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Upper Chester: Not so fast there people!

Duluth took a beating this past year. But thanks to everyone pulling together we’ve made a remarkable comeback. For proof, you don’t have to look any further than Chester Park. Thanks to the indefatigable Dan Proctor and others the Lower Chester trails are probably in better shape than they were before the floods of June, and that’s saying a lot considering the scope of the mudflows and washouts that ravaged pretty much every inch of the ravine.

Upper Chester, however, is another story. Despite good intentions, there’s been a lot of jumping the gun to clean up or improve things that one could make the argument has ended up doing more harm than good. I’m not going to run down the list, but the latest chapter seems to have taken place largely under the radar, and I think it deserves a public airing.

I’m talking about what the City of Duluth and the St. Scholastica Ski Team are calling the “Chester Ski Trail Reroute.” In an email I received last month these folks put out a call for volunteers to help “cut trees and brush to reroute the ski trail in Chester Park.” It was work they described as “necessary due to damage caused to the trails by the June flash flood.” Just the words “cut trees” should have been enough to set off alarm bells after the Great Chester Trout Stream Deforestation debacle of last summer (I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t run down the list). But I thought no way will that happen again. Well, apparently it has. Just beyond the washed out bridge at the soccer field the CSS Ski Team has clear-cut a monster swath up the hillside to create a bizarre double dogleg that has even other local skiers scratching their heads about what the f**k they were thinking.

Apparently they thought the bridge was going to be relocated. Word is now that it isn’t. Whatever is/was being planned here, it’s clear that a really big cart has been shoved out ahead of the horse. And so now we’ve got the opposite of a bridge to nowhere (they’ve created somewhere with no bridge) and a big ugly scar in place of trees and other vegetation that provided some pretty crucial stream bank erosion control (see top photo). So what’s up with all this? I’m hearing a lot of scuttlebutt, theories and dark muttering. I’d love to hear from the horses’ mouths.

City of Duluth: What happened here? Why does this keep happening? Why such a rush (again!) to fire up the chainsaws in Chester Park (removing deadfall and storm damage is one thing, cutting healthy trees for ski trails that can’t even be used until a bridge is replaced is another)? For that matter, why is so much effort being put into maintaining ski trails in Upper Chester? I know a ton of really good local skiers and none of them EVER ski here because it’s so short and technical. Based on my own observations, I’d say hikers and runners outnumber skiers at least ten to one in Upper Chester; so why not emphasize hiking and snowshoeing instead of spending so much time and treasure grooming for such a small and elite minority? Or at least designate these trails for shared use in the winter (non skiers only need a little room along one side) instead of shutting out one of the largest and most consistent user groups of the park. Why not start with a simple census that will prove me right or wrong?

College of St. Scholastica Ski Team and Duluth Ski Club: What is your agenda in Upper Chester? Why so much zeal to create such expansive trails (you could run several groomers side by side up the “reroute to nowhere” you’ve hacked out)? Do you really believe, as some are saying, that this tiny park can be developed into a world-class cross-country ski racing destination or venue? Is this really where you want to concentrate your efforts and potentially squander your goodwill? The grumbling I’m hearing out there from people is not good. Really.

Chester Park Walkers and Runners: Why don’t you speak up? Why don’t you go to public meetings, investigate and comment on the park’s Master Plan, or communicate with city officials to at least let them know that you’re out there, day after day, leisurely enjoying what is one of the crown jewels of Duluth’s park system. You’re the only ones who aren’t in a rush and you’ve been silent too long. I know I have.

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35 Comment(s)

  1. Chester could easily become a world class venue! There is no question that it has the terrain to hold world cup cross country, Nordic combined, and possibly even biathlon events. The question is where is the planning, the community drive, the local support for such an endeavor. It is not there. It should be.

    If we are going to make this dream a reality, it has to be a team effort, not just some rouge bandits, making an uncoordinated effort.

    Let’s be a team!

    skimore | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  2. Yes, it is unfortunate that the new trail hasn’t turned out like they hoped, yet. But like skimore said, it could become a world-class venue. Many good skiers go there because of the technicality and difficulty of the trails.

    svenski | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  3. I have no idea of the validity of the idea to turn upper Chester into a “world class” venue, but I do know this: Chester Park is a public park, supported by Duluth taxpayers, to be enjoyed by all — no matter what is worn on their feet. I for one am sick of the Duluth Ski Club “taking over” the park every winter, telling people where they can and cannot walk — and getting yelled at by self-rightous skiiers. I for one plan to keep walking through upper Chester all winter, whether the paths are groomed or not.

