Skiing at Bagley Nature Area: Nearly free and always fun

Smack dab in the middle of eastern Duluth is the only ski trail that costs a quarter to ski…if you’re really fast. Most people should bring three quarters. 75 cents buys you 60 minutes of parking at UMD’s Bagley Nature Area. That’s enough time to ski the 2.7 lovely kilometers of loops and hills twice. 
The trail is right next to the UMD campus and dormitories. The school has done a great job grooming the trails and keeping walkers off them. Check out the latest reports on

The East Loop is supposed to be “easy”, though there is a brutally steep dip down into the creek valley followed by the steepest possible climb back up. Many skiers side-step up the hill.

The West Loop is rated more difficult, and has a very long climb up the back side of “Rock Hill.” That may be the longest climb for any ski trail in Duluth. Step a few meters off the trail at the top and enjoy one of the best views of Lake Superior around (note the ore boat in the iced-over lake, 500 feet lower and miles away).

The trail runs through mature sugar maple forest. Although you’re surrounded by the campus and busy roads, the trail feels pretty wild and remote. Hard to believe you plugged a parking meter to ski here!
How to get there:
From I-35, head up from the 21st Ave. E. exit to Woodland Avenue. Turn right on Woodland. Take St. Marie Street from Woodland Avenue in eastern Duluth to the Bagley Nature Center parking lot near the Oakland Apartments. The right lot is labeled “Lot T2”.


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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow is that slick! What a campus.
    UMD rocks! Even a view to boot.
    I wish I was 19 again and attending a college this would fit me just fine.

  2. samh says:

    You should consider cross-posting some of your Duluth content on Perfect Duluth Day. I think people there would appreciate your fine journalism. And it would probably gain you a few new readers.

    Thanks again for another fine post. This coming from someone who no longer lives on the shore but still appreciates it’s majesty and charm.

  3. Perfect Duluth Day is a really nice
    web site and seems to capture Duluth’s quirky and unique
    culture that exists if you seek it out. Grandma’s at Canal Park
    is fine but get to the other hidden gems up on the Hillside and neighborhoods.

What do you think?