Looking for some big Duluth fun this winter? Take it from a resident, and consider Skyline Parkway!
A gorgeous route starting from West Duluth’s Magney-Snively Natural Area and winding 25 miles east to Brighton Beach, Skyline Parkway is a phenomenal place to kick off your winter adventures. Offering gorgeous opportunities for Nordic skiing along with unparalleled scenic overlooks great for checking out Lake Superior sea smoke, Skyline has it all.
Today, we’ll speak to a local resident, Laurie Mattson, who grew up on the western end of Skyline. She shares some great spots along the Parkway for cross-country skiing and phenomenal views.
First, let's explore the official word on the street with some history and highlights of Skyline, taken from the City of Duluth’s webpage.
A Bit of History
Construction began on Duluth’s Skyline Parkway back in 1889. Ten years later, Duluth mayor Samuel F. Snively began construction of an extension to the Parkway, in what is known today as Seven Bridges Road. Many extensions and connections were added along the way, culminating in Skyline’s designation as a State Scenic Byway in 2001.
From west to east, there are several popular highlights along Skyline, including:
Magney-Snively Natural Area - Encompasses an 1800-acre old-growth forest popular for hiking, cross-country skiing, and fall colors.
Bardon's Peak - Named after James Bardon of Superior, Wisconsin, this spot offers views of Duluth and the St. Louis River.
The scenic Stewart Creek Bridge was built around 1925. It is listed on the National Register, but its talented engineer remains unknown. It is well-known for its “jagged teeth.”
Spirit Mountain offers year-round recreation, including downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, an alpine coaster, mini golf, a zip line, and tubing.
Thompson Hill provides spectacular views of Lake Superior and Duluth. This is a great place to watch the sea smoke rise off the lake, or catch a sunrise or sunset.
Enger Park showcases Enger Tower, a five-story blue stone observation tower, providing panoramic views of the Twin Ports. The park includes a Japanese temple bell, gardens, and picnic areas.
Twin Ponds, part of Buckingham Creek, has long been a popular fishing and swimming destination.
Chester Park follows Chester Creek on both sides of the Parkway and includes hiking and skiing trails, a ski hill and a playground.
Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is a favorite spot for bird watchers and hikers during raptor migration, from August through November.
Seven Bridges Road runs from Hawk Ridge to London Road along Amity Creek. Yes, this scenic road really features seven bridges.
Kitchi Gammi Park (Brighton Beach) - This rocky, rugged beach at Skyline's eastern end lets you experience the lake up close; a great option for watching the sun rise over Lake Superior.
Tips from a Local
Duluth’s Laurie Mattson was born and raised on 100th Avenue West, along a lovely section of Skyline Parkway. She offers advice on some must-see spots along the route.
“The Magney-Snively Ski Trail starts at a parking lot going west past 99th and 100th Avenues West, past the Stewart Creek Bridge and the Mayor Snively memorial,” Mattson shares. “The lot is on the left side of Skyline, not far from the bridge. It is stunning, and I would say it is a good choice for intermediate skiers. Of course, Spirit Mountain is a big draw along west Skyline Parkway, and there are cross-country ski trails which begin in the campground area.”
She continues, “Going east along Skyline Parkway when you leave Spirit Mountain, you cross over I-35 on an overpass, and that leads to Thompson Hill, where the view is spectacular. You can see St. Louis Bay, and the Spirit, Clough and Whiteside Islands.”
On the eastern side of town, Skyline offers great cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails at both Chester Park and Lester Park; just look for the signs!
Check it Out!
If you’re looking for a great place to enjoy the winter trails or catch a magnificent view of the Lake, consider Skyline Parkway. An absolute jewel in Duluth’s crown, Skyline offers year-round views and plenty of opportunity for big adventure.
For a great interactive map, check out the app on the Facebook page “Friends of Skyline Parkway"