This morning I strapped Astrid to my back, leashed up Gru, and headed to our beautiful neighborhood trail along Tischer Creek. This is one thing I love about Duluth. There are trails along creeks in wooded areas nestled in around the city, complete with stunning waterfalls, peaceful pools, rock ledges, and bridges. The trail in our neighborhood is called Congdon Park, and goes from St. Marie Street near the University of Minnesota-Duluth, down to Superior Street. I only hiked half of it this morning, starting at the top at the intersection of St. Marie and Vermilion Rd, then turning around at 4th street. If I didn’t live at the top of the trail, I might choose start at the bottom and finish with the downhill hike. It’s quite a steep climb, especially with a 21 pound baby strapped to your back! After having some back problems this spring, I take it easy and rest about three times on my way back up the hill.

The trailhead at the top of Congdon Park Trail, at the intersection of St. Marie St and Vermilion Rd.

The trailhead at the top of Congdon Park Trail, at the intersection of St. Marie St and Vermilion Rd.

There are two trails you can take. The trail on the right is paved, and is farther away from the creek. The left fork is a dirt path that gets you closer to the creek. There are many spots where there’s a bit of trail that gets you even closer to the creek, but often the path will disappear or become part of a perilously rocky slope. These smaller footpaths closest to the creek still offer a great detour, and when you return to the main dirt path, you’ll still be pretty close to the water.

Today I took the dirt path down, and the paved trail on my way back up. In 2012, most of the trail was washed away by our historic flood, including the paved trail. The dirt was washed right out from under the pavement, and on the dirt path, sand and dirt were washed away to reveal lots and lots of rock and roots. While the paved path is now repaired, the dirt path still has places where the sand and dirt has washed away, leaving large, sharp rocks that can be difficult to pick your way through. It can be difficult to navigate, but it’s rewarding to be so close to the sparkling stream. Several waterfalls crash through ancient rock formations along the way, and green benches here and there invite you to sit and listen to the water for awhile. There are even a few good swimming holes.

Congdon Park was created when Chester Congdon donated the land on either side of the creek to the city of Duluth. He also donated the services of his architects, the same ones who designed the historic Glensheen Mansion. One of the stipulations of his donation was that the city would build a holding tank for sewage that was currently being dumped straight into the creek from residences in the Woodland neighborhood! Tischer Creek passes through Glensheen’s grounds, and Congdon wanted to use water from the creek to supply the mansion (Zenith City Online). A lot of the development that went into the park is in the lower part of the trail that I didn’t hike today, including bridges and stone stairways.

Someday soon I want to dedicate more time and hike the whole trail again. It’s been a long time since I have, but it’s definitely worth the time it takes. Even though it’s so close to home, it feels like its own little world. I have a little plan in my head to drive down to the Superior Street trailhead across from Congdon School, hike about halfway up, then stop at a nice place for a picnic. Then, we could finish the hike going all the way downhill, having gotten the steep climb out of the way in the beginning. Sounds pretty delightful to me!

Here are a couple of articles with more info about Congdon Park:

Duluth Parks & Recreation

Congdon Park on Zenith City Online

Here are some more pictures from my hike this morning. Click them to view a larger version.

If you head across the bridge on Vermilion and take a right on Lakeview, you can get a glimpse of Lake Superior.

If you head across the bridge on Vermilion and take a right on Lakeview, you can get a glimpse of Lake Superior.

This is the unofficial footpath on the other side of Tischer creek from the official trail. Gorgeous as well, though a bit steep in some spots, muddy in others, so I've skipped it so far when I'm wearing Astrid.

This is the unofficial footpath on the other side of Tischer creek from the official trail. Gorgeous as well, though a bit steep in some spots, muddy in others, so I’ve skipped it so far when I’m wearing Astrid.

Looking up the paved path.

Looking up the paved path.

Part of the trail where the dirt got washed away by the flood.

Part of the trail where the dirt got washed away by the flood.

Gru is looking particularly majestic.

Gru is looking particularly majestic.

Little waterfall near the top of Congdon Park Trail

Little waterfall near the top of Congdon Park Trail

Can you spot the two cairns somebody built in the middle of the stream?

Can you spot the two cairns somebody built in the middle of the stream?