Duluth making gains on 100-mile mountain bike trail

A group of Duluth cyclists is 35 miles along on its ambitious quest to build a 100-mile single-track mountain bike trail across the city called the Duluth Traverse.

Matt Evingson and Justin Martin ride a section of the Duluth Traverse mountain bike trail. (Photo courtesy Adam Sundberg)

Last year the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) opened five miles of new trails. This year the group plans to open 20 additional miles by July, said COGGS Chair Adam Sundberg, a chiropractor in West Duluth.

But the trails are expensive to build; as much as $40,000 per mile if built by a professional trail contractor, which the group has to hire to qualify for state and federal grants.

COGGS has received a $250,000 state Legacy Fund grant, a $150,000 federal recreational trails grant, and gets $100,000 annually from the City of Duluth. That local investment is part of a larger strategy embraced by Duluth Mayor Don Ness to build trails and other outdoor quality of life amenities designed to lure young, educated professionals.

COGGS also just received a $30,000 matching grant for its upcoming fundraising gala from Duluth company Loll Designs to hire a larger local trail crew.

At the current pace, Sundberg estimates the entire trail could be completed in five years, at a cost of about $3 million. While Park City, Utah boasts over 100 miles of mountain bike trails, the trails are outside of town. The Duluth Traverse will be a ribbon of trail along the ridge that runs the length of the city.

“Everyone who lives in Duluth is going to be within five minutes of some part of the Duluth Traverse when it’s all done,” said Sundberg. “That’s what’s unpreceneded.”