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How Duluth became the outdoor capital of the Midwest

Duluth's cred as a place for hiking, mountain biking and paddling keeps growing — for good reason.

By: Star Tribune, Amelia Rayno | April 30, 2017

Finally, we reached the top of the hill, sweaty and panting.

The sun had broken through the haze and the city below sloped lazily toward the blue mass of Lake Superior. From our viewpoint at Hawk Ridge, hanging above downtown Duluth, wildflowers bloomed and the image they framed seemed almost orchestrated.

“Pretty great, right?” said Jake Boyce, my guide, as he climbed off his mountain bike. “It never gets old.”

In the past few years, Duluth has exploded in popularity as an outdoor destination. But the picturesque panoramas are only part of the story. It’s the journeys to those spectacular views, as much as the views themselves, that are bringing record numbers of visitors to town.

With steep hillsides like the one I biked up with Boyce and sprawling Lake Superior, the port city is gaining new attention " both locally and nationally " as a place to hike, paddle and bike while remaining within the amenity-filled confines of a city. Awards have followed; most notably Outside magazine naming it “Best Town Ever” in 2014.

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