    As for CSS: Excuse me? Doesn’t CSS have a huge campus backed by hundreds if not thousands of acres of woods? Why can’t they turn that into their course?

    If CSS and the DSC want to “own” upper Chester during the winter, they should pay a rental fee for exclusive use of the park.

    Another point: these two groups have cut down trees without permission. My back yard butts up against Chester Park. If I cut down a tree outside my property line, I would be fined. So just who is allowing the DSC and CSS to change the landscape of the park to their liking? Why aren’t their actions being criminally investigated? It’s defacement of a public park, isn’t it?

    I fully supported the DSC in its efforts to save the historic ski jumps, and appreciate the good things the organization has done for the park over the past 100 years, but this hostile takeover of the park and the cries to put the dams and pond back in place seems very selfish to me.

    Tony D. | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  4. Groomed city cross-country ski trails have been closed to walkers and hikers as long as I can remember. This includes: Chester, Lester, Hartley, Piedmont and Magny-Snively.

    As far as I know, the Duluth Ski Club has little to do with the cross-country trails. The club’s focus has been the downhill skiing at Chester and the ski jumps.

    The newer, completely separate, Duluth Cross Country Ski club was not involved as far as I know.

    I have heard rumors that the Chester Bowl Improvement club has approached the local mountain bike club about adding some single track to Chester for the purpose of giving hikers, bikers and snowshoes someplace to go other than the groomed ski trails.

    Shane | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  5. Here is a link to a draft of the Chester master plan document, dated September 2012. It includes multi-use trails as well as new or improved cross-country trails, including lights. From my understanding, this does not mean this is what’s happening, just what’s being considered. The last Mini-Master plan open house for the public for Chester was Sept. 27.

    brian | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  6. Shane --

    As an avid year-round hiker/snowshoer and resident of the Chester Park area, I’ve never heard that groomed ski trails are “closed” to hikers or snowshoeing! Rules or guidelines I’m familiar with say that non-skiing users of the groomed trails should stay off the tracks, moving to the sides.

    I am a frequent non-skiing user of all trails in Chester Park.

    Terry G. | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Hi neighbors and fellow skiers/walkers/runners,

    A few corrections: the trail re-route shown above was not approved by the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club (DXC) board of directors, on which I serve. DXC is one of many user groups and individuals taking part in the Chester planning process, and that plan has not been completed. I encourage everyone to take a look at the plan and submit comments, if you have not done so already (go to Duluth Parks & Rec website). I believe the current version of the plan includes an XC ski trail and a walking trail.

    DXC does not get to decide where people can ski or walk. Chester has been a cross-country ski trail since before our organization existed (we were founded in 2004). If you think Chester should not be open to XC skiers, tell the Parks & Rec Department and the Parks Commission. It’s part of their job to identify and balance the needs and interests of all users, including skiers and walkers.

    Finally, building a world-class race venue is not currently a goal of DXC, a community-based, nonprofit organizations whose mission is “to support health, fun, and fitness through cross country skiing.” There are certainly skiers in Duluth who would like to build a world-class venue, and perhaps that will happen, but at the moment DXC is busy providing programs and events for youth and adults, working with the city to improve ski trail grooming, and helping to maintain our public ski trails. Check us out at or email us at info @ And come to our Solstice Ski & Bonfire at Lester on Dec. 20!

    Our board president, Tony Shoberg, as well as other skiers, may have more to add to this discussion.


    Anne F.

    PS: DXC is not involved with preserving ski jumps.

    annefluke | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  8. Thanks for the link to the plan (I was too lazy) and for the additional comments/clarifications.

    annefluke | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  9. Thanks, Anne. I don’t think anyone wants to kick cross-country skiers or anyone else out — I know I don’t. Rather, I would guess most of us simply want to share the park with everyone, civilly.

    And without rogue slashing, some of it, apparently, that doesn’t make sense — like the new bridge approach pictured above.

    Tony D. | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Perhaps “closed” was not the correct choice of words. I was referring to the signs at the trailhead that ask hikers to not walk on the groomed ski trails. I cannot recall the exact verbiage of the signs.

    If one is not a skier asking hikers to stay off of the ski trails might seem silly. Take up the sport and you will understand. I used to wonder what all the fuss was, until I took up XC skiing.

