Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Urban trail passes major Great Lakes landmarks in northeast Wisconsin

The Osaugie trial runs 5.2 miles, mostly along Superior Bay.
Photo courtesy of  travelwisconsin.com

Osaugie Trail
runs alongside
Superior Bay

Urban day hikers can learn about the heyday of Great Lakes shipping on the Osaugie Trail in northern Wisconsin.

The 5.2 miles one-way trail passes several landmarks on the city of Superior’s waterfront. Most day hikers will find enough to do on the now paved, former rail line that they’ll need to break the walk into segments done on a couple of different days.

Begin the expedition by parking at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. The center is at 305 E. Second St. near the U.S. Hwys. 2 and 53 intersection.

Upon parking, walk to the waterfront and look northwest to take in the view of Superior Bay. You may be lucky enough to spot one of the huge oceangoing ships that use the channel on their way to or from the city’s docks.

Pair of museums
Next, stop at the veterans historical center. It features several exhibits about Richard I. Bong, America’s top World War II flying ace, and houses the actual Lockheed P38 Lightning he flew.

The trail southeast of the historical center parallels the channel separating the mainland from a sandspit. Looking northeast toward Lake Superior, the peninsula across the waterway is Minnesota.

Upon reaching Marina Drive, take a side trip by heading northeast to Barker’s Island. There you’ll find the S.S. Meteor Whaleback Ship Museum, a freighter built in Superior about 120 years ago. It was the last of a fleet of whalebacks that once carried cargo to other inland ports on the Great Lakes.

Doubling back to the main trail, continue southeast. Barker Island is to your left. As you come to that island’s southeast end, you’ll spot rail lines on the left as well as piers. Following that is Hog Island.

The trail next crosses the Nemadji River, which is colored a deep, muddy brown. Large amounts of red clay wash into the river from upstream, giving the Nemadji its hue.

World’s largest ore docks
Past the river are the world’s three largest ore docks. The longest one runs 2244 feet and stands 80 feet high; it can hold 100,000 long tons of ore, enough to fill 1435 train cars. It is from these docks that the famous S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald set out on its last voyage in November 1975.

Beyond the docks, the trail enters a residential area. It then crosses Bluff and Bear creeks, both of which flow into Allouez Bay.

On the bay’s far side is scenic Wisconsin Point, a sandbar with miles of beaches. The Superior Entry Lighthouse sits on the sandbar directly northeast of Bluff Creek; this is the point in which ships using the city’s docks enter and leave.

The trail ends at Moccasin Mike Road.

A multipurpose trail, the Osaugie also can be used for bicycling and in-line skating. It is handicap accessible.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.