Friday, October 29, 2010

The "DWP Trail": Ely's Peak to 93rd Avenue West

My temp job for the week ended a day early and so I had a free day today. I decided that I wanted to do some hiking and see something new, but wanted to stay relatively close to home. After some thought, I settled on a hike along a portion of the unofficial "DWP Trail", the abandoned railroad bed of the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway. I figured I would start my hike at the Ely's Peak Climbers' Parking area and head towards Spirit Mountain. Noelle would not be able to go with me, but I still had a hiking partner in Parker.

At around 10 a.m. I grabbed some dog treats and a poop bag and we headed out to the car for the drive to the trail-head. I decided to take the road less traveled, in this case the far western section of Skyline Parkway. The drive, although bumpy, was very scenic. We arrived at the trail-head off of Becks Road by 11 a.m.

The hike started out a bit wet. The trail from the parking area to the old DWP railroad bed was like a small stream. When we reached to railroad bed the trail got a bit drier, but anytime the trail encountered a rock cut where there was not much drainage it got wet again. We walked through the dark, damp tunnel and headed east.

There were some nice views of Ely's Peak and some of the other high ridges.

Eventually the trail crossed several small streams on berms before crossing a more substantial stream on a condemned bridge.

While that first small bridge was scary to cross, the second bridge, a long steel trestle high over Stewart Creek was even scarier.

We made it across and then hiked until we reached a road, 93rd Avenue West. This would be our turnaround point. We started to retrace our steps at this point to the high bridge. I wanted to check out the creek the bridge crossed and found a faint trail leading down below. There were some small cascades on the creek and we enjoyed exploring below the bridge for a bit before hiking back up to the trail.

Once back on the trail, we carefully crossed the bridge and then found another faint path leading away from the main trail. It was an intriguing path and I decided we would follow it for a bit. It closely paralleled Stewart Creek and led to an encampment area that looked like a small version of the Ewok Village in Return of the Jedi. From the camp we walked down the slippery moss covered rocks to the bank of the creek and some small waterfalls.

We then headed up stream to see what lay ahead. We found some more small waterfalls and decided to follow the path even farther up the hill. Inevitably we ended up on Skyline Parkway which we followed for about 50 yards before finding another path which led back downhill and to the DWP Trail.

Once we were back on the DWP Trail we retraced our steps back through the tunnel and to the car. Our hike ended up being over 7.5 miles long, one of Parker's longest hikes ever. He did great!

View "DWP Trail" Hike in a larger map

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