Duluth Cross City Trail 2020 Update: Segment 2 nearly complete

The River Route segment of Duluth’s Cross City Trail has been under construction this summer in West Duluth. It should be paved and ready for bicyclists in a matter of weeks.

The segment runs from Irving Park to Carlton Street, passing the Verso paper mill and Wade/Wheeler Athletic Complex. It’s part of a larger vision to connect the Willard Munger State Trail to the Duluth Lakewalk with a 10.3-mile multi-purpose, non-motorized, wheelchair-accessible, paved trail. That system could eventually connect to the Gitchi-Gami Trail to produce a paved bike path running from Hinckley to Grand Marais and potentially the Canadian border.

Click here for a PDF map of Cross City Trail segments — both built and planned. The River Route is considered Segment 2.

Depending on how you frame it, the Cross City Trail has been in the works for either 50 years, 15 years or 10 years. Cross City Trail Advocates suggest it goes back to the planning of I-35 through West Duluth in 1971. The first funding for the trail was secured in 2005. And it was 2010 when the city of Duluth released maps of potential routes. The process has been messy, but the trail has been slowly coming together. Some sections were built years ago, others are still being planned.

While the Munger Trail and Lakewalk are mostly about pleasure biking in nature and scenic beauty, the Cross City Trail is a bit more about utility. It serves to connect the two famous pleasure trails, but it also is a commuter trail to get cyclists from West Duluth to the Lincoln Park Craft District, Downtown and Canal Park, so it passes through industry at times, rather than vistas and the edge of waterways.

The part that is directly adjacent to I-35 is pretty short, but fat-tire bikers in winter might want to watch out for snowplow-induced avalanches.

And keep in mind industry can also be scenic at times.

The new segment passes through the hobo jungle and under the DM&IR ore docks.

Concerned about falling taconite pellets from dock #6? Don’t worry. The Cross City Trail has you covered.



about 4 years ago

Western Duluthians are very excited about segment 2, the River Route, coming online this late summer or early fall. The Cross City Trail has actually been envisioned as a trail for all ages so not just recreation or commuter. It is about the most direct connection from the Munger Trailhead to the Lakewalk to get us to Brighten Beach and up the old Highway 61 with the least amount of road crossings so being the safest route as possible off of road traffic.

If we can get segment 6 to move forward we will then have the original alignment (mostly) completed. That segment would go from Irving Park up Keene Creek to the BN not used tracks just southeast off of Grand Avenue (Highway 23) about a block and head straight out to Munger Trail Head.

It will take some work to encourage the city to use some staff time to secure the land needed, not all that much, so we can begin to get the funding.

Just think of being able to travel from the far west to Fond Du Lac when the Western Waterfront Trail (now called the Marten Clan Trail) is extended to cover from Smithville to Fond du Lac. 
Yahoo! and thanks to all that have been behind this project for all these years.


about 4 years ago

Great news! I love riding my bike from West Duluth to the Lincoln Park businesses and Canal Park, but I'm not always up for dealing with the traffic on Grand Ave. It will be wonderful to have this option.


about 4 years ago

I am so psyched about this! I moved to West Duluth a year ago and have enjoyed riding my mountain bike everywhere, but I am really excited about being able to ride purpose-built bike trails to Canal Park and downtown Duluth! Great job to all the stakeholders who came together to make this possible. I love the Duluth community spirit! Now, as other commenters have pointed out, let's get down to brass tacks on the Segment 6 alignment so that we can get that project on the calendar. I am in favor of the alignment that uses the old BN right of way. Keep the bike trail as close to the river as possible (between Grand Ave and the river).

Paul Lundgren

about 4 years ago

The city of Duluth announced in a news release that a portion of the newly constructed segment of the Cross City Trail will temporarily closed from April 2021 to July 2022 for completion of contaminant assessment and remediation activities in proximity to the trail.

A portion of the trail northeast of the former Verso paper plant closely skirts an area of the St. Louis River known as Erie Pier Ponds. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the city of Duluth are partnering to undertake contaminant assessment and remediation activities in this area, both in the water and along the adjoining shoreline. 

The portion of the Cross City Trail to be closed will be approximately 0.8 miles from the 40th Avenue West Bridge over I-35 southwest to Recycle Way. Signs and barriers will mark the closed area. Detour signs at 40th Avenue West and Recycle Way will advise people how to use existing roads to navigate around the temporary closure. The remaining 1.6 miles of the new Cross City Trail segment will not be effected by the temporary closure at Erie Pier Ponds.

Above: New Cross City Trail segment and closure area
Below: Location of contaminant remediation activities

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