Bridges, Blazes, and Buckets Bring Trail Season to an End


Bridges, Blazes, and Buckets Bring Trail Season to an End

November 18, 2019

As the ground underneath the Superior Hiking Trail has frozen over the past few weeks, we’ve received the seasonal signal: it’s time to switch gears from trail work and begin preparing for 2020. In lieu of hibernation, we’re shifting our focus on to planning, prioritizing, and permitting projects to be ready again next spring.

But as we look back on the last few weeks of the season, there’s a lot of great accomplishments to report. Here are several highlights from projects recently completed by our crews:

Blue Blaze Blitz: Round Two

Have you noticed the brighter blue on SHT blazes? Many sections were re-blazed during the October Blitz. 📸: Dan Dorland

In early October, 51 volunteers took to the Trail in force, equipped with re-purposed Talenti jars full of blazing paint, brushes, and a mission — to restore the fading blazes of the SHT. Over a weekend, these enthusiastic volunteers put in over 550 hours improving the basic signage that marks the route of the Trail and assures trail users they’re still on the right path. This followed the July Blitz, which benefited from 26 volunteers contributing nearly 420 hours of blazing. Thanks to this great effort, most of the SHT has now been re-blazed.

For many of our blazers, the blitz was their first experience volunteering on the SHT, and they let us know they appreciated the opportunity to give back without slinging rocks and mud on the Trail. While we don’t plan to host another blitz next year, we do plan to offer more opportunities like this to engage new and experienced volunteers alike.

Special thanks to Buck’s Hardware Hank (supplies), Castle Danger Brewery (beer tokens for volunteers, help with blazing), Finland Co-op (supplies), Marshall Hardware (supplies), Marty Anderson (instruction video production), National Park Service (supplies), Michael Loscheider and Steph Hoff (Talenti jars), and Voyageur Brewing (beer tokens for volunteers).

New Bridge Finished

Sturdy new steps — wider and longer than most SHT bridges — were installed on the West Fork Kadunce River bridge in October.

Over the past two years, SHTA crews have worked to build and finish a sturdy new bridge over the West Fork Kadunce River gorge north of Grand Marais.

This bridge is a thing of beauty. It’s built to withstand many decades of pounding boots and trail runners. It also features a few nice touches, like handrails and wide steps on the approaches to the bridge that were installed just a few weeks ago. These long, wide steps, which replaced temporary ramps, should allow for more confident footing when slick from rain or snow and better accommodate snowshoes for winter hiking.

Old Bridge Also Finished

SHTA crews recently helped dismantle the Fredenburg Creek bridge, which failed due to old age and a busted stringer.

Many SHT bridges are nearing the end of their operational life. This summer, the Fredenburg Creek bridge gave up the ghost when one of its log stringers busted and left the bridge susceptible to collapse.

In October, volunteers Chad Benesh, Lill Raynard, Chris Meehan, and Eric Jundt helped trail operations director Tamer Ibrahim safely dismantle and remove the bridge. Next year, we aim to replace the bridge with a natural crossing (stone steps) to ensure easy passage by trail users going forward.

Cirrus Aircraft Crew Helps (Move) A Ton

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Yesterday, a crew from @cirrusaircraft joined us to complete two projects on the #SuperiorHikingTrail in Duluth: a trash clean-up at a scenic overlook near Amity Creek in Downer Park, and a trail hardening effort on the new route down the hill from the Brewer Park loop. Starting at daybreak, the Cirrus crew helped to remove over 1.5 tons of garbage and debris from a steep hillside below a scenic overlook the #SHT (and another site on city land). Then, they joined our volunteer crew to spend the afternoon bucket brigading 2.5 tons of rock and gravel uphill to harden wet spots on the Trail. 4 tons later, the Trail is cleaner and more sustainable! Big thanks to the crew from @cirrusaircraft for dedicating a day of work on the SHT, to our partners at @duluthparksmn for facilitating both projects, and to our Duluth volunteers who keep on improving the Trail we love. These projects were also supported by a grant from the @extremeterrain Clean Trail Project. 📸: Patti Waseen and Jaron Cramer

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Special thanks to the Cirrus Aircraft Crew and Duluth Parks and Recreation for their help with both of these efforts. The Downer Park Clean-up project was also supported by a grant from the Clean Trail Initiative Program.

Reroute Complete at Pleasant View Road

SHTA volunteers were joined by a crew from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit of Duluth to complete the short reroute project.

With new development of lands near the Trail by Pleasant View Road in Duluth — and more likely in the future — we recently completed a reroute project to move the SHT into a protected corridor. The SHT now shares a short section of snowmobile trail to cross the road, but new footpath was built on both ends to reconnect with the original route.

The section of new trail was built under the guidance of Duluth trail renewal consultant Larry Sampson with the support of volunteers and an enthusiastic crew from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit of Duluth, who dedicated their Community Give Back time to the Trail.

Pincushion Mountain: New Route Opening This Winter

Dirt Candy’s Adam and Mica Harju have made major progress building the new SHT route at Pincushion Mountain this fall.

This fall, trail building contractor Dirt Candy got a big jump start on building the new three mile route of the SHT at Pincushion Mountain in Grand Marais. The new section of footpath will finally move the Trail off of cross country ski trails to the delight of hikers and skiers alike.

Work will continue on this project next year — there’s still over a thousand feet of boardwalk to buildbut we’re pleased to announce the new route will officially open to winter travelers when the ski season begins. Grab your snowshoes and check it out!

Special thanks to the US Forest Service for purchasing and hauling materials and providing major assistance with this project. This project is made possible by grants from the Federal Recreational Trails Program and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust fund.