    I think that there is room for both user groups on the trails, with a bit of understanding of the requirements of the other group by both user groups.

    Shane | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  11. I’m sorry if I’ve dragged the Duluth Ski Club (or XC Ski Club) unfairly into this issue, but a few days after this “reroute” occurred I heard saws running up on the ridge near Kenwood Avenue and found a large group at work widening the trails, and the people identified themselves as “the Duluth Ski Club.” There was no one from the city present supervising them.

    I have to say, the Master Plan (thanks Brian!) seems to be awfully slanted toward Nordic skiing development (understandable since the rest of us hikers, etc. are unorganized and as I have said, have not made our voices heard). I hope this changes. I still maintain, despite what others have said here, that these ski trails are used by only a very small group of people (you could get seriously hurt here if you don’t know what you’re doing). I just never see more than the odd (not meant pejoratively) individual, and I’m out there almost every day. But winter hikers and runners are legion — although largely confined to Lower Chester during the snowy months due to the feeling that they are not welcome in the upper park.

    Dave P | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  12. I think that Dave P. is on to something as I do recall this autumn speaking with a DXC board member who told me that they were actively widening Chester trails to make it more viable as a venue to host races.

    I thought that DXC had some authority to maintain the ski trails and usually did so with volunteers. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were working on re-routes and some widening.

    There are so many trails in our area: official park trails, rogue built trails, animal trails, SHT, etc. I don’t understand why hikers feel the need to get all aggro and walk on groomed ski trails on an annual basis? If you are so determined to walk in “your” neighborhood then why not cross the street and take advantage of the wonderful paths through CSS?

    digit3 | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Dear Dave P and all,

    This initial piece is so wrought with misinformation and opinion, I simply have to respond.

    First and foremost, the description of the work done on upper Chester makes it appear as though some idiots from St. Scholastica went to upper Chester and raped and pillaged an old growth forest. Dave P clearly holds Dan Proctor in high regard so I will start by addressing the vast majority of brushing done by the CSS ski team, and address the by-pass issue separately.

    The brushing and widening of the ski trail is 20 years overdue. There are several reasons I believe that our ski team is the only group of skiers who use it with any regularity:

    1. Dog poop. Nobody enjoys skiing through it, and the trout stream this “massive cutting” of brush supposedly threatens to destroy is arguably much more polluted by dog feces and urine than by cutting a bunch of scrub brush.

    2. Skier safety. The trail has overgrown its already too-narrow-by-modern-standards width, and as we brushed the trail, we could see sizer scars several feet or more into the woods on either side of the trail, suggesting the trail is already narrow than when we were skiing on wooden skis and bamboo poles.

    Working with the city’s trail liaison through CSS’s community day, we used our community service day to brush back the entire trail system to meet a safe standard by today’s Federation Internationale de Ski standards for a racing trail (which Chester ski trails most definitely are), that will carry skiers at a speed modern equipment will carry them down and up such hills. This is a safety issue.

    Dan Proctor oversaw all this work, and was so happy with the work we did, he gave our skier/workers cookies he baked when we were all done.

    The minimum safety for hills like we ski at Chester is 6 meters wide. 18 feet. Minimum. Thats a fast trail and some of those holls should really be 8 meters wide at apex.

    The DXC trails master-planning group worked with the city of Duluth to bring in the world’s foremost expert in ski-trail design when working on master planning for city-wide advocacy to better and safer ski trails. This was his recommendation. It just needed a work force. It had nothing to do with the storm. It’s what a safe ski trail today should be. On the city’s behalf, CSS skiers donated their time to do so. You can disagree with that decision, but its the city’s decision to make, not Dave P’s, nor the CSS ski team’s, nor DXC’s.

    Which brings me to the next point. The city of Duluth was 100 percent behind and driving the brushing work and the by pass that was cut, which I will get to. As for widening the trails on the whole, not a single native species tree was cut that Dan Proctor himself didn’t oversee or cut himself. In fact, Dan was telling us to cut stuff that I would never had made the call to cut. What was cut widening Chester was 90 percent brush weed, 9 percent Buckthorn, 1 percent young spruce or dead trees of other species Dan called “widow makers.”

