Hello all! I’m coming at you today with a hiking guide for Congdon Park Trail, located along Tischer Creek in Duluth, MN. Nearly seven million people visit Duluth every year, and yet, this trail only has 15 TripAdvisor reviews. It’s a very well-kept secret! As a local, I’m often asked for hiking recommendations. There are so many trails in this city, essentially hiding in plain sight. This one is tucked into a residential neighborhood. Websites like alltrails.com don’t even mention some of our best trails, including this one. So, I’m sharing an inside look at one of my favorite hidden gems!
Locating the trailhead
When we moved to Duluth in 2016 – our real estate listing noted that we were just a block from this trailhead. After some quick unpacking, we ventured out to explore what quickly became a daily walking path for us that year. There isn’t a parking lot dedicated to this trail. I recommend parking at the Mount Royal Fine Foods grocery store and then locating the trailhead at the intersection of St. Marie Street and Vermilion Road. The parking lot is circled in green and the trailhead is marked with a yellow ‘X’ in the photo below.
You could start at the other end too, located at Superior Street and 32nd Avenue East. I prefer starting at Mount Royal, however, because the trail is a lot more impressive on the Superior Street end. I prefer to hike in a direction that gets better as you go.
What you’ll see
This trail has a lot to offer! There is a creek, with tidepools and waterfalls, that follows the full length of the trail. As you move along, you’ll notice a distinct ‘canyon feel’ develop. You’ll also notice several 1930’s bridges amongst the billion-year-old volcanic rock walls. People swim and fish in the creek. The path is gorgeous in any season. On the Superior Street side, you’ll see several bridges, During the winter, I advise wearing Yaktrax for safety on the ice.
This trail has 3 options. 1) If you have a stroller or aren’t wanting to concentrate too hard, stay on the blacktop. 2)Scoot down closer to Tischer Creek — there is a gravel path that runs parallel to the blacktop which puts you closer to the water. 3) Walk right next to the creek, which provides the best view, but calls for paying closer attention to your footing, and definitely holding hands with any small children
It’s a pretty easy trail! I’ve hiked it while carrying a baby, with my 5-year-old nephew, and with my Mom while she had a chemo port in her stomach. I will note that the trail has a decent incline. For this reason, I have never ever seen anyone biking up the trail, despite it being paved. I saw a cross country team training on it on time, going uphill, and they did not appear to enjoy their workout that day! Going down is nice and easy, and going back up is slightly more work. If you get tired, there are plenty of benches where you can stop and rest along the way.
Chester Congdon who resided with his family at Glensheen Mansion developed this trail. There are similar bridges on the Glensheen estate, and restoration efforts are underway to reconnect the estate trails with this one.
Also note, while this trail is in town, there are bears and deer in these woods. Deer in Duluth act like dogs — they aren’t too scared of people. For this reason, you might have to walk around them — they will not skitter away like most deer in the world. While I have not personally seen a bear on this trail, the year my yard butted up against it, we saw a bear in the yard three times.