After John and Lauryn's wedding in Ely, Minnesota Kate and I drove Rachel to the Duluth airport as it was the closest place for her to fly out of. Rachel had to get back to New Orleans and Kate and I had an extra day or so to explore Minnesota a state Kate had never been to before. Ordinarily Kate would have had something all planned but she had been busy with school and work. I'm not much of a planner, I feel if you over plan it destroys all the surprises. We had been impressed with the area on our way to Ely so decided to check out the city.
There are really two cities: Superior, Wisconsin, an industrial, working class city and then on the other side of the river Duluth, a college and tourist town. Someone at the wedding had described Duluth as Lawrence, Kansas meets San Francisco, California. I could understand the comparison.
Duluth is the western most city on the great lakes. It sits on the western edge of lake Superior the largest of the great lakes. We read somewhere that you can fit all the other great lakes in to Lake Superior plus a couple more Lake Eries. Duluth and the area around it is dedicated to the great out doors. "With rocky cliffs, pebble-strewn shores and miles of sandy beach, Duluth isn't what you'd expect in the heart of the country. Dozens of trout streams cut through the town's 100 parks and 105,000 acres of green space--more than any other U.S. city." From the Duluth brochure.
Duluth has a great water front with the Split Rock light house celebrating it's 100 year anniversary this year and the Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth's most famous landmark. The bridge was originally built in 1910 and then upgraded to its present design in 1929. It takes two minutes to rise and goes up 25 to 30 times a day during the height of the shipping season. Because the bridge is so low to the water it has to be lifted for 1000 foot freighters as well as small sail boats. The bridge connects a 7 mile long strip of land to the mainland. About 6 of the miles is only accessible by foot. We unfortunately did not have to time to try a 12 mile trek.
Along the water is the lake trail that we did take. Because Duluth goes straight up form the water the trail is unmarred by commercial enterprises. But by walking up stairs at many points you can access shops and restaurants as well as the rose garden. The trail is 5.1 miles and is easy hiking. I'm not sure how much of it we walked that day but it was beautiful. There are a dozen other trails within the city to explore including the Superior Hiking Trail that is 29 miles long within the city with a total of 205 miles above the lake.
If you don't want to hike you can do as we did and drive the Skyline Parkway. We unfortunately were having trouble finding it and were running out of time so we only got to drive a small portion but the view was stunning. The whole drive is 25 miles.
Kate and I spent the greater part of two days in this wonderful town and only scratched a very small surface. I think it might take a month to see and do everything I wanted to. There are boat rides and train rides, and an aquarium. Although the town is active both in the winter and the summer I think I would prefer to stick to the summers. I'm definitely going back.
One more important fact. Duluth is the birthplace of Bob Dylan.