    In regards to the bypass, I as the head coach assumed our work with Dan was done after widening the trail as it should be for safe skiing. The bridges were the only necessary piece left to make Chester ski trails usable again. About a month later, the city liaison contacted the DXC trails master planning group for some help on an imminent issue at Chester Bowl. Several of the group were unavailable so I and my assistant coach who was on the DXC board and trails planning group, both volunteered to meet her to discuss the issue. The city liaison had met with the engineers in charge of restoring Chester and was given a very short timeline to create a solution. The timeline to replace the bridge had been moved up to early this winter, and the city was under the gun to meet the deadline. The trails liaison from the city was excited because it meant Chester could be up and running again by this winter for everyone. We were excited too because we like skiing there.

    She was told a replacement bridge was going to have to go where the eventual bypass was cut. She asked us for a consultation as to whether it would work. Neither of us were in love with what the engineer was forcing the city to do about the bridge, but we agreed that her initial path laid out with tape in the woods before we got there, would work with a slight change in her flow, and some pretty significant excavation that would be necessary to make it safe. We were asked if we could provide the manpower to at least brush the path to the new bridge location, which we did with our ski team’s second community service day of the fall.

    I want to underscore here that it was not the city trails liaison driving it. It was the engineer and the timeline for the work to be done.

    The tone of Dave P’s assertions are pretty damning and are an attempt to smear a program with nothing but the best intentions, doing so on emotion and opinion, not with fact and foresight. Further, it is clear that Dave P has no understanding of forest management in his description of what he describes since 90 percent of it was directed by his forestry hero, Dan Proctor.

    This is not my first rodeo, and I think anyone who knows me knows I run the CSS ski team. I am not trying to deflect criticism either. The bridge plan was not the best solution but it was what the city trail liaison was being directed to do. The brushing we did is common practice for a ski trail so there is absolutely nothing there that I will even attempt to deflect. I simply wanted to present what actually happened in a factual manner.

    If Dave P or anyone wants to paint me as a skiing zealot, go ahead, but get your facts straight before you do it. This is par for the course with the blogosphere — post something that is pure conjecture and misinformation and pass it off as editorial journalism. Anyone who thinks I would allow blades being wielded around a city park without the express consent of those in charge of the land, doesn’t know me very well.

    No effort I am aware of is being made to make Chester Bowl a world-class ski racing facility. Many in the community would like to ski on it more often under safer and cleaner conditions. It would be great to host some college races there in the future — not on the county forfeited land behind the CSS campus that is untouchable. (The fact is CSS has used almost every last inch of the land it owns). The fact few people ski there should highlight for everyone how simply “taking over” a situation actually works. It is actually and always has been a ski trail. It has become a walking trail out of neglect by the city to make it the safe, awesome, best ski trail in the city that it should be. Further, it works better for people who want to walk there if it is wider, but the fact still remains, it is a ski trail. Making it so again is not a felony. It’s simply wise.

    Chad Salmela | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  14. Just back from a walk at Chester (not enough snow for skiing! FYI I forwarded this discussion to our colleagues at Duluth Parks & Recreation in case they have information to add or want to respond to the post and comments.

    annefluke | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Chad,

    First of all, I thank you for responding and sharing your perspective on this. It is what I asked for, after all. You’ve certainly answered my questions in terms of the CSS Ski Team’s agenda and involvement.

    I do disagree with you that my original post was wrought with misinformation. My opinion? Definitely, no argument with you there; and you’ve also expressed yours quite clearly. But I see little to nothing in your comment that contradicts the facts of this unfortunate episode as I laid them out — colored as they may have been by my opinion.

    The fact is, the city has allowed another section of parkland around Chester Creek to be cleared, seemingly without thinking it through (your explanation of pushy engineers and forced deadlines makes this seem even more egregious). I want that to stop. And I’d still like to hear the city’s version of these events.

    P.S. I do agree with you that Dan Proctor is a hero. Common ground — a basis for moving the communication forward!

    Dave P | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  16. The trail is pretty wet and squishy below the bridge as of today. I’d advise against doing a whole lot of walking or hiking on the trail til it either dries up or freezes over. Crampons and/or yak trax should be avoided, too.

    First big snowfall, I’ll be out tramping the trails in snowshoes. | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Further, if you take issue with anything that has transpired regarding the issue above, take it up with the owner of the land, the city of Duluth. DXC is stewarding ski-trail initiatives, and quite well I might add. Trying to give DXC a black eye of any sort because you don’t like trail management, is barking up the wrong tree. The main thing DXC did in this instance was partner with the city to highlight a best-practice plan for re-invigorating the Chester Bowl ski trail to its original use. The action was taken by the city with the work being done by CSS Ski Team. I just wanted to make that clear.

    chadsalmela | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  18. Dave P. Agreed. I understand your concern. Chester is going to be a hot button. Everyone sees it the way they see it. It is a city park and all should be able to use it. The ski trails are an absolute gem that have been left to decay as a ski trail and turn into the trail you walk on. The brushing done will increase skier use. I don’t think that has to mean people need to quit walking in Chester. I think that’s what the master plan is meant to do — address all user groups.

    The bridge thing was the city’s attempt to get the trail back to use as it was being used. The brushing in general had nothing to do with the bridge. The bridge is unfortunate, and I don’t see any person or entity setting out to do something wrong. I think that is important to keep in mind. The cutting of the bypass is unfortunate, but it was still almost entirely brushing. Most of Germany’s forests look like that bypass. I’m not saying that it is right, I just don’t think it will be as devastating to the forest as you are implying. Brush grows back fast. The ski trails around the city prove it.

    And Dan is a hero.

    chadsalmela | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  19. Thank you for your words Chad. They are so true.

    There are too many trails in this country that have been designed and constructed for skiing, but slowly deteriorate to nothing more than hiking paths. Then, when a group with good intentions, and a hard work ethic tries to restore them, after they’ve been neglected for 20 years, they are often met with opposition. It is unfair to the workers, and the resource.

    Don’t people realize that it was skiers who created these trails? It is skiers (or mountain bikers) who maintain these trails? How many who regularly use this trail have ever helped maintain it? My guess is very few, other than maybe tossing a stick off into the woods. In my humble opinion, if you are not donating funds, time, or physically helping to maintain your local trail, you should not be using it. Chester has quite a bit of area without maintained trail, so please feel free to crawl through the brush. I’m not afraid to pat myself on the back, and everyone else who has helped maintain these and all trails. Thank you!

    skimore | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  20. The trail is also littered with shortcuts and switchbacks, particularly up the ravine on the lower end of the creek. This adds to the problem by contributing to erosion. | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  21. Really? ” . . . nothing more than hiking paths.”

    Don’t be so quick to pat yourself on the back for trail maintenance, Skimore. I don’t know about about clearing brush, but you’re certainly digging a hole for yourself. I can assure you that there are many hikers out there helping to maintain the trails.

    Hiking and skiing are both great sports. One may be a little more flashy than the other, but they are both about getting out there, enjoying the environment, and becoming more physically fit.

    “If you are not donating funds, time, or physically helping to maintain your local trail, you should not be using it.” Again, really?!

    WWSS! What Would Santa Say! I suspect there would be a furrowed brow as he looks over the naughty list!

    801lorax | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  22. Dear Dave P & others,

    *These are my opinions and not those of DXC/CSS/or city of Duluth, just someone who loves Chester and skiing through the woods.

    Skiing at Chester Bowl has played an instrumental role in Duluth’s history and in more ways than one is why the park was created and why it still exists today. Long before any of us were born, guys like George Hovland were skiing through the woods of Chester and making trails.

    Fastforward to the 1960s when my father, Adrian Watt, spent his entire childhood building jumps, jumping and being outside at Chester Bowl, instead of playing Gameboy. These skiers and countless others created a skiing culture in Duluth, that still remains today. However, Chester Bowl is playing less and less of a role in the Nordic culture of Duluth. Why are we seeing less Nordic skiers at Chester, when there are more youth skiers and large crowds at events like the Birkie today than 20 years ago?

    Personally, I grew up perfecting my ski skills at Chester. However, since the early 1990s when I was a kid I have seen the quality of the ski trails drastically go down hill. When I was young there was a small 1/2km lighted ski loop at Chester. Now the lights are out, trail was full of buckthorn. There was also an additional section of trail on top of the hill, that was removed (instead of re-routed) sometime after Hovland Ln was developed. Upon brushing of the trees, we found signs on trees, arrows on rocks that were certainly visible once upon a time.

    Over the years the Chester Bowl Ski Club has adopted the bowl and has been taking extremely good care of it with limited resources. Unfortunately, most of the efforts have been focused on the alpine hill and summer programing.

    My personal goal is to make the Nordic skiing experience at Chester Bowl “world class.” What is meant by that is not hosting the Olympics, rather simply re-establishing the skiing experience at Chester Bowl by making it safe, enjoyable, and memorable.

