Here come Mark Sutton and Theresa Richied running along the forested path. They’re out for a seven-mile trail run. Each of them is carrying water on this warm August afternoon.
The Minneapolis couple discovered this 3.4-mile loop trail in Brewer Park near Haines Road in West Duluth not long after it was opened in August. It’s one of several that the Superior Hiking Trail Association, in cooperation with the city, plans to add in coming years, all under the umbrella of the city’s St. Louis River Recreation Corridor Project.
The main Superior Hiking Trail runs for more than 300 miles from close to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border on the south end to near the Canadian border at the north end. Until now, the only loop trails connected to the long-distance route were along the North Shore.
Sutton, who grew up in Duluth, returns often with Richied. They appreciate the loop aspect of the new Brewer Park trail.
“It enables people to make a loop, so you don’t have to backtrack,” Sutton said.
The length is about right for many hikers. The loop takes about an hour and 20 minutes to complete at a leisurely pace.
Like all other portions of the Superior Hiking Trail, this one is well-marked and easy to follow. Hikers climb a bit from the Haines Road parking lot to the main loop. From there, the trail rolls along over easy ups and downs, through stands of adolescent aspen and maples. The loop was made by constructing a length of new trail that connected on each end with the existing Superior Hiking Trail.
Soon after leaving the parking lot, the hiss of traffic on Haines Road gives way to the hush of the forest. On its south side, the trail offers sweeping overlooks of the St. Louis River and the Duluth-Superior Harbor. Fall wildflowers — goldenrod, aster, pearly everlasting — nod along the path. Sumac plants sport their first deep red leaves of the season. Lush clumps of mountain-ash berries hang in heavy clusters.
A college student from near Mankato, Minn., had discovered the trail. He had been in Duluth for two days and was looking for someplace quiet “to get lost.” He seemed to have found the solitude he was looking for, although numerous trail markers wouldn’t allow him to become truly lost.
Where: The new Brewer Park Loop of the Superior Hiking Trail
How long: 3.4 miles
Highlights: Trail passes through aspen and maple forest, with overlooks of the St. Louis River estuary
Trailhead parking: On Haines Road, about 1.7 miles north of the I-35 exit to 40th Avenue West/Haines Road.
More information: Superior Hiking Trail Association, shta.org