Superior Hiking Trail: Burrito Union to Enger Park

Duluth, Minnesota. Amazing. Sit by a beautiful natural waterfall. Take a few steps and enter a restaurant. Eat your fill and then walk past a farmer’s market, some houses, and and art center. After just a few blocks you have arrived at the largest freshwater lake in the world. Oh, and did I mention the manicured Rose Garden that you will walk through before you actually get to the shore of Lake Superior?

Superior Hiking Trail sign and a sidewalk leading into the Rose Garden in Duluth, Minnesota
One of the entrances to the Rose Garden
lakeshore path with rocks and the Fitger's tower and an orange construction fence
There is a detour to go around this part that was damaged in a storm last fall. Looks like it is almost ready for trail traffic again.

I have spent a lot of time in Duluth and still I get awestruck. The variety of visual input that enters my brain is an entertainment for me. There are shady, mossy places with ferns and thin streams of water gently gliding around smooth round black stones. There are rivers rushing over jagged rocks cascading into white splashes and deep dark pools. There are wide vistas looking down on an industrial harbor. There are wide vistas with waves crashing against a rocky shore. There are city streets and tall buildings. There are tourist areas with boardwalks and bridges.

marina, big tube of erosion control and a sidewalk. bridges in the background
Hmmm, not very tourist-y looking without the people. This is the marina. It used to be the docking place of the big ship called the William A. Irvin. Let me know in the comments if you know where it has gone!

This hike was day three of my trip to Duluth. On day two my friend met me at the end of my hike at a restaurant called Burrito Union. It is literally on the Superior Hiking Trail where the trail transitions from woods to sidewalk. The next day she dropped me off in the same spot so I could continue following the same trail. Once I got to Lake Superior the trail followed the shore through Leif Erikson Park, Fitger’s, and Canal Park. My concern that I might lose the trail in the sea of tourist attractions was unfounded. Superior Hiking Trail signs with arrows were easy to follow.

map of Duluth with a red line to indicate the trail
Notice the detour around the marina because the pedestrian drawbridge was up

It was chilly and windy. Luckily I had a hood on my jacket to block the wind and I had some gloves in my backpack. They are thin gloves but that was all I needed. Once I started to climb the hill to Enger Park I did not need them anymore. Halfway up the hill it was so warm I took off the jacket and stuffed it in the pack. Be prepared for this if you come to the North Shore. Temperature varies greatly depending on how close or far you are from the Lake.

Paved trail under I-35 freeway.
Between Canal Park and the hill toward Enger Park is the freeway. This is how the trail gets under I-35.
Dirt path through tall grass up a hill
After a pedestrian bridge over another part of the freeway, the trail crosses the street and climbs the hill through the woods.

For these day hikes in Duluth I just used a regular school backpack although I am looking for a better daypack. The one I have is heavy even when it is empty. I would like to find one that does not make my back sweat and has multiple compartments to keep my food separate from the art supplies and bug repellent. Clips or pockets in front are needed for items to have in easy reach: water, pepper spray, phone, map, and whistle. I used a water bladder instead of a water bottle this time and I liked the convenience of it. No stopping to pull out a water bottle and put it back. I am sure it looked strange to others who did not know why a tube was sticking out of my backpack. I tried not to worry about that. I still had a backup water bottle in my pack because it is hard to tell when the water bladder is almost empty.

Usually on these long hikes I ponder the great mysteries of life. Not so on this day. My mind was occupied in simply looking for the next trail marker to reassure me that I was on the right path. Wouldn’t it be nice if real life had trail markers? Some reassurance of being on the right path would be helpful! Anyway, on this hike I was fully in the moment and that was exactly what I needed. I was noticing the weather, the temperature, the surroundings, the view, the sky, the sun, the bugs or absence of bugs, the traffic, the people, the trains, the boats, the buildings and the water. I noticed some people in Canal Park that seemed disappointed that it was not warmer. They were surrounded by beauty and seemed unaware of it. It confuses me when I see people dressed in shorts and tank tops complaining that they are cold. Did someone else pick out their clothes for them? Ah, but we should not judge. Everyone is living their life the best way they know how.

trail of rock steps overgrown with plants and surrounded by large boulders
Walking up the hill instead of starting at the top and walking down was the right choice. My steps were more stable and every time I paused to rest I turned around and was rewarded by an amazing view.
View of Duluth, Minnesota from the hill leading up to Enger Park. Lots of trees and a little bit of Lake Superior and Wisconsin on the other side of the bay
This photo does not do the view justice. It will have to do for now.

At the end of the hike was Enger Park which has a beautiful Japanese garden with a “Peace Bell”. It was given to Duluth by the city of Ohara, Japan. I wish I had arrived at the bell at a less busy time. It was impossible to ring it and then listen until you could not hear it anymore because someone else always came along and rang it again. Still, I rang it and listened. It signified the end of my three days of Duluth hiking. Now I feel refreshed and ready for whatever is next.

Japanese garden with a view of the Peace Bell in Enger Park Duluth, Minnesota
This is the view of the Peace Bell as the trail enters Enger Park. Lots of effort in maintaining the garden is evident and I appreciate it!
Ohara Peace Bell sign
The sign next to the Peace Bell, if you are interested…
dirt path and a tree with two blue blazes at the fork in the path
This is where I left the Superior Hiking Trail. It continues to the right if you want to go toward Lincoln Park. I went to the left to see the tower and stop for the day.
Enger tower, Duluth, Minnesota
Enger Tower is the tower that can be seen from most of the lower elevations in Duluth.
park bench with a quote and a take out coffee cup
I treated myself to a mocha latte from the food truck and sat on this bench to draw for awhile before heading home.

This section of the Superior Hiking Trail was the part I thought I would be the least excited about because of the city walking and tourists. I was pleasantly surprised. A wonderful day hike!

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