Two grants for Duluth outdoor recreation

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It was an exciting Wednesday for outdoor recreation in Duluth. A couple big grants were announced.

Both Spirit Mountain and the Duluth Traverse Trail will benefit. Spirit is expecting $1.25 million, and the Duluth Traverse should get more than $160,000.

The grants come from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. Spirit’s money is slated to be used for expanding the snowmobile, mountain bike, and Nordic ski trails.

Erik Blow, outdoor operations manager at Spirit Mountain, said they will add another Nordic ski loop that will connect the Grand Ave. system to the upper trails.

"Having that connector is huge," Blow said. "That takes us from what will be around 3k down here (at Grand Ave.) and then adding that connector to our upper 22, you know, that will take us up close to 30 kilometers of trail."

He said it opens doors to host more events and create better opportunities to ski in the early and late season.

The grant will also provide money for another pump for snowmaking.

There will also be mountain biking trail improvements:

  • Adding blue and black downhill trails
  • Improving skills park
  • Rebuilding Candyland Knowlton Trail

Another almost $168,000 will fund a mobile mountain bike fleet and programming on the Duluth Traverse.

"What that means is that we’ll be able to purchase a couple of trailers and a set of mountain bikes to include standard mountain bikes, balance bikes, and recumbent trikes, so that we can get more kids out on the Duluth Traverse mountain bike trails," Duluth Parks and Recreation Manager Jessica Peterson said.

She said they want to make outdoor recreation possible for underserved youth, especially since mountain biking can be an expensive sport to get into.

"(The Duluth Traverse) was designated in part because it connects communities together," Peterson said. "But we also know that there are kids in our community who still don’t have access to enjoy the Duluth Traverse."

The Minnesota legislature still has to give final approval of the funds.