Superior Hiking Trail: Enger Tower to the Twin Ponds

Trail through Enger Park

One of the most powerful things about Duluth is its combination of wilderness and city life. Beacon Pointe is steps away from the lake and three miles from upscale restaurants, art galleries, and symphony orchestra concerts. Take a right instead of a left, though, and you’ll find yourself on a rugged forest trail.

That’s the Superior Hiking Trail, a treasure for locals and a free-to-use amenity for guests. This trail runs 310 miles from just south of Duluth all the way to the Canadian border, mostly along the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior. It’s known for rather steep up-and-downs, beautiful overlooks, and plenty of scenery. The occasionally confusing but ultimately rewarding route will send you past silvery birch and fields of wildflowers, through boggy wetlands and up rocky vistas, over rustic wood bridges and up steps of natural rock.

But the Duluth section of the trail is a bit of an exception. The natural features are interspersed with road crossings, sidewalks, and even the Lakewalk. It shows how the town lives and breathes right along with the natural world, humans working with instead of subduing nature. There’s a yin and a yang here, a natural flow you won’t find the same way in Chicago or Minneapolis.

bpr.enger.towerOne particularly intriguing section starts at Enger Tower, a five story building of blue stone on Enger Hill. Enger Tower Drive is right off of Hank Jensen Drive, up a hill in the western part of Duluth. Because it’s 531 feet above Lake Superior, climbing to the top of the tower gives you an incredible view of the city in all directions. In a tribute to the area’s Norwegian heritage, the tower was dedicated by the crown prince and princess of Norway in 1939—and rededicated by their son King Harald in 2011. Near the tower you’ll find another tribute to internationalism in the city’s official Zen garden. The park’s Peace Bell was a gift from Ohara, Duluth’s sister city. The Japanese consider fog to be the height of beauty but the park also looks fairly good in the sunshine.

The Peace Bell was a gift from Ohara, Japan. Duluth’s sister city.

From there, you’ll be able to join up on the Superior Hiking Trail. You can take the trail all the way downtown and even back to Beacon Pointe (though that would be several miles). The best may be simply to descend to the Twin Ponds by following the Scenic View trail down to Skyline Parkway and taking a spur trail. You’ll go down stairs, pass a swimming area, and follow a grassy lawn with benches around the pond, then climb a bank and cross Skyline Parkway again to reach the Twin Ponds.

It’s a short but pretty walk, and of course you can go further if you want. A few miles more and you’ll reach the Bay, then Beacon Pointe itself. City meets nature, nature meets city. It’s the perfect way to get a little bit of everything on your next vacation.

Learn more and find maps is available on the Superior Hiking Trail’s website.