This scenic 25-mile drive stretches right across the top of the city. The marked route roughly follows the ancient Lake Superior shoreline some 600 feet above today’s lake surface. Though the central portion of the drive passes through Duluth, most of the parkway leads through forest and past rushing rivers and waterfalls.
You can access the east end from Superior Street at Lester Park and the west end at Becks Road near Gary–New Duluth. The popular eastern section is known as Seven Bridges Road, a narrow unpaved route with not seven but nine stone-arch bridges and the most scenic of the roads many scenic overlooks.
Also along the eastern portion is the Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve (Skyline E. & 52nd Ave. E., 218/428-6209, www.hawkridge.org), a 315-acre hilltop natural area. People flock from all over the country beginning in mid-August, when tens of thousands of migrating raptors follow the air currents along the Lake Superior shoreline on their way south for the winter. Over 100,000 broad-winged hawks were once counted in a single day.
The best viewing is usually from early September through October between about 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and some still pass by as late as December. During the migration, Hawk Ridge naturalists conduct research and offer free educational programs for the general public. The rest of the year it’s still a worthwhile destination for the 2.5 miles of hiking trails.
Enger Park (16th Ave. W. & Skyline Dr.), near the middle of the parkway at 18th Avenue West, should also not be missed. A historic rock observation tower rises five stories from the city’s highest point, and a Japanese garden, picnic area, and several secluded overlooks surround it.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition