Cross City Trail in Duluth — Connecting the Munger Trail and Lakewalk at last

The links below are to PDF files of maps showing proposed routes for the Cross City Trail, connecting the Willard Munger State Trail with the Duluth Lakewalk.

Page 1 – 75th Avenue West to 66th Avenue West area
Page 2 – 66th Avenue West to Central Avenue area
Page 3 – Central Avenue to Ramsey Street area
Page 4 – Ramsey Street to 40th Avenue West area
Page 5 – 40th Avenue West to 29th Avenue West area
Page 6 – 29th Avenue West to 18th Avenue West area
Page 7 – 18th Avenue West to Mesaba Avenue area
Page 8 – Mesaba Avenue to the Lakewalk area

The maps are from Matt Bolf, project manager for Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., the firm hired by the city to sort this out.

Several possible routes are shown on the maps. Bolf said these routes are being reviewed and studied. 

“We are getting public input on all of them at this time, along with starting to meet with landowners to find out what routes are possible,” he said.

Kimberly Sannes is the city of Duluth’s project engineer in charge of the effort.

The trail is intended for multi-purpose use and will accommodate pedestrians, skaters, bikers and other non-motorized modes of transit. It’s expected to take about five years to make the whole thing a reality, but the section from the Lake Superior Zoo area to the Bong Bridge could be done by 2011.



about 14 years ago

Thanks for posting this, Paul. I hope the merge happens!

The Big E

about 14 years ago

I wish they'd hurry up with pages 5-8 myself.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Looking at the maps, there is a section from the eastern terminus of Ramsey Street in West Duluth to Clyde Park in the West End where only one route is drawn -- Alternative 1. It looks like a good route to me, so I doubt there's much to debate about on that.

But there are a few different variations on how to get from the end of the Munger Trail to the eastern terminus of Ramsey Street. I'd like to hear what people think about those options.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Alternative 1 starts at the Munger Trail parking lot on Pulaski Street, goes down the little hill into the Western Waterfront Trail, then shoots back up another hill onto the railroad tracks near the Tappa Keg restaurant. From there it follows the tracks northeast to Fremont Street, then goes west on Fremont Street briefly to connect to a different set of tracks heading northeast. Then it follows the tracks in a big arch that pops out on Central Avenue near Irving Park and follows Central Avenue to the I-35 overpass. From there it follows under I-35 to Ramsey Street where it meets the other options.

I think that plan is OK, but not the best option.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Alternative 1b is basically the same, except it briefly follows a different set of railroad tracks in the area between 67th and 63rd Avenues West.

Again, fine, but not the best option in my opinion.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Alternative 1b is another slight variation to Alternative 1. About a quarter-mile section of the trail would go up 56th or 57th Avenue West to Redruth Street and then to Central Avenue instead of following the railroad tracks. I'm guessing this option only exists in case the other route isn't possible for some reason.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Alternative 1c splits off from 1b and follows yet another set of tracks, staying closer to Grand Avenue. It goes off the map, but comes back in at Nicollet Street to join the main Alt 1 route.

Nothing bad about this option either, but still not my favorite.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Alternative 2 would start right where the Munger Trail ends right now. It would follow the railroad tracks behind the Willard Munger Inn to Fremont Street, then turn right and follow Fremont Street to its terminus at 63rd Avenue West, near where the Western Waterfront Trail ends. It then follows 63rd and wraps over to Waseca, and makes its way to railroad tracks near the waterfront before connecting to Alt 1 at Ramsey Street.

This option follows a little too much street for me.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Alternative 2a starts like Alt 1, but instead uses the existing Western Waterfront Trail. Then it connects to Alt 2 on 63rd Avenue West.

I like the Western Waterfront Trail as it is -- a gravel trail with much less bicycle and snowmobile traffic than the Munger. So, Alt 2a is my least favorite option.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Which leaves us with the "Alternative Connector" option, which uses about a one-block stretch of Raleigh Street to connect Alt 1 and Alt 2 so that parts of either option can be used to create a new option. I totally dig.

Here's what I recommend: Start with Alt 2, following the railroad behind the Willard Munger Inn. Switch to Alt 1 at Fremont Street. Use the Alternative Connector to switch back to Alt 2 at Raleigh Street. This allows the trail to follow the railroad and stay closer to the waterfront than Alt 1 (which goes up Central Avenue and ducks under the freeway -- so it's not as much fun).

So, basically, Alt 2 is good, but it's better if the trail stays off Fremont, 63rd and Waseca. Alt 1 is good, but it's better if the trail stays off Central and Ramsey. Use the connector to combine both Alts 1 and 2 and you've got an awesome route.

General guiding principals: 1) Stay off the roads when possible. 2) Get close to the waterfront when possible, but leave the Western Waterfront Trail as is.

