Skill Level: Intermediate
Trail Length: 9 miles
Story: Hartley Park is co-managed by Hartley Nature Center and the City of Duluth. It has 5K of cross country ski trails (which are off limits to bikes) on the east side of the park, the Superior Hiking Trail through the middle, and user-defined, multi-use trails open to mountain bikes on the western side. As you can see from the map below, Hartley has a fairly complicated network of trails and it is very easy to get lost on these trails. Once you get away from Hartley Nature Center there is little in the way of maps. Your best bet is to join a group ride with locals like the Ski Hut Monday night ride, Continental Ski and Bike beginner Wednesday night rides or just plan on spending your first time wandering around to find your way.
COGGS has played the role of consistent helper to maintaining the trails at Hartley and has no official control over maintenance. Most of the trails at Hartley are “user defined”, which basically means trail users have blazed trail over the past several decades and eventually some worn in trails were established. The problem with this is that because water management was never a part of the design or trail construction process, Hartley is perpetually wet in many areas, particularly around the Western Swamp. Because of this scenario, much of the existing trail in Hartley would benefit from reroutes. COGGS, along with the City of Duluth, has done each of the past few National Trails Day celebrations at the park to help reroute some persistently wet areas. In 2010 much progress was made in our relationship with the Hartley Nature Center and the City of Duluth, allowing COGGS to be able to take a more integral role in maintenance of the trails at Hartley. Hartley hosted our 2010 IMBA Trail Care Crew visit and several key wet areas have been rerouted around in the past year. In 2012, COGGS won a City of Duluth Parks Commission grant for $3,000 which was used to hire a skilled trail builder, Shawn Miller, to work on three large reroutes on the Guardrail loop. This project was hugely successful and have greatly improved the quality of trail use in Hartley. In 2013, COGGS again won a Parks Commission grant, this time worth $5,000, to fund trail improvements in Hartley, Lester and Piedmont.
The Ride: Hartley is a beautiful park with some great hardwood forests, an open grassland marsh and a large rock bluff. Some trails are fairly rocky and rooty, which lead to some technical challenges, but are not overly difficult. Many of the new reroutes are quite smooth and have nice flow to the design. There are several punchy climbs with enough rocks and roots to make choosing the right line important, but there aren’t any lung busters, just rolling hills.
Location: 3001 Woodland Ave, Duluth MN
Directions: From Interstate 35 take 21st Ave E up the hill. Take a Right on Woodland Ave and travel two miles to the entrance for Hartley Nature Center, which will be on our left. An alternate entrance with limited parking is at the end of Hartley Rd, which can be found off Arrowhead Rd.