With now over 22 miles of singletrack in some of Duluth's most remote pockets of forest, the Mission Creek trail system has our full attention for maintenance and improvements. Here are a few key ideas we have in mind for Mission Creek:
Improve Sustainability: look for any major slopes that could wash out and stabilize them with necessary erosion control devices and add vegetation to previously disturbed areas
Trail Surface Upgrades: Repair areas where trail rutting has become excessive, harden areas with groundwater seepage issues, and stabilize any bridges that have heaved or settled
Wayfinding: Continually add and update trail maps and signage
The Fun Factor!: Explore opportunities to add features of varying difficulty to the trails, such as rock gardens, wood features, and B-lines
As volunteer interest continued to grow, COGGS was able to begin scheduling regular trailwork outings this fall and the results have been fantastic! Things started in late August with a huge boost from the Minnesota Power Foundation. In one outing, a team of Minnesota Power employees managed to construct two entry-level rock gardens, lay out 200 feet of erosion control material, and re-set and stabilize all of the bridges along the Cathedral trail. Thank you to Minnesota Power for their 4th consecutive year of lending a hand on COGGS trails!
As fall [pre-winter] rolled in, our volunteers battled rain, cold, and even a little bonus snow, but nevertheless got some heavy lifting done during the fall Sunday trailwork series. Our first efforts were centered around a bridge on the 131st Ave W trail that had washed out in a big summer storm, which involved the heroic task of hauling over 1,000 lbs. of lumber nearly a mile up a hill and deep into the woods. Hats off to Greg Jarvis and Brad Thygeson for lending their carpentry expertise for this project, and to the six hearty souls who spent their afternoon helping us take care of this much-needed improvement!
We were also able to re-purpose the old bridge atop the 131st Ave Ridgeline along with several nearby boulders to improve some chronically wet and muddy sections of trail. Using these boulders was key to improving the trail stability while also adding a bit more flavor to an intermediate-level trail.
Our final efforts of the year brought us back to the Lower Cathedral trail, as we re-seeded and spread out another 200 feet of Erosion Control blanket over some of the steepest slopes along the trail. Lower Cathedral was the first trail built in Mission Creek in 2014 and after four seasons of use it was time to do a strong solidification effort along the trail backslope. We owe a huge thank you Kate Waring for her knowledge, research, and leadership in addressing some of these environmental improvements in Mission Creek this year.
It's been very exciting to have established some efforts in Mission Creek this fall, and we think this is just a small preview of what's to come. We began to see a local volunteer base grow, and we got to see several new people join our cause in building the Mission Creek trail system. 2019 promises to have a huge variety of volunteer projects lined up - from maintenance to mapping to feature building, we will have something for every type of trail volunteer. Mission Creek is now put to bed and awaiting its first snowmobile grooming, but we hope to see you out next summer!