    In order to do this, brushing simply needs to be done. I love the forest as much as the next guy and want to make sure we are maximizing improvements, while minimizing the environmental impact. I realize a few dead birch, etc. will need to be removed, as these are not safe for any user group of the trail, be it walkers, hikers, skiers.

    Additionally, I agree that the walker/hikers should voice their concerns and opinions on plans at Chester so we can discuss ideas. I personally have been an advocate for developing groomed walking trails. I believe that each group needs to understand the other and respect the different uses of trails not only at Chester, but city wide. At Chester I don’t see dogs on the alpine hill or mountain bikes buzzing down through Lower Chester. There are small signs saying no biking, and 98 percent of bikers respect that Lower Chester in not a downhill slalom course (as tempting as it may look). I would appreciate the same respect on groomed ski trails in the winter.

    As for the re-route of the bridge. I think the main reason for the new location of the bridge was based on the history of the bridge. The flood that happened in 1972 washed out the old bridge. And then this year, the bridge washed out again. The blogosphere is probably not the place for major discussion on all the variables of this re-route issue.

    I look forward to constructive discussions on how to improve our gem of a park, rather than criticizing the people who are volunteering time with only good intentions at heart.

    Think snow,
    Andre Watt

    wattski | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  23. All I have to say in regard to multi-use, please don’t get mad at me when I scream at you as I try not to run over you or your unleashed dog as I descend on my skis after the brutal climbs.

    ian | Dec 3, 2012 | New Comment
  24. @Terry G. I’m sure the classical skiers appreciate your staying off the tracks when you walk on ski trails. But walking on the skate lane (the part of the trail next to the groomed tracks) punches it full of footprints and wrecks the skating.

    I’m puzzled by this heated argument. Duluth has so many winter trails for walkers. I don’t ski or hike Chester, but I’m out hiking and skiing at Lester all the time. There are miles and miles of really great multi-use trails within a few feet of the ski trails. And yet hikers use the ski trails. This suggests to me that developing hiking trails in Chester won’t stop people from walking on the ski trails there, either.

    bluenewt | Dec 4, 2012 | New Comment
  25. Hmmm, I didn’t know hikers/snowshoers using ski trails was a heated argument. I use the Chester Park trails because I live adjacent to the park and it’s open to the public for use during all seasons. I respect the skier’s trails and most skiers do the same to me when I hike or snowshoe on/near them.

    I guess if this was an argument, couldn’t it be said that skiers could use any number of other trails in the region if they are bothered by too many non-skiers using “their” trails?

    For the record, I also x-country and downhill ski -- enjoying our wonderful winters any way I can!

    Terry G. | Dec 4, 2012 | New Comment
  26. My main issue is people walking in groups or in the middle of the groomed trails, especially the downhill sections. Add in night time, no headlamps and a dog or three… things can potentially get messy. Like taking a moped on the interstate IMO.

    ian | Dec 4, 2012 | New Comment
  27. As I understand it, the City receives state funds for grooming which are raised by the sale of the Great Minnesota Ski Pass. The pass is also required to ski on the trails during the winter.

    As part of getting those funds, the trails on which they are spent must be designated as ski trails. While I don’t doubt that much of the use of the trail is by walkers, keep in mind that it is a ski trail. Changing it to a multi-use trail might impact the funding stream which is used to pay for the grooming.

    dbb | Dec 5, 2012 | New Comment
  28. Thanks for mentioning that, DBB. The MN Ski Pass was created by the Minnesota Legislature in the 1980s to generate funds for maintaining and grooming DNR “Grant-in-Aid” ski trails. Duluth’s GIA ski trails include Magney, Piedmont, Chester, Hartley and Lester. These trails (plus Spirit Nordic) are groomed by the city, which receives funding from the MN Ski Pass system. Several years ago the Duluth XC Ski Club successfully advocated for Duluth’s annual DNR grooming grant to be increased from $5,000 to $11,000. This amount doesn’t cover all costs; Parks & Rec covers the rest. Between 1,500 and 2,000+ annual ski passes ($20) are sold to Duluth residents each winter (online or at any ELS location). If you ski on city-groomed trails, please buy one. The pass is also valid at MN State Parks such as Jay Cooke & Gooseberry.

