2022 Trail Renewal Projects Update

July 28, 2022

By Annie Nelson, SHTA Development and Communications Director

Volunteer Jerome Lemke uses a McLeod to build new tread on the Bean and Bear Reroute.
Volunteer Jerome Lemke uses a McLeod to build new tread on the Bean and Bear Reroute.

There is a rhythm to the work of building new Trail. Lift up the McLeod, then let it drop with a satisfying thump to pack down the freshly turned earth at your feet. Thrushes singing in the trees provide the soundtrack (along with the hum of a few mosquitos). Lift, thump. Lift, thump. A trickle of sweat runs down your neck. Another volunteer on your crew asks a question. Lift, thump. Lift, thump. And before you know it, a brand new tread is winding away from your feet.

“When I run or hike over a section that I’ve built, it’s the best feeling in the world because my sweat and hard work went into this section. It fills your heart with joy. Come volunteer!” says SHTA Volunteer Crew Leader Steph Hoff.

We at the Superior Hiking Trail Association would like to express our deep gratitude to everyone who has volunteered on a Trail Renewal Project this season. We’ve had an amazing response to our requests for volunteers. Here’s a rundown of what volunteers and staff have accomplished so far, and how to get involved on our last two projects for the season, and our Intro to Trail Work events.

Bean and Bear Reroute 

More than 1,200 volunteer hours were contributed during the Bean and Bear Reroute, which opens this weekend. More than 50 volunteers helped us move the Trail from a chronically wet area to higher and drier ground, which will make the Trail more sustainable and user friendly. This reroute will also reduce our impact on the surrounding environment as we use the Trail. Any time we can get the Trail out of the mud, we have less impact on the environment, and our boots stay cleaner. – Barbara Budd, SHTA Volunteer and Education Coordinator

Spruce Creek Abutments Build

Thanks to the dedication of a group of returning and new volunteers, we were able to successfully finish completing both abutments. They are level, square, and very solid. Most importantly, we did the work safely (that takes commitment from each volunteer) and had a good time doing it. The abutments were part one of a two-part project to replace the bridge over Spruce Creek. – Tamer Ibrahim, SHTA Trail Operations Director

Woods Creek

Four days and 300 volunteer hours finished a 300-foot reroute to move the Trail away from an eroding bank on Woods Creek. This project also featured our first-ever, single-identity work days that invited people who identify as female or femme-leaning non-binary to volunteer together. – Barbara Budd, SHTA Volunteer and Education Coordinator

Duluth Projects

Larry Sampson has hosted more than 20 Trail Work sessions in the Duluth area since the spring. Volunteers have contributed hundreds of hours weed whipping, clearing the Trail of brush and trees, and completing structure replacements including boardwalks, puncheon and stairs. Larry needs help with projects each week through the fall. To sign up, register here. – Barbara Budd, SHTA Volunteer and Education Coordinator

Future projects

Mystery Mountain Rehabilitation

This worn and muddy section of trail will be improved as a two-part project with professional Trail Builder Tim Malzhan, Trail Eyes LLC. Part one of this project will involve hardening the trail surface with aggregate, splitting, moving, and placing large rocks in wet areas, prefabricating and staging wood for boardwalk and bridge construction, hand-crafting trail drainage features, and reshaping tread to shed water and renew the trail.

There will be roles for all ages and abilities. Free camping for participants will be available at Cascade River State Park. Registration for Mystery Mountain will open the first week of August. We are hoping to recruit 20 volunteers per day, Sept 20th-24th. Volunteer one day, a couple days, or the whole project. We value all levels of contributions! Phase two of this project will happen in 2023.

Intro to Trail Work

Come out to learn what it takes to maintain the SHT Friday, August 19th or Saturday, September 10th. An experienced crew leader will give you pro tips on how to keep brush and water off the trail. No experience necessary! All tools and training will be provided by SHTA. Expect less than a 1-mile hike from the trailhead to the project. Both training events will occur in the Duluth area. To sign up, register here.

We were so glad to see returning volunteers from previous projects, and to meet our new volunteers. We hope to see you all again soon. Thank you so much for donating your precious time and contributing to make the SHT a better, more resilient, trail! – SHTA staff