Happy Trails: Brewer Park is tough but worth it for the views

·4 min read

Jun. 11—When looking for new trails to hike in the Northland for this project, I did what anyone in this day and age would do. I opened Google Maps and typed in "trails." That's how I learned about Brewer Park in Duluth's Cody neighborhood.

Brewer Park is special because not only is there a Superior Hiking Trail loop, but the Duluth Traverse Trail runs through there and connects to a multi-use loop called the Home Brew, which is managed by Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, or COGGS.

When I showed up at the trailhead off Haines Road, I had every intention of hiking the Superior Hiking Trail loop only, but when I got there and saw the signs for the Duluth Traverse multi-use trail and the Home Brew, I decided to check out that trail, too.

The Home Brew is used by mountain bikers, so if you are running or hiking, I suggest you leave your earbuds in their case so you can hear when a cyclist is coming. Safety first, people.

Also, isn't the whole point of leaving the house to experience nature?

But if you need the music to distract you from the noises of sticks breaking under the weight of a possible Bigfoot, then stick to the Superior Hiking Trail loop, which is for foot traffic only.

The Brewer Park loop on the Superior Hiking Trail is about 3.5 miles. The loop on the Duluth Traverse trail and Home Brew is about 3.7 miles.

Having hiked both, I would say the Home Brew is easier because the trail is well-groomed, and for someone like me who is not the most coordinated person, there are fewer rocks and roots to stumble over.

Byron Kuster of Moose Lake, 63, had just come off the trail at the Highland Street trailhead when I met him. We bonded over something crazy that happened while we were there and got to talking about the trails and the area.

He said the different features on the Home Brew are why it's one of his favorite trails.

"I like it because it's the right level of challenge for me," he said.

As a person who doesn't know much about mountain biking, I'll defer to Kuster's assessment. Kuster said an advanced beginner could probably ride the trail, but the difficulty of some features is why he likes it so much.

"There are enough features, like a rock pile that I'll try to ride up or something I've got to kind of hop up, is what I like about it," he said with blood on his arm. "I'll spend quite a bit of time sessioning or practicing on those parts of the trail."

As for the Superior Hiking Trail loop, if you start on the Highland Street side, be prepared for what Glenn Maloney of Duluth calls a "totally brutal" start to your hike. The trail follows along Keene Creek awhile before heading up the hill.

This side of the trail has a portion where you need to hold on to a line to climb down, and then you are met with quite a few stairs up a hill. There is nothing I hate more than stairs on a hiking trail. I can't explain why, but I get annoyed every time I come across them.

If you start on the east side of the loop you'll also have to cross West Skyline Parkway, so be careful.

When I was up there, I saw a person on a motorcycle going back and forth on that road, popping wheelies. So I suggest starting from the Haines Road trailhead. There's a tunnel that takes you under the busy road and keeps you safe from traffic.

This hike probably is too difficult for a young child, but for older hikers, it is definitely worth it. The view of the city from the top is, as always, amazing and calming. I could just sit on a rock and look at it all day. I bet it would be even better in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

Have a favorite trail you want us to check out, drop us an email at outdoors@duluthnews.com with the subject line "Happy Trails."

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