Field of Orange Hawkweed

24th Avenue to Twin Ponds

One of my “bucket list” goals is to hike the entirety of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), a 296-mile unbroken trail from Jay Cooke State Park to the Canadian border. I’ve done a couple small sections without even knowing it—it follows several popular walking/hiking areas in town that already existed—and this weekend I added one more (on purpose). I took my puppy hiking on a 1.7 mile section that runs from Skyline Parkway to Twin Ponds through Enger Park. It was a lot of fun and my 7-month-old puppy absolutely loved it.

Rye Hiking the SHT
The plants on the right side were 8-10 feet tall and were growing on bamboo-like stalks. I have no idea what they were but they were impressive!

The trail itself is not more than a narrow dirt path for most of this particular section. It goes through a wooded area of Duluth that is mostly undeveloped (I did go past a long-abandoned basketball court with weeds growing as tall as me through the pavement). It goes up and down, but on the average it gradually goes uphill from the trail-head to Twin Ponds. It’s wider and covered with mulch in the area around Enger Park, but most of the time it’s a dirt path interrupted along the way with a few rocks so wear sturdy shoes.

Not too far from the 24th Ave trail-head the trail crosses Coffee Creek, a swift-running, clear and cool stream that Rye enjoyed splashing in. The day we hiked was hot and muggy, so a cool, clean drink of water for Rye was very welcome, especially on our hike back. I had brought 2 water bottles with us, but he finished his before the end of the hike so I gave him mine. He nearly finished that one too so the creek was a big help.

Coffee Creek crosses the SHT
Coffee Creek crosses the SHT

After Coffee Creek the trail climbs a bit to Skyline Parkway and Enger Park, with panoramic views of the St. Louis River along the way. At Enger Park the trail follows a path along the back edge for a short distance until it turns into the trees again and goes down a fairly steep descent to the ponds. If you’ve never been to Enger Park it’s worth some time exploring it, especially in the summer. The gardens are so beautiful and the climb up the tower ends with a spectacular view of Duluth, Lake Superior and the St. Louis River.

The St. Louis River and Spirit Mountain are visible in the distance from several points along this section of trail
The St. Louis River and Spirit Mountain are visible in the distance from several points along this section of trail

At the end of this section of trail is Twin Ponds, which is exactly what it sounds like. Two little ponds on either side of Skyline Parkway. One of them is a popular swimming area and the other is used mainly for fishing. This is where we took Rye to teach him how to swim. He’s still a little nervous about the swimming part, but floating toys are very motivational 😉 I didn’t have any with me on the hike but he still went in the water up to his chest and cooled off. After we both dried off a bit we started on our way back to the car.

Some of the beautiful flowers I found along the way. I don’t know what any of them are called
Flowers on the SHT 01
Flowers on the SHT 02
Flowers on the SHT 03

In total we hiked 3.4 miles (1.7 there and back) in about 1.5 hours, not counting breaks. Rye slept for a couple hours when we got home, very contented. He’s a cross between hunting dogs and working dogs so the extra exertion was good for him. He never slowed his pace for even a second—well, except to sniff something especially interesting.

And as always, people, please leave your dog on-leash. Dear Fluffy does not need freedom from a leash as much as he/she needs you to watch his/her back. Whenever a dog does something regrettable, the owner is always heard to say, “I just don’t understand. Fluffy NEVER does that.”

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