    Local Trail Pass Info

    annefluke | Dec 5, 2012 | New Comment
  29. P.S. All Duluth taxpayers contribute financially to maintaining our parks and trails. Some people choose “trail maintenance” as a way to volunteer in the community. There are many ways to help make Duluth a great place to live.

    annefluke | Dec 5, 2012 | New Comment
  30. Paul Lundgren | Dec 5, 2012 | New Comment
  31. Fan-frickin’-tastic! Hikers, walkers, etc. (anyone else who loves Chester and has felt under-represented until now) the ball is in your court. I hope to see you there.

    Dave P | Dec 5, 2012 | New Comment
  32. A report from the public meeting: the official notice that this meeting would be an opportunity to “discuss options to repair, restore and enhance Chester Creek within Chester Bowl Park” was a little broad. In fact, this was exclusively a presentation and discussion of three options for replacing Chester pond (or not). I did broach the subject of this ski trail reroute to officials there (both publicly and in private), and the answers I received confirm that it was indeed the city engineering department that jumped the gun and gave skiers the okay to chop the reroute. In fact, the bridge is now slated to be replaced at its original location (next year), so the reroute will serve no purpose. Sigh. In terms of preventing this sort of thing from happening again, the only assurance I could get was that the engineering department got “a bit of a black-eye” from this episode. Double sigh.

    The city is planning another meeting to discuss the Master Plan for the park in more detail. Hopefully, this will be a more appropriate forum for various park-user groups to make their voices heard. A date for that meeting has not been announced yet, so keep your ears to the rail. And enjoy all the fresh snow, however you choose to negotiate it!

    Dave P | Dec 12, 2012 | New Comment
  33. Wow, what a lot of babble from people without nearly enough actual Ks under their belts at Chester!

    I, like the legendary Adrian Watt, grew up hucking off the jumps, skiing alpine, and doing laps cross country trails trails at Chester Bowl! When I was in grade school I kept all my ski gear at the chalet and rode my BMX bike there almost every day after school. If the rope tow wasn’t running, I’d hike the ski jumps, or do a lap on the ski trail. I really don’t know where I would be today if I didn’t have that place through my childhood.

    I remember when John Thebarge would groom it daily, when they installed the lights (which aren’t needed because you get enough light from UMD, city lights, CSS to be able to ski there in the dark just fine, it’s a full moon there every night). I also remember the year Snowflake opened and George Hovland cut trees across the upper part of the trail… Kinda bums me out they put in a chairlift. And it is really sad to see what has happened to the jumps… Cloquet has a strong jumping program now. Really Duluth? And who gets the money from the cell phone towers on the jumps?

    I also remember there being Nordic Trails at CSS! The State High School meet used to go around Chester then under Kenwood and a lap on those trails. Which have long since been neglected. In any area of town that has had the most trails fall to neglect it is on CSS property.

    I do see great potential in have cool races at Chester. I raced my first races there. It is an awesome course, great potential! It has always been one of the places I’ve skied the most. I think I hold the record there at 27 laps! I’ve embraced the fact there are dog walkers, I ski there with my dog. No one skis there just a few people me, Dan Proctor, Bruce Bauer. Kinda makes me laugh so many people want to comment when they don’t use it. Tony D walks his dog daily. The rest of you I can’t say!

    That all being said. Sure it could have World Cup potential! But come on it is in the Hillside, and Hilsiders are going to do what they want to do, you are not going to get them to walk their dogs anywhere else. Now, I am no Squarehead douchedag who has been payed to go other places and tell people what to do with the trails in their own back yard. I just know that in every ski community I have ever lived in or visited there is a poop loop or dog trail to use and Chester is that trail in Duluth. Any future plans with the trails are going to have to fall within the great slogan that Thom Storm has been teaching there since the creation of plastic alpine boots! “Everyone’s a Winner at Chester Bowl” Dog walkers, elitist Nordic douchebags, anyone else who wants to use the bowl will have to get along!

    And on another note. Who the hell came up with that reroute? 90 degree corner at the bottom of a hill. I know I could probably make the turn! But the rest of you spanks have got to be smoking something to think you can pull that off!

    Dustball | Jan 13, 2013 | New Comment
  34. Looking back, its laugh-out-loud redonkulous folks were suggesting Chester could be World Class. If anything, Lester would be the world class area in Duluth. But there again, you have no economy in that half of town, except all the money, so why bother?

    Mayor Ness, I feel like the irony here just went to my head like a bag of glue and a Colt 45.

    Herzog | Feb 14, 2013 | New Comment
  35. Chester’s younger brother.

    Herzog | Feb 14, 2013 | New Comment

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