Superior Hiking Trail – Day 4
Tuesday September 26, 2017
Starting Point: Spirit Mountain Campground
Ending Point: South Pier Inn, Duluth
Trail Miles Hiked: 14.3
It started raining about 10 p.m. last night and rained pretty hard throughout the night. When I woke up this morning the rain was still coming down and I get to pack up in the rain. This is the first time I actually had to get dressed and pack up in the rain and having a large tent like the ZPacks Triplex really comes in handy when getting dressed and loading your pack in the rain. Since I stayed in the Spirit Mountain Campground , I take advantage of the fact that they have a shower house. I climb out of the tent, quickly packed it up, retrieved my bear bag and retreated to the dry interior of the shower house where I eat my breakfast and prepare for the day’s hike. When I finally leave my dry retreat I head out of the campground in the rain on the Spirit Mountain Loop. This trail is much better than the bike trail I had hiked in on yesterday and weaves its way through the woods and between rock formations.
The loop takes me back to the Chalet where I walk the short spur back down to the Knowlton Creek Bridge. With the rain last night Knowlton Creek is flowing much better today than when I crossed it yesterday. The Superior Hiking Trail continues following Knowlton Creek downstream for a ways before finally veering off and heading uphill. As I climb the trail it begins to follow just below I-35 and I can see and hear the highway noise at different points throughout this section.
I continue on eventually coming to Kingsbury Creek. Kingsbury Creek is really flowing pretty strong and I can hear the roar of the water well before the creek is in sight. The creek is beautiful and powerful as the water flows over the cascades and between rocks on its way to Lake Superior. The trail follows alongside the creek for over a mile, crosses over the creek on a snowmobile trail bridge, and continues following the creek back upstream on the other side. There are numerous great views and even a bench to stop and sit on to enjoy the area.
Leaving the creek, the trail climbs once again to a high point which has a great view of West Duluth and Superior, WI beyond. The trail continues to follow I-35 towards Duluth and winds its way back down and under I-35 and eventually opens up into a suburban area near West Duluth. The trail becomes a road walk for a short distance down Westlake Blvd. then cuts off and back into the woods leading toward Keene Creek. The trail follows Keene Creek for another couple of miles through the woods with lots of good views of the creek and its numerous cascades.
Winding my way through several parks and green spaces, I eventually end up at Enger Park, home of the Enger Tower. About halfway around the loop of Enger Park I am able to catch a spur trail that takes me to the tower. I leave my pack at the bottom, climb up the stairs to the top with hopes of great views of Downtown Duluth and the Aerial bridge marking my destination for the day. As my luck has it, I once again reach the highest point around to get the best views and the view is completely fogged in. I retrace my steps down the tower, find a seat at the bottom and eat a snack before making the last push to the end of the day’s hike.
After leaving Enger Tower, the trail begins a rapid descent as it winds it way down the hill toward downtown Duluth. There are a couple of good views on the way down and the trail remains mostly in woods and along rocky bluffs until I finally came out near the I-35 pedestrian bridge. I cross the bridge, proceed toward the Bayfront Festival Park and Duluth Aquarium and finally reach the Duluth Harbor. I stop here for a couple of pictures, take in the view of the harbor and the aerial bridge before proceeding on the trail toward my stop for the night.
I follow the trail around the harbor, cross a small bridge and head for the aerial bridge. The Canal Park section of Duluth is a nice area and has lots of dining and drinking opportunities. At this point my feet are really hurting and I am anxious to get to the South Pier Inn where I have reserved a room for the night. I finally get to the Aerial Bridge, stop midway across to take some pictures of the of the area and continue on to the hotel. I’m greeted with a warm welcome, my resupply box is waiting in my room, and I get a great recommendation for a burger and some brew.
After taking a shower and washing my clothes in the room, I head back out to the Canal Park Brewing Company that was recommended by the hotel clerk. The place is perfect. Good food and locally brewed beer. It doesn’t get much better than that after 4 days of eating dehydrated food on the trail. I do a little sightseeing around the Duluth area and head back to the hotel early to get a good nights sleep and be ready for more trail tomorrow.