Duluth is not big but it has many urban characteristics squeezed into a small package. It has a busy downtown and tourist district. It has hillside neighborhoods with houses squeezed together and hotly contested parking spots. Then, there is the dense concentration of shipping-related industry crowded around the harbor.

But Duluth is never far from the wilderness. Even in busy neighborhoods there are stretches of woods that seem 100 miles from any city. The Superior Hiking Trail from Enger Tower to Superior Street runs through one of these spaces.

This section of the trail is on a particularly steep bulge in Duluth’s line of hills. This section also forms a giant gap in Duluth’s skyline, with few visible buildings and Enger Tower on top.

On the way down, you can stop by the Twin Ponds. This idyllic flat space with gentle pools is surrounded by steep hills. After this, the path starts its descent.

There are sections of the trail where tall trees block out all evidence of being near a city or giant lake. There are also sections with short trees and those with open fields of rocks.

Andrew Kilness doing a handstand at Enger Park Outlook
Andrew Kilness doing a handstand at Enger Park Outlook

This portion of the Superior Hiking Trail, which goes from Enger Tower to a parking lot on Superior Street, is about 1.1 miles and has about a 550 foot change in elevation. Going down the path is a relaxing scenic route with woods, rocky outcroppings, and commanding views of the harbor and lake. Going up has the same great scenery but is a little more work.

Before you walk the path you might want to get a sneak preview. At the top of Enger Tower, you will see most of Duluth and lots of water. If you look a little left of the grain elevator, you will see a section that appears houseless all the way down to Superior Street. There are actually a few houses in this section, where the trail zigzags down the hill.

Piedmont Trail Outlook in the morning sun. Enger Tower is visible on the left side of the photo.

At any point on the trail, you never know when the foliage will be light enough and/or the grade steep enough for the lake and harbor to make surprise appearances. You will experience the contrast of viewing the busy lake level from the high wilderness.

During the whole trip down, you will witness a struggle between the rocks’ barrenness and the soil’s vegetation. In many parts the rock is winning. Further down is a place where the rocks have won big time. This is the Point of Rocks.

The Point of Rocks is (naturally enough) a point with a lot of rocks. It has large sections of flat rock and a cliff. This cliff is a straight drop off of about 100 feet to the road below. Be careful. There is no guardrail here. Here is also a great view of the lift bridge and the harbor, looking much bigger now than before at Enger.

After the cliff, you go through more rocky areas and soon are on a parking lot in a busy neighborhood. At this point you can rest or maybe get some water at the M&H down the street, and get ready for the hike back up. Or, maybe you will convince yourself that you should support the local economy and take a cab back to your car parked by Enger Tower. It all depends on what shape you are in and how much you like walking straight up a beautiful hill.

Photos courtesy of Andrew Kilness