May 7, 2012: Featured Trail: NMTC Point Pine Run
I know, doing a quick feature on an NMTC trail route is maybe a little more useful before the race. You know, so you can read up a bit, evaluate the course – maybe put together that winning race strategy. But, hey, who am I to take all the mystery out of it? Trust me, you'll appreciate the bliss of ignorance in a couple of weeks.
Now, I know many of you are old hands at the trails of the Duluth area, maybe you're also grizzled old NMTC veterans that are well versed on the trails we pull out of the quiver for the Wednesday night races. But, I trust there are some folks who are new to the series or the area that might appreciate the low-down on the trails. So, say you were too busy trying to keep your lungs from exploding last week during the race to fully appreciate your surroundings, or maybe you didn't make it out but are looking for an interesting place to try out your new trail kicks. Well, here we go...
NMTC runs tend to take on titles that reflect the personality of their course. So, while this route heads out to the end of what's commonly called Park Point, it was aptly named the NMTC Point Pine Run - as the title encompasses two important aspects of the surroundings.
First, the course follows Minnesota Point. So, we have the “Point” part covered, but let me throw this out there as well. Combined with Wisconsin Point, this stretch comprises the largest freshwater sandbar in the world. No kidding. Now that's a nice conversation starter at a party. The “Pine” aspect honors the fact that much of the run flows through old-growth White and Red Pine, some of which is over 200 years old.
The route follows the well-established Minnesota Point (Park Point) Hiking Trail, 2 miles out and 2 miles back. And I hear ya', you trail runners want an elevation profile. So, here you go:
OK, I kid. But not much. Not a lot of up and down here – 60 ft. of calf-crushing gain and loss over 4 miles, about a foot at a time. But, don't worry, the trail will throw in a little sandy surprise to make up for the lack of grade.
Along the way you'll note a couple interesting structures. Almost at the end stand the ruins of the Minnesota Point Lighthouse, constructed in 1858. It operated for 20 years under a single keeper before being abandoned in 1878. Nearby is the old U.S. Lighthouse Station Depot, a concrete structure that once was used to store buoys and the acetylene used in batteries for the lighthouse back in Canal Park.
And, of course, the trail's most distinguishing feature lies just north. I hear there's a big lake there...
So, enjoy the run, whether you're racing or not. Some nice flow, a bit of sand to keep you honest, and beautiful Lake Superior for the cool down.
How to get there: Cross the Aerial Lift Bridge and follow Minnesota Avenue until you run out of road (at the airport). A sign and opening in the chain link fence to the left indicates the start of the Minnesota Point Hiking Trail. The trail may split here and there, but eventually comes back in on itself. You can't really go wrong if you keep heading toward the point.
Ooooh, I like this idea!
Thanks for the tour! What a great idea - and sorry I didn't see it until tonight.
What a great idea Ron!!! Keep it up, and thank-you!!!
I just saw this...hilarious!