The Willard Munger State Trail is a collection of three multiple use trails roughly stretching between the towns of Hinckley and Duluth. The three trail segments include the HinckleyDuluth, Alex Laveau Memorial Trail
(which are joined in Carlton) and the Matthew Lourey State Trail
, also known as the Boundary segment, and which lies to the east of the other two trails. The trails offer a total of 160 miles for hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The trials pass through some of Minnesota's most scenic areas, following the route of the railroad that saved many lives during the notorious Hinckley and Cloquet fires in the 19th century.
The Hinckley-Duluth segment of the Willard Munger State Trail stretches more than 60 miles between central Minnesota and the state's gateway to Lake Superior. The trail follows the historic 19th-century route of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad that carried goods and passengers between the Twin Cities and Duluth. As it's completely paved and relatively flat, the pathway is perfect for bikers, walkers and in-line skaters in the warmer months, and snowmobilers and cross-country skiers in the winter.
Along the way, trail-goers will enjoy stunning natural scenery, especially the northernmost 15-mile section between Carlton and Duluth. Here, you will travel through rocky cliffs and over the St. Louis River gorge. The trail skirts the northern edge of the Jay Cooke State Park, whichwith its pristine forests, waterfalls and swinging suspension bridgeis definitely worth a stop.
The southern portion of the trail (Hinckley to Carlton) offers open views, rural landscapes and rustic towns. River crossings, lakes and ponds add to the picturesque backdrop. Shortly after passing the town of Willow River, you'll travel through the gently rolling terrain of General C.C. Andrews State Forest, a beautiful respite with its tall stands of pine, birch, aspen and oak trees.
Parking is available at the southern trailhead in Hinckley, 1 block north of the Hinckley Fire Museum at the intersection of Highway 61 and County Road 18.
At the northern trailhead in Duluth, parking is available at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 75th Avenue West.
Along the way, trail-goers can also find parking in the towns of Finlayson, Willow River, Moose Lake and Barnum.
I took three days to ride the trail out-and-back, covering the entire trail twice.
Overall, the trail surface was excellent with newer pavement around the Duluth trail head area.
Most of the ride is straight riding with very little variation in ...