Outdoor enthusiasts in the Northland received disappointing, but not unexpected, news this week from the City of Duluth Parks and Recreation Department. It's an announcement that is made each year, but the timing can differ based on Mother Nature.

The City announced that in collaboration with the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) and the Cyclists of Gitchee Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS), they have officially closed all its natural surface (dirt) trails until further notice due to the annual fall freeze-thaw cycle.

They added that the current overnight below-freezing temperatures combined with daytime above-freezing temperatures create wet and vulnerable soil conditions that can damage trails if they continue to be utilized. The community is asked to please avoid these trails if the soil is damp or muddy.

“If you see footprints or bike tire ruts in the underlying dirt, then it’s best to turn around and find a different outdoor recreation opportunity," said Matt Andrews, Parks and Recreation Trails Coordinator. “Until everything is frozen solid, the trails are highly vulnerable to damage, which could create erosion on the trails when the snow melts next spring.”

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The City of Duluth Parks and Recreation division also wants to remind the public the area has a variety of winter trail use opportunities and that gravel surface trails like the Duluth Winnipeg Pacific (DWP) Trail and Waabizheshikana (formerly Western Waterfront Trail), will remain open throughout winter.

Keep in mind that while the trails are open, they will not be plowed. Paved surface trails that include the Campus Connector Trail, Lakewalk, and Cross-City Trail, are cleared of snow and will open regardless of weather conditions.

The City of Duluth expects to fully reopen natural surface trails once the ground has completely frozen and surface conditions allow. You can learn more about the City's trails through the link above.

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