Magney-Snively Natural Area

Written by K. Hart at
bridge at Magney-Snively Natural Area
nature signs
hilltop view
gushing creek at Magney-Snively Natural Area


If you're a nature lover or seeking solace outdoors, set your sights on the Magney-Snively Natural Area.

The thriving ecosystem is home to a diverse mosaic of wetlands, uplands, and rock outcrop communities, making it an ecological powerhouse for nature enthusiasts.

Named after former Duluth mayors Clarence Magney and Samuel F. Snively, the Magney-Snively Natural Area boasts a long-standing tradition of preserving Minnesota's native flora and fauna. 

The area was almost forgotten until the early 1970s when the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area (SMRA) was created. The parks were revived as part of this development and have since become a beloved part of Duluth's landscape.

One of the key features of the Magney-Snively Natural Area is its old-growth northern hardwood forest, which has been the subject of long-term studies. 

These studies have tracked the growth and changes in the forest's tree and sapling populations over several decades, providing invaluable insights into the dynamics of these ancient woodland habitats.

Fun Facts & Cool Features 

The Magney-Snively Natural Area is a place of tranquil beauty and a hub of activity and discovery. 

For those who love winter sports, the area features a hilly 13-kilometer cross-country ski trail. With a classic track and a skate lane, this trail offers a thrilling experience for intermediate and advanced skiers.

But perhaps the most intriguing feature of the Magney-Snively Natural Area is the historic Ely's Peak. Located just past where Spirit Mountain is today, Ely's Peak is a distinctive formation that has become a favorite among hikers and climbers. 

The peak offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a rewarding destination for climbers.

Another fascinating aspect of the Magney-Snively Natural Area is its biodiversity. The park is home to approximately 10 native hemlock trees, a rare sight in Minnesota. 

These trees contribute to the area's unique ecosystem and are a testament to the park's commitment to preserving native species.

Whether you're an avid hiker, a winter sports enthusiast, or someone who appreciates nature, the Magney-Snively Natural Area offers something for everyone on a Twin Ports vacation. 

Getting There

To reach the Magney-Snively Natural Area from Twin Ports, Minnesota, follow these directions:

  • Start by heading south on I-35 S.
  • Take exit 253A for 40th Ave W toward Grand Ave.
  • Turn right onto 40th Ave W.
  • Continue onto Grand Ave.
  • Turn left onto Becks Rd.
  • Continue onto Spirit Mountain Rd.
  • Arrive at the Magney-Snively Natural Area on the left.


The Magney-Snively Natural Area is open to the public and has no admission fee. 

If you plan to ski on the trails, a Great Minnesota Ski Pass is required.

  • Adults aged 16-61: $25 annual pass
  • Adults aged 16-61: $10 daily pass
  • Seniors aged 62 and over: $20 annual pass

Prices are subject to change; check their website for updates.

Local Tips

  • The area is most beautiful during fall when the leaves change colors.
  • The park is an excellent place for bird watching, so bring binoculars.
  • The trails can be challenging, especially after rainfall. Wear appropriate footwear.
  • Don't forget to visit the Snively Monument located within the park.
  • During winter, the park's ski trails are a must-try.


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