Page 28

Cycling the Skyline

by Molly Brewer Hoeg

This is home territory. In fact, Skyline Parkway crosses the foot of my driveway. I grew up going on family drives along Skyline, a Scenic Byway that runs the length of Duluth at the crest of the hill. More recently, I’ve made it an annual cycling ritual to traverse its length, but this was the first time I’d truly done it end to end. Skyline Parkway was built in stages, primarily between the 1880s and 1940s. It grew from the center, reaching outward to the city’s east and west limits. As a result, there is great diversity in its environs. I was about to experience one of its Taking a break at Enger Tower. All photos by Jan Lasar extremes. Traveling from west to east, I started at Beck’s Road. This piece was new to me, but I already knew what lay ahead. As soon as I entered the Snively-Magney Natural Area the parkway became a rough gravel road with plenty of hills. But I was rewarded for the extra effort and bumpy ride with intense quiet, a patchwork of greenery shading the road, and wilderness seclusion. The view from Bardon’s Peak Overlook clinched it, commanding well over 180-degrees of scenery. Down below the St. Louis River snaked through the landscape, presenting a real-life map of its journey into the harbor. On that rare calm day, glossy smooth water mirrored its surroundings. The awe carried me up and down the hills through the Spirit Mountain recreation area and back onto blessed pavement. I tend to think of Skyline Parkway in sections, perhaps representing segments of construction and the loose connecAbove Smiley Falls, Molly Hoeg crosses bridge number tions that link them together. Once past the Thompson Hill seven on Seven Bridges Road. Information Center, I entered another woodsy stretch. But this was different. It was an urban wilderness. The road snaked atop the hill, teasing me with brief views of the river and harbor through the leaves or occasional gaps in the trees. Dipping inland a hairpin curve took me along Keene Creek, accompanied by the music of splashing water tripping over rocks in the woodland stream. For the longest time Enger Tower perched on the hilltop, a miniature turret in the distance. Yet suddenly I was there. A short hill took me to the base of the tower and the center of a lush Japanese garden. Visitors wandered the sculptured Bird’s eye view of Duluth’s east side at Hawk grounds and climbed the tower Ridge Nature Preserve. while I savored a break from cycling. Resting atop a giant boulder seemed appropriate. The same monolithic rocks are a signature characteristic of Skyline, lining the parkway as a protective barrier. Beyond Enger lay a transition portion, passing the center of town and the Park Point strip of land stretching out in the distance to enclose the Duluth harbor. This was Rock cut on Haines Road near Merritt Creek. 28 Fall 2018

Minnesota Trails

Profile for Minnesota Trails Magazine

Minnesota Trails Fall 2018  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded