Duluth, MN

Several years ago I read about Duluth in a mountain bike magazine. In fact, it would be stories such as this feature that ultimately fueled much of what drives me professionally today: the constant pursuit of proverbial “diamonds in the rough.” While Duluth continued to gain notoriety in the years following that story, to me it largely remained a mystery situated on a lake I knew very little about, amidst a culture I knew virtually nothing of.  Then one day, I finally paid this place a visit.

Duluth is long and narrow, stretching 27 miles, rarely exceeding a mile at its widest point. Throughout the city and surrounding area you can find plenty of great trails to ride, and great places to refuel with a beer afterwards, but as I plan my next trip to Duluth, it’s the stuff on the west side of town I look forward to most. 

The Lincoln Park Craft District is home to some of the best flavors I can remember in a very long time. The area is loaded with great places to shop, drink and eat, especially OMC Smokehouse which might have the best BBQ I’ve ever tasted.  Just around block, Bent Paddle Brewery deserves a special nod as they’re ardent supporters of the local mountain bike community. In addition to producing top notch brews this convenient location is perfect if meat and beer help you with your post-ride recovery.  A few doors down you’ll find Lake Superior Brewing Co., Ursa Minor Brewing and Duluth Cider.  Amazing breweries populate the entire city, to see a full list check out www.visitduluth.com  (hyperlink to – http://www.visitduluth.com/things-to-do/breweries/) 

Trails on this side of town certainly match the quality of the beer and food as well, with three distinctive places to play aboard your bike. Piedmont is an all-mountain paradise, featuring trails with plenty of technical options including steep rock rolls, tight switchbacks, and loads of natural features to take off from. There is also Spirit Mountain Bike Park, which serves up the most progressive trails in the area, from hypersmooth flow and jump trails, to properly rowdy downhill tracks. If you’re looking for a more mellow experience on singletrack, then you should head to Mission Creek, where the mostly smooth trails provide miles of flowy and scenic fun.

A look at Duluth’s mountain bike and beer scene provides a glimpse at a deep-rooted history, an inspiring present, and a future as big as the lake this town was built upon. I for one am very much looking forward to my next visit. 

  • Brice Shirbach, Professional Mountain Biker