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Cross Country Ski Trail progress on Duluth’s Grand Avenue Nordic Center

Grand Avenue Nordic Center cross country ski trails

John Morton (orange pullover) covers some trail design challenges with the group on the proposed Grand Avenue Nordic Center trail at Spirit Mountain. | ERIC CHANDLER

DuluthJohn Morton, founder of Morton Trails, and Noah Brautigam, trail designer and GIS analyst with Morton Trails, visited Duluth, MN in October to continue design work on the proposed Grand Avenue Nordic Center cross country ski trail. Morton made a previous visit to Duluth in May 2015 when he laid out an initial “first draft” for this 3.3 km trail working with Gary Larson, of Gary Larson Sports LLC.

Morton and Brautigam started their visit early on a Monday morning by walking the proposed loop with Larson and many other stakeholders in the design. They met at the Grand Avenue Chalet at the base of Spirit Mountain with the following people: Matt Ryan, Duluth Cross-Country Ski Club (DXC) board of directors; Jody Ream, Spirit Mountain general manager; Cory Salmela, DXC capital campaign director; Chad Salmela, College of St. Scholastica running coach; and Eric Chandler, DXC member.

All walked the proposed course discussing factors in the design, including wetlands mitigation, tree removal choices, snowmaking system design, electrical power and lighting issues, and overall trail layout choices. Morton described one interesting design challenge early in the walk: to make a trail that is welcoming to the general public but that could, when possible, also meet the homologation standards for major competitions. Homologation is the process where a trail must meet certain technical specifications (e.g. how many climbs of certain sizes, trail width, etc.) in order to host major competitions. This is one of Brautigam’s areas of expertise.

Morton described some of the progress that took place during the week via email: “We were able to get a lot done on our recent trip to Duluth. We reestablished and made several refinements to the flag line that represents the rough centerline of the proposed, 3.3 km loop just off Grand Avenue. Then while I marked the trees to be removed for that trail with forestry paint, Noah and Gary explored the terrain between the Grand Avenue loop and the Spirit Mt. Nordic Trails, just above Skyline Parkway.”

This is part of the long-term effort to connect the new Grand Avenue Nordic Center with the existing Spirit Mountain, Duluth, MN, system.

To donate to the first Nordic ski trail in Duluth with snowmaking, or to learn more about the DXC Capital Campaign visit,—Eric Chandler


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