Recreational Programming

Hartley Nature Center offers recreational programming for adults throughout the year. This includes gear rental, introductory lessons for recreational activities (ski lessons, bike lessons), small weekly socials (group bike rides, group ski social), and community events (Candlelight Ski, Global Fat Bike Day, Trails Fest). Below you will find descriptions of our recreational programming for the current season (not inlcuding community events, or gear rental). We will update this page as new events or programs are added, or when a new seasons begins.

SPRING Recreation Programming (March 2024-May 2024)

Spring 2024

May 9, 2024 – It’s beginning to feel like the trails will never open. April brought quite a bit of rain, and other than on a few outlying days, the trails have been closed for the better part of a month. That being said, we are finally getting close! We would guess within a week or two trails will be open for the first time in a long time. To see the most up-to-date trail conditions check out the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores website here. Unforunately it means much of our spring porgramming and has been canceled. During the downtime, we’ve been planning a lot of activities. Check out the list below for upcoming spring and summer recreational programming opportunities.

Iditarod Trail by Bike – And Other Stories of Endurance and Perseverance From the Trail – May 30th, 2024

Join Hartley Nature Center on May 30th, for a group bike ride followed by a presentation by local Duluthian Leah Gruhn, who became the first Minnesotan to complete the famed 1,000-mile Alaskan Iditarod Trail by bike in 2023, and has recently returned to Duluth after completing the trail a second time. Leah, who’s completed the Arrowhead 135 ten times (and is a subject in the film 40 Below), completed the Tour Divide race which follows the 2,745-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, has also competed in many local and regional gravel races. Come hear about Leah’s experience on these trails, and how Duluth (and Hartley Park) have played a role in her becoming the biker she is today. More information can be found at hartleynature.org

Group ride will start at 6pm, followed by the presentation at 7pm. Riders should feel comfortable biking green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) level trails in Hartley Park at a slow to moderate pace. Hartley (fat tire) bikes and helmets will be available for rent for the event. Light snacks and beverages will be provided for the presentation.

Summer 2024

Social Pedal – Weekly Group Bike Ride for Beginners – June-August 2024

Join HNC every Thursday, June 6th through August 29th at 6pm for our free Social Pedal mountain bike ride. Social Pedal is not just beginner friendly, it is a ride that is designed specifically for beginners. What does that mean exactly? Most no-drop group rides say all ability levels are welcome, but too often beginners leave feeling like they were just holding everybody else up. Social Pedal fosters an environment where beginner riders are encouraged and supported, not left behind the rest of the group. It’s a place where beginners can ask questions about gear or trail ettiquette without feeling embarased that they don’t know the answer to the questions they ask.
Experienced ride leaders will choose a pace, route, and length of ride that is suitable for beginners, while also being there to help with mechanical issues or other problems that might occur. Our Social Pedal rides will generally be slow paced and short mileage. We will mostly be riding a combination of Old Hartley Road Trail, which is a relatively wide gravel trail, and the beginner level multi-use (Mountain Bike) trails of Hartley Park. Experienced riders are welcome, but must be willing to help foster an environment of support. Youth, accompanied by an adult, are welcome, but the rides will be geared more towards adults than kids. No experience is necessary, though a moderate level of fitness can be helpful. Mountain biking may require maneuvering around or over small rocks, roots, and other obstacles, and even beginner trails can be more challenging than riding on a sidewalk or road.
A limited number of bikes (fat tire) and helmets are available for rent for those who do not have a bike. While heavier, slower, and less maneuverable than mountain bikes, fat tire bikes can be good for beginners due to their increased traction and stability. Meet outside HNC just before 6pm. More info at https://www.facebook.com/events/819140366937397/

Introduction to Mountain Biking Classes – DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

Are you looking to get into mountain biking, but don’t know where to start? Are you a new mountain biker that is confused by terms like enduro, singletrack, green level trail, etc…? Maybe you’re an experienced biker that is looking to make the switch from the road to dirt. If any of these situations sound familiar, then this might be the course for you.

Our beginner level mountain bike course is designed with the novice in mind. Class participants will learn about bike equipment, trail safety & etiquette, and basic bike skills. The lessons will consist of some classroom instruction, skills practice, and trail time. Our goal is to introduce you to the sport of mountain biking, teach you the fundamental skills needed to get out on the trail, and help build confidence that will inspire you to get out and practice more on your own.

Hartley Park has some of the easiest multi-use (mountain bike) trails in Duluth and is a great place for beginners to learn. Our course will spend time on Old Hartley Road Trail, which is a wide, flat, gravel trail that is great for learning basic biking skills. We will then progress to the green (beginner level) Tunnel Trail and Pines Loop, both of which are relatively flat and smooth single-track trails, that are a great introduction to biking on dirt.

Individuals must be 15 years old (under 18 must be accompanied by parent or guardian) to participate and should have a moderate level of fitness. Mountain biking may require maneuvering around or over small rocks, roots, and other obstacles. During a beginner level lesson, we may cover anywhere from 2-3 miles of riding, with some groups covering close to 5 miles of trail. While we will be traveling at a relatively slow pace, mountain biking is not without danger and falls can happen.

Cost is $15 for HNC members, and $25 for non-members. Price does not include bike, which can be rented for $15 (50% of our normal rental rate). Hartley’s bike fleet consists of fat tire bikes, which will generally be heavier, slower, and less maneuverable than their mountain bike counterparts, but can be a good bike for beginners to learn on due to their increased traction and stability. Helmets are required and are included with bike rental (extras will be available at no charge for those with a bike but no helmet). If you bring your own bike, it must have front and rear handbrakes, and all components need to be in good operating condition. 27.5” or 29” tires with at least 2” width are recommended. HNC reserves the right to request bike rental if the bike that is brought does not meet our standard.

Hartley Trails Fest – Date TBD

Hikers, bikers, runners, and more. Come celebrate all things trail with HNC and a group of our partners. These partners all help to make recreation in Hartley Park possible. Come learn about each organization and what they do, and then participate in an activity sponsored by those same organizations. During this free event you will be able to participate in group bike rides, guided hikes, yoga sessions and more. Stay tuned for more information on the 2024 event!


Past Season Programs and Events

Spring 2024

  • Intro to XC Skiing Lessons
  • Earth Day Park & Trail Clean Up

Winter 2023/2024

  • Winter Trails Celebration Kickoff
  • Tuesday Fat Tire Weekly Bike Ride
  • Sip & Ski weekly social ski
  • Hartley Candlelight 2024
  • Intro to Cross Country Skiing Lessons
  • 218 Days

Fall 2023

  • Thursday weekly group ride
  • Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day 23
  • Hartley Park Stewardship Fest 23

Summer 2023

  • Roll with It – Bike film screening and summer trail kickoff ride
  • Thursday weekly group bike ride
  • Hartley Park Trails Fest 2023

Spring 2023

  • Earth Month – April 2023
  • Living the Change Film Screening
  • Wildflower Hike
  • Hike the Divide Film Screening
  • MAEE Bioblitz