There have been mountain bike trails in Lester, it seems, since the dawn of time. But they used to be a secret. Only found once you've pushed through twenty feet of brush to find the trails of Narnia waiting.
My, how times have changed. The City of Duluth has officially recognised the system and with that comes upgrading of the tread, expanding of the boardwalks and bridges, along with the best thing - MORE TRAIL!!
The summer of 2014 officially marked the opening of the first Duluth Traverse section in Lester Park. This beginner-level designated trail marks the eastern most section of the DT. But don't let "beginner level" lull you into a false sense of security. The new section runs 3 miles from the top of the ridge overlooking Lake Superior down nearly to the big lake's shore - dropping 400' in the process! It's a heckuva ride! Amazingly - the ride up is also a hoot! The layout allows for fast, easy climbing - and even a few descents on the climb! Combine this new section with the pre-existing 6 mile loop of berms and fast-flowing Lester singletrack - and you're in for a great ride! When your done - jump in the Lester River or go big and take an ultra-refreshing dip in Lake Superior - you'll never forget it!
With the relocation of Seven Bridges Road parking is pretty much limited to the lot off of lester River Road at the bottom of the system. Once the road is rebuilt - there are several small lots along it's length and a good sized gravel lot at the top. This top lot will eventually have a direct connector to the DT section running the length of Hawk Ridge - the views will be spectacular!
"Lester [which is how most Duluth riders refer to the ski trails] feels like North-Shore stream country," says John Morrison.
Which makes sense, because it is.
Like many other riders, Marshik, Glisczinski, Morrison, and Mike Reuter have great affection for a two-hour-plus (depending on route, speed, and rest particulars) ride that starts in Hartley Park, takes a connecter from Owatonna Avenue in the Woodland part of town to Jean Duluth Road, jogs over to Amity Road, and catches a horse trail that leads to the parking lot at the junction of Hawk Ridge Road and the top of Occidental Boulevard.
"Doing Hartley and Lester together is a great ride," Morrison says. "You can spend 90 minutes in Hartley, if you ride it really well, then take 30 minutes to get to Lester, then Lester can easily be another 90 minutes, depending on what you ride and how fast you ride it."
Morrisson says, "There are two or three places on that connecting trail, just little bumps, where you can catch a bunch of air."
He also cautions, "You have to be careful to avoid the crap on that horse trail. We were single-file on a ride with all our St. John's buddies a couple summers ago, and we'd lead guys behind us right into piles."
Marshik says, "The horse trail flattens out enough that it's a bit slow on a single speed. It becomes a social ride. After that brief section where Hawk Ridge Road meets Seven Bridges Road [Occidental] you can dip into the Amity singletrack [which is how the, uh, unofficial Amity singletrack is referred to], and that first 200 yards of trail is as scary and dangerous as any section of trail I've ever ridden. For me it's a benchmark. If I ride that clean, it's going to be a good ride."
"I always ride through that section with the expectation that it's going to cost me a hundred bucks in parts," Glisczinski says. "All points of contact are basalt, not wood. It'll cost at least three chainring teeth."
Marshik says, "To the east [down] it's expert level. To the west [up] it's beyond rideable."
"I always think, 'This could mean a broken hip,'" says Reuter.
Marshik continues: "So once you get through that, it's 20 yards on Seven Bridges, then a right turn into the hill that starts the singletrack–right across from the second bridge down."
From that point on it's flat-out flying!
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|Posted by: Pat on 08-14-2012|