Getting to Ely’s Peak can be confusing. I once took our small children on a dangerous route in which we climbed vertically up a sheer rock. While the perilous experience makes for great family lore – as in, “Mom, remember when you freaked out at Ely’s Peak?” — we wanted to find a safer way to the top of one of the highest peaks in Duluth.
We set out to explore the area once again on a recent fall weekend. We happened to pull into the parking lot at the same time as another family with kids about the same age as Daley (9) and Finley (5). We struck up a conversation, asking if they knew the best trail. Turns out the only information they could find was from the post I wrote on How NOT to Climb to Ely’s Peak (with a 4-Year-Old. Together, our two families spent the morning exploring the trails, the DWP tunnel, and Ely’s Peak (thanks, Andy, McKenzie, Jackson, and Jake!).
While I am no geographer or hiking guide, here are some tips. Hopefully, they will help you explore this beautiful area of Duluth.
Different Parking Lots/Different Access
There are two parking lots that give access to the tunnel and the peak.
Parking Lot #1
The first parking lot at 123rd Ave. W. is, from what we can gather, a Munger Trail access point.
Take Grand Ave. to Becks Road. Go 1.8 miles to 123rd Ave. W. — street sign was missing in early October 2016 (update: I just learned from a knowledgable follower that 123rd Ave. W. is no longer a city-maintained street so it will not have a sign). Go right for about a block to gravel parking lot.
From the parking lot, go right on the paved Munger Trail towards Duluth. After crossing a railroad bridge, and just before the trail enters a large rock cut, you’ll see the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) enter the woods on your left. Here’s the SHT sign.
Follow the SHT’s blue blazes as the trail winds up the hill. You’ll come to a fork in the trail and see this sign on a tree.
If you take the trail to your left, you’ll come to the tunnel. If you take the trail to the right, you’ll be taken to the peak. Watch for this spur trail sign to get to the actual peak.
There seemed to be a dog convention the day we climbed it. At one point, there were 8 dogs at the top. Everyone enjoyed meeting, Yoshi, the adorable English Pointer pup.
Parking Lot #2
This parking lot is not far from the 123rd Ave. West lot. You just continue on Beck’s Road, cross a railroad bridge, and it will be on your right. This lot provides the easiest way to the DWP tunnel.
From the parking lot, take the wooden pathway, ascend a staircase, and take the flat dirt path to your right. This trail is called the DWP trail and it will lead you to the tunnel in less than a ½ mile.
On our recent visit, the kids were thrilled to watch rock climbers scale one of the the entrances.
From the south end of the tunnel (the end you first came upon from the trail), you can reach Ely’s Peak by connecting with the SHT. There are four unmarked trails at the tunnel entrance. You’ll want the one to the lower right.
You’ll reach a fork with this sign.
Follow the SHT’s blue blazes to your left up the hill. The trail is a bit rugged, but totally doable for little tykes. All of the kids enjoyed the unique ladder bridge.
Again, watch for this spur trail sign to get to the actual peak.
May our tips help you enjoy a unique Duluth outdoor adventure. Happy trails!
Any tips on how to get to Ely’s Peak or the DWP Tunnel? Please share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!