City of Grand Marais - Minnesota

USA Today's 2017 Best Midwestern Small Town, Budget Travel's 2015 Coolest Small Town in America & Lake Superior Magazine's 2015 Best Weekend Destination 

Grand Marais Pedestrian Plan


A pedestrian plan identifies the transportation needs of people moving at a walking pace in a defined geographic area and provides strategies to address those needs. “Walking” is an inclusive term that includes all people moving at a walking pace – with or without an assistive device. 


In the summer and fall of 2018, the City of Grand Marais, Cook County, and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) convened a steering committee to develop a pedestrian plan for Grand Marais. The Grand Marais Pedestrian Plan steering committee consisted of Bryan Anderson, Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, Jeff Cadwell, Heidi Doo- Kirk, Krysten Foster, Tim Kennedy, Patrick Knight, Andrea Orest, Mike Roth, and Maren Webb.


Members of the steering committee identified the following reasons for pursuing a pedestrian planning effort:

  • Address safety and accessibility
  • Discuss infrastructure needs
  • Outline existing practices
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Receive input for priority

  • infrastructure
  • Promote citizen health
  • Explore opportunities for the future



The action items in this plan rely on the City of Grand Marais, Cook County, the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 1, and property owners committing their partnership and resources to implement this collaborative vision for the Grand Marais community. These items are intended to be dynamic and to be updated in order to reflect changing interests about walking over time. An appendix supplements the plan and is available on the City of Grand Marais website. 


The following action items aim to enhance the pedestrian infrastructure network in Grand Marais.

  1. Leverage road construction, utilities work, and grant opportunities to update the pedestrian

    network over time to reflect desired walking infrastructure. (See below and Appendix.)

  2. For Walk-Friendly Corridors without adjacent sidewalks or trails, pursue context sensitive

    solutions to create a safe environment for people walking.

  3. Study road crossings of concern and develop a plan to enhance infrastructure in these areas.

    (See Appendix.)

  4. Reevaluate and update pedestrian infrastructure network desires every five years. 


The following action items address maintenance practices impacting walking in Grand Marais.

  1. Continue government snow clearing services for high priority sidewalks. (See below.)

  2. Evaluate sidewalks annually to monitor sidewalk conditions and maintenance needs.

  3. Communicate with property owners about their responsibilities to maintain the walking

    infrastructure network. 


The following action items aim to enhance the comfort of people walking in Grand Marais.

  1. Prioritize the Downtown District, Highway 61, 1st Avenue West, and 5th Avenue West for street

    lighting that enhances corridor safety and encourages walking use during low light hours.

  2. Develop a plan to strategically locate walk-friendly amenities (i.e. benches and wayfinding

    signage) to accommodate users.

  3. Encourage property owners to provide amenities (i.e. benches or Little Free Library boxes) along

    the street for use by passers-by. 


In September 2018, a community input opportunity asked community members what is important for people to access on foot in Grand Marais; an opportunity to share general ideas about walking was also presented. The input received is recorded in summary on this page and in full in the plan appendix, which is available on the City of Grand Marais website. 


The heat map below records community feedback when we asked, “Where do you want to get to in the city of Grand Marais?” As a geographically small community, the steering committee gave guidance that general community destinations should all be accessible by foot. The community feedback question was deployed on interactive boards stationed at popular locations around the community and at community events as well as in an online survey. These responses were collected in September 2018. 


The following topics were mentioned by community members who provided written comments about walking in Grand Marais. The numbers in [brackets] indicate how many times a topic was mentioned.

  • Construct new sidewalk/trail connections [26]

  • Enhance pedestrian street crossings [16]

  • Clear snow/ice from sidewalks [12]

  • Clear conflicts/obstructions from sidewalks [i.e.

    vegetation, motorists, bicyclists, snowmobilers] [10]

  • Enhance street corridor lighting [6]

  • Repair existing sidewalks [4]

  • Educate motorists about stopping for people in

    crosswalks [3]

  • Maintain existing on-street parking [3]

  • Rely on individuals to use headlamps instead of adding

    street lighting [3]

  • Eliminate private vehicles from Wisconsin Street [2]

  • Provide programming for people walking for

    recreation [2]

  • Address danger of unleashed dogs [1]

  • Educate people walking about safety etiquettes [1]

  • Eliminate pull-in diagonal parking from community

    due to safety issues [1]

  • Enhance storefront pedestrian access for community

Wunderbar Eatery

destinations [1] 

Funding for this project is provided in part by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Official Website for the City of Grand Marais, MN