North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest of all the National Scenic Trails which were authorized by the congress. Like its fellow trails, the Appalachian, Florida, Natchez Trace, Continental Divide, Pacific Crest, Ice Age, and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trails, NCNST was created to provide calm recreational activities in one of America’s most amazing landscapes.

When the Trail was established in 1980, portions of it were designed to follow the already existing Finger Lakes (New York), Baker (Pennsylvania), and Buckeye (Ohio) Trails. Their sponsoring organizations became affiliates of the North Country Trail Association and agreed to maintain those portions of their trails to be used by the North Country National Scenic Trail. The Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association joined later to help create a link between the Buckeye Trail in Ohio and newly-constructed trail in Michigan; the Superior Hiking Trail Association and the Kekekabic Trail Club joined when it was proposed that the North Country National Scenic Trail route through Minnesota be changed to include an already-completed section of the Superior Hiking Trail along Lake Superior, and the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails along the Canadian border.

The NCNST also threads its way through 57 state parks and state historic areas, 47 state forests, 22 state game areas, seven state water conservation districts and at least ten county forests and parks. Several hundred miles of trail eventually will also cross private land thanks to owners who have granted easements across their property. Existing and new sections of the NCNST are generally limited to foot travel, including hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Other non-motorized uses, such as bicycling and horseback riding are generally limited to areas specifically designed to withstand such use.

The trail is primarily managed as a long-distance trail for hiking. Cross country skiing can also be done on the trail but the tread is not particularly smooth. Skiing is recommended during which time a crust has already formed on top of the snow. Dog-sledding is also allowed in some areas. The NCNST stretches more than 4,600 miles from Crown Point in East New York to Lake Sakakawea in western North Dakota. It is administered by the National Park Service and managed by federal state and local agencies. It is also maintained by the North Country Trail Association volunteers and its partners.