Up North: Duluth community celebrates expansion of River Route Trail

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: October 21, 2020 10:50 PM

In a large and spread out city like Duluth, sometimes communities on different ends of town can feel disconnected.

That's why the Friends of Western Duluth Parks and Trails (FWDPT) put their helmets together to find a way to better connect the local biking community.

They settled on filling a gap in the Cross City Trail by completing segment two of the River Route.

"It's [meant] to be ADA accessible for all ages and to connect both sides of Duluth. Ultimately, we'll connect to the Gitchi Gummi trail, and the Canadian border, so it's pretty significant," said Mike Casey, chair of FWDPT.

The new 2.4 mile stretch begins at Carlton Avenue in western Duluth, it's old ending point, and finishes at Spirit Valley's Irving Park. 

"I think this is moving Duluth even further forward [to] being a really bike friendly, bike forward community," said Northland bicyclist Doug Young, who rode the expanded trail last Saturday. "It's opening up more of the community to be bicycle accessible. You'll be able to commute and recreate and go to amenities via the ever expanding bike system."

The $1.9 million dollar project was approved by the City of Duluth in January, 2020. However, Cross City first introduced plans for it in the 1970s, but were met with financial hurdles.

The long awaited path now runs under the Bong Bridge, alongside the ore docks, and near the Verso Paper Mill. The 10-foot wide blacktop trail is accessible to all who want to explore it. 

"It's walkable, it's bikeable [and] it's rollable for people with disabilities to be able to use, and get out, and explore. Explore the city a little bit on foot [with] no need for a car or for a parking spot," said Casey.

Young added, "it's great having this segment open. It's come a long way, it used to be just a primitive path. It's wonderful to have it open and accessible to folks. I think it's going to be great for families of all ages."

FWDPT, along with We Walk in Duluth, Duluth Bikes, and the Zeitgeist celebrated it's completion by hosting a Walk, Roll or Bike the River Route event. It's to invite everyone to experience the recently finished segment.

But Casey said the work isn't done yet. FWDPT's next task is to promote Segment 6, which would connect Irving Park to the head of Munger Trail below Grand Ave. 

"I mean, we're the great outdoor city so why not do this," Casey said.

Walk, Roll or Bike the River Route runs through Friday. It's also part of the Zeitgeist's Bus Bike Walk month. The series of community events are usually held in May to encourage alternate modes of transportation. This year they were postponed to October.

Through Friday people using the trail can submit pictures online to Cross City Trail for a chance to win prizes. To submit a picture, or for more information, click here.


Alicia Tipcke

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