Help COGGS build Duluth into the best in the Midwest

COGGS is a local nonprofit cycling advocacy group that builds and maintains many of the single-track trails in Duluth, including Piedmont, Spirit Mountain, Lester Park, etc.

In the past six months there have been some incredible things happening with COGGS that I wanted to take a moment to share with the rest of the Twin Ports community.

The absolute biggest thing is that a proposed multi-use, single-track trail has been accepted by the city of Duluth’s Master Plan (Huge thank you to Andrea Grygo for creating this!). The city is behind COGGS mission of developing a cross-city multi-use, single-track trail and making Duluth a destination mountain biking town.

Hansi Johnson, IMBA’s Midwest director, knows of no other city in the entire country that has the potential to have a trail of this scope within the city limits. This big picture dream has all the right components coming together for us to make it a reality.

More immediately, COGGS has verbal approval to begin designing specific projects for Mission Creek and the Spirit Mountain Nordic system. That, along with our current projects of Lester Park and Brewer Park, provide instant opportunity to continue helping establish the kind of trail system that local riders want and will draw riders from other areas.

It may seem like COGGS is doing great and better riding opportunities keep popping up all over the place. To a degree this is true, there are more riding opportunities, for a wider ranger of cyclists, than there were five years ago. However, currently we are severely limited by the amount of volunteer work we have to work with. The projects in Mission Creek, Spirit Mountain and Brewer park have all had an open door for moving forward for 1-3 years already, but because with our current level of help we can only really focus on one or two projects at a time, they sit dormant.

The COGGS Board is working on ways to try and remedy this issue by looking at fundraising and grant opportunities. We also have the Yes! Duluth program providing workers that are being coordinated by a COGGS paid supervisor. This crew is currently working in Lester Park, and volunteers can also join them in their efforts.

Things like the Yes! Duluth program are helping, but we need additional help to make the dreams we all have of Duluth being the best place to live and ride bikes it can possibly be.

So how can you help? Here are a few options:

1. Come out and volunteer at trail work days. If you’re a COGGS member you will get regular email updates letting you know when and where we’ll be working. We regularly work, or have the access to work throughout Duluth, so no matter where you live we can be working on a trail nearby. Our website,, has a membership form and also links to trailwork updates.

2. Donate to COGGS. Because we are a 501-C3, your contribution is tax deductible. Many members have been utilizing this, most notably the saint who matched the funds we collected from our spring membership drive.

3. Help with grant writing and seeking grant opportunities. Other towns of similar size have significantly bigger trailbuilding budgets and their local clubs just do planning while they hire the construction to be done. Rapid City, SD has had over a million dollars of money flow through they local cycling clubs. Specks on the map like Copper Harbor, MI have budgets over ten times ours. By winning grants we can pay for our trails to be done by professionals.

4. Participate in COGGS events. We have workdays, we put on races, we go on trips, we have parties. All of this builds community and this makes the work fun.

Again, right now each and every one of us has the opportunity to help the Twin Ports take a huge jump forward as far as being an epic place to ride if we all just do a little bit. I look forward to working with each of you to help this vision become a reality.

Adam Sundberg



about 14 years ago

I was out mapping COGGS trails in the Piedmont area about a year ago for a book I hope to have published on the trails of Duluth, and ran into some riders who asked what I was doing. When I told them, their response was something like, "man, don't do that; then the tourists will know about this." Which it seems to me is the point. Trails are a public good, meant for sharing, and an economic benefit to boot. These riders' snoody attitude put me off, and I hope it's not one shared by many COGGS bikers. I wanted to point out that these trails are snaking all over public land, and if you wanted something that was your little secret you shouldn't have built them here to begin with.

I'm all for more non-motorized trails, within reasonable limits. I do think it's possible to have too much, and some areas should be kept minimally impacted by trails to preserve their wilderness-like quality. The Mission Creek area in particular strikes me as one of these.

Interesting fact: There are currently well over 50 miles of recreation trails within the city of Duluth, plus another 50 or so in Jay Cooke State Park. That must make us one of the trail-iest cities in the country.


about 14 years ago

I for one would like to say how much I respect and appreciate all of the hard work COGGS has put into our trails. I've heard many a comment on the trails from out of town riders that our trails are more intense, and more fun than most anything else they've ridden in the state.


about 14 years ago

You Duluthians are so lucky to live where you do. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do some riding up there this summer yet. How about a top five list of the best mtb trails for the out-of-towner?


about 14 years ago

I just want to mention to REDIGUANA that just because someone is riding a mountain bike it doesn't mean they are a COGGS member (profiling?).  Though they should be. If you become a COGGS member - or at least pay attention to the website - you can help to take ownership and responsibility for the trails. Get involved people!

