestle on the DWP rail corridor.

Crossing this train trestle always freaks me out. It crosses over a deep ravine. The cross beams are 3 or 4 inches apart and you can see down to the creek below. They are a bit rough to ride even on a fatbike. So I usually walk my bike over it. I get a bit of vertigo crossing it.

A view over the edge of the trestle looking down into the ravine.

Not long after you cross the trestle you reach the ski slopes of Spirit Mountain. The DWP crosses right through the ski hills. I had a nice surprise when I reached the east side of the ski resort. More new mountain bikes trails! About one mile of new trail between the ski resort and the zoo. It is absolutely crazy how many miles of beautiful new single track was built this summer alone. A month ago I was casually thinking for the first time in my life I might like to have a mountain bike. Now I think it will happen once I have the money.

New trails behind the zoo.

What started out as a little afternoon spin on my Pugsley turned into a mini-adventure right in my own backyard. It was exactly what I needed to get my mind off the political overload and stress I’ve been feeling from this election.

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