And that's my hour-and-a-half's worth of an opinion on the subject. Now I need to get off-map and hike the route to see it that changes my mind. Fun!


about 14 years ago

Alt 1 with a drop into Alt 2 at Waseca Industrial Rd and then Alt 1 the rest of the way would keep everyone far from traffic.  I'm guessing though that this might be a step by step project, so they'd start with using a lot of roads at first and then phase in other parts.

Michigan St. has high traffic but wide berth.  I'd definitely take it over Superior St., though  1c looks interesting.

Mostly 1 with parts of 2 look the best.

Please leave the Waterfront Trail alone!

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

It should be noted that only a small part of the Waterfront Trail would be affected. It wouldn't be that bad. But it would be MUCH preferred, I think by many, to stick with the railroad route and leave the Waterfront Trail as is.


about 14 years ago

Looking at all the maps got me really excited. I think Paul hit it pretty much right on the head, and I second his analysis. Alt 1 looks good overall, except using Alt 2 between the Munger Inn and Fremont and the "alternative connector" to Alt 2 between Raleigh and Ramsay would be nicer, farther from traffic, closer to the lake etc. Cool beans!!!

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Let me take you on a little photo tour of the proposed routes. Here is where the Munger Trail ends, at 75th Avenue West.

One plan is to continue it straight across the avenue, following the railroad tracks. In the photo below, under the snow to the left of the railroad tracks, is an open area full of small rocks that would become a paved trail. (Below is a 180-degree turn from the same spot the above shot was taken.)

At the far right of the above photo, there is an entrance to the Western Waterfront Trail. It's a short, paved path that leads to the gravel trail along the shoreline. That paved section could be an alternate route to get a little further up the rail line. It pops up by the Tappa Keg at the spot shown below.

There is another option in which the Cross City Trial would follow the Western Waterfront Trail, but let's not go there. The railroad route is the best option. Trust me. However, there is more than one way to go about that.

The center of this photo is the Fremont Street culdesac. Two rail lines split off, creating two potential routes for the trail. The one to the right is by far the greater adventure. The one to the left has some merit as well, though. Although it takes the main trail in a less desirable route, it offers a more efficient route for people in the Denfeld area to get to the Munger Trail quickly while staying off Grand Avenue. The photo below shows a third option, shooting down Fremont. That's not a good option. Forget that.

If you chose the way of adventure and follow the tracks to the left, you'll come to another split shortly. The route to the right will take you to Waseca Industrial Road. It's OK, but less desirable than the route to the left.

Below is Waseca Industrial Road. It is what it is, an industrial road.

It'll take you to the overpass below, which is where the other option goes. Confused yet? Sorry. I really am trying to make this as simple as possible.

Below is where the other option would have taken you. It would climb up the hill to the street and connect with the short,  existing paved trail that goes to Irving Recreation Area. What street is that? Well, it's either Raleigh Street or Waseca Industrial Road. They run together.

Let's back up, though. The railroad route to the same place -- you know, choosing left earlier and not going via Waseca, looks like this.

That's a little better, I think. Anyway, when you get to the paved trail to Irving, that's where the new route should use the aforementioned "Alternative Connector" on Raleigh/Waseca to put you back on an old rail line, which is where the adventure is.

Look! There's a bald eagle! See what I mean?

Sure, any of the routes through this part of West Duluth will have more industry than nature ...

... but there's some cool stuff that would be missed by not following the waterfront.

Paul Lundgren

about 14 years ago

Anyway, back way up to Fremont Street. What if we followed the other railroad route? The one that's a convenient entry point to the Munger for a lot of people. It would go through the area shown below.

Obviously it has its benefits, but in terms of the trail as a whole it leads to some street connections, which are less fun. You'd end up riding along Nicollet Street, below.

Then the route would cross Central Avenue, and a paved trail would run next to I-35 by the New Page paper mill.

Eventually you'd hit the bottom of Ramsey Street, shown below, and the trail would take you to the old railroad route where the ideal path, in my previous comment, left off.

From there it follows it works its way to Clyde Park. There's only one option for this part, so not much to debate. Northeast of that is a whole other situation. I haven't even considered that part yet.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the city and SEH have done a great job of laying out the options and the options are all pretty good. I just think one option is better than the rest.

I'd like to see the the "Alternative 1c" route that parallels Grand Avenue be added years later as a spur trail whenever funds become available. While I don't think it's the best option for the main trail, it certainly would be useful to a lot of people.


about 14 years ago

Paul--you're awesome.  Thanks for all the maps and photos!


about 14 years ago

I'm kind of a map purist so I combined all these.  View at this link: (higher resolution available on request).


about 6 years ago

The Cross City Trail is still not complete.  If you would like to join a group that is working hard to get the trail to go where the citizens want it to go please contact me at [email protected] (Friends of Western Duluth Parks & Trails)
Visit our website on the CCT at as well to see the work we have done to this point.  We are advocating for the lower BN from Munger Trailhead to Keene Creek where it would then connect with the River Route that is scheduled to be built next summer 2019.

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