Ely’s Peak Trail – Duluth, MN 09/07/2019

Kid Perspective:

  • Running Wild – No concerns, but we did not make it to the end of the trail, so it is hard to truly rate.
  • The Trail – We encountered a brief boardwalk, stairs, gravel path, and a rock scramble.
  • Trail Conditions – The trail was in good shape, but not well marked at all. I am very unhappy to report that we saw a lot of garbage along the way. Very unfortunate.
  • Bugs and Pests – Nada.
  • Plants – Many pretty wildflowers along the way and towering trees.
  • Bathrooms – None.
  • Cell Service – Good – spotty in some sections.

Trail Information:

  • Length – Reported length was 1.8 miles but we did about a mile before we turned around.
  • Moving Time – Approximately 30 minutes.
  • Elevation Gain – Reported elevation gain 396 feet.
  • Difficulty – I would mark as Easy but again we did not make it to the end.


  • Combo – The cave!
  • Biff – The cave!
  • Blaze – It was poorly marked but it looked like it would be really cool if you could figure out how to get there. There was one satellite picture that showed where you were in the park but showed no indication of how to get to the peak.
  • Ripper – I enjoyed seeing the big boulders everywhere.

This weekend we were in Duluth to celebrate a Baby Shower for some of our good friends. Keeping that in mind, we had a brief window where we could go on a nearby hike in the morning, prior to the shower. We decided to go to Ely’s Peak for the cool views, short trail and short driving distance. The trailhead was at an unmarked parking lot and started with a short boardwalk. The kids were definitely excited to find a boardwalk right off the bat. We were a little nervous not seeing a map or any markings on the trail but thought we would give a shot anyway.

Following the boardwalk, we entered a heavily wooded area, with towering trees that led to a set of steep stairs that Minnie did have a little difficulty navigating (she has trouble with her hips). The stairs led to a flat, gravel path that was meant for speed. Biff was quite excited to bring his Batman cape along and soon was racing along the trail at full speed, attempting unsuccessfully to con Combo into being Batgirl.

The flowers along the trail were plentiful but were coming to the end of their blooms. I bet it is especially pretty when the flowers are in peak season.

We followed the gravel path to a point where the trail branched off in 6 different directions. A cave stood looming in front of us and of course we had to check it out! Walking a little distance into the cave we saw that there was light at the end of the tunnel and so we continued on to see if this was where we were meant to go. Biff decided to scale the cave wall and Combo was close behind him. The cave was really cool but awfully drafty and chilly. On top of that, there was quite a bit of graffiti and trash from party-goers, left behind…

The trail through the cave clearly was not our intended route so we backtracked to the six point divergence and tried again. We studied the map for several minutes and took what we hoped would be the correct path. A quick and rocky ascent had poor Minnie breathing hard and the rest of us scratching our heads…where was this trail going?

Still not on the trail that our GPS had marked for us, we climbed back down and decided to head out. We had such a short window to hike that we did not want to spend our time frustrated, looking for the correct trail.

Not each hike is successful, but it is the time spent with one another that is memorable. I will not remember the frustrations of this endeavor but will choose to remember the glee in Biff’s voice upon donning his Batman cape and racing along the trail, with Minnie close behind (his big protector). I will choose to remember their giggles and grunts as they attempted to scale the walls of the cave. And I will choose to remember the kindness of the hikers that pointed out that Biff had lost his cape in all of his excitement with Minnie. It is important to remember what makes you happy and to move beyond what frustrates you, even when those frustrations can easily cloud your memories with the negative. While I would not recommend taking this trail, I do not regret giving it a shot and enjoying the happiness that surrounded our adventure.

One thought on “Ely’s Peak Trail – Duluth, MN 09/07/2019

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