Adam S

about 14 years ago

COGGS leadership is all about promotion of the sport.  Meaning we want to attract people to ride, whether they are locals or from out of town.  If people are visiting because they like the trails, or they are moving here because they like the trails, those are good things.

Top 5 Trails is tough because it's very subjective and each trail is quite different.

I would say if someone wants a technical challenge, they should go to Piedmont.

If they want something easier but just as fun, they should go to Lester.  

Those would be my top options.  Mont du Lac is a private trail that you pay for, but I would rank it right up there with those two. 

Hartley is good too.  

Spirit Mountain is another very tough, technical trail, but the Alpine Coaster has chopped that trail up a bit.

Tom Maloney

about 14 years ago

I agree with rediguana - getting our trails used is a definitely good thing... and I would wager that those hoping to keep Piedmont a secret were not involved in building it and thus have no real 'ownership' anyway.

This 'ownership' attitude cropped up a lot in Colorado's back-country skiing community and I have been happily rid of it since I've lived in beautiful Duluth.

Thank you to all non-snobs.

Dave Sorensen

about 14 years ago

I don't trail ride, but I see those trails where they intersect the Superior Hiking Trail and they look crazy/wonderful. Good Work. I really don't think you have to worry about them being overrun with people. I'm guessing they are too challenging for that. Plus, outdoorsy folks already have their own mile-long lists of happy places around here, so publicizing something probably won't threaten it.


about 14 years ago

I think another thing to realize with these trails is just how tentative our greenspace really is in Duluth.  In the work COGGS has done to get trails in Piedmont I came to realize that Piedmont is actually county land and not City, only managed by the City.  So it is actually a chunk of greenspace that is relatively unprotected from development.  

As we work more in gaining access we have come face to face with the sad fact that many of the parks and "forgotten" chunks of land we have in the city could go away at any time and quickly.  By putting multi-use trails, trails that allow bikes, and any other human powered form of traffic, we lay claim to using these spaces, add value to them as recreational spots and hopefully help to save them for future generations.  

Mission Creek is a great example of that, a semi remembered, large chunk of land on the western edge of town ... so even if you are not a mountain biker, please donate or get involved with COGGS, the trails that Adam speaks about will be more than MTB trails, they will be trail running, hiking, dog walking trails as well.


about 14 years ago

Do mountain bike trails really do any more harm than say, deer trails made by deer? By allowing human powered recreation the scenic green space might be easier to protect from  urban development than trying to keep it from any human use. I would rather see dirt trails built with hand tools than paved roads constructed by bulldozers.


about 14 years ago

Yay, COGGS. 

However, Shane's analogy of a bike trail to a deer trail speaks to a lack of knowledge about how different uses seriously impact a woodsy way. I'm all over the trails behind the Park Hill and Forest Hill cemeteries all the time, including the Superior Hiking Trail and the snowmobile/three-wheeler trails. 

A deer trail is a barely visible track. Most people don't use deer trails except in winter on snowshoes. Snowmobile trails are wide and like forest roads through the woods. When they use trails too narrow for them, we're all familiar with what it does to the trees and dirt. But it is important to acknowledge that bicycles can really be a problem too when someone uses them on trails not meant for biking. Someone has really been tearing up the SHT with trail bikes, and it's churning up the mud since the rains. 

Or at least I assume that the people who use the Superior Hiking trails aren't supposed to be biking on them. Am I wrong? Or is it just supposed to be courtesy for all of us that we don't go sloshing through the forest when it's impossibly wet? 

Can we all just agree that there's a bit of scale? Deer --> snowshoes --> boots --> horses --> bikes --> snowmobiles --> four-wheelers --> mud-spewing pick-up trucks.  It seems common sense.

trail user

about 14 years ago

When you build a trail - you erode. No getting around it. But - in most of the in-town cases - when you officially build a trail you save that area from future over-development.  Not that I'm against development ... just over development and sprawl... this city is unique because of it's green space and parks and we need to keep as much of them as possible. One of the problems is that there are thousands of people using the trails and only dozens helping to maintain them. We need more people to chip in and help out.

As for bikes on SHT - strictly prohibited - and most likely neighborhood kids who know no better.  Best for all users to stay off all trails when they are this wet. To learn about building and maintaining SUSTAINABLE trails go to:


about 14 years ago

Hbh I know the difference. I was trying to make a point.  Besides, the deer use the bike trails too.  Trail User gets it.

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