north country trail map
Map of the North Country Trail, taken from

Many Americans, as well as most hiking enthusiasts abroad, have heard of the famous Appalachian Trail. Well, the North Country Trail is its lesser-known bigger brother. The NCT is over 4,600 miles (7,400 km) in length, and traverses the distance from Crown Point in eastern New York State to Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 Congress-approved National Scenic Trails in the United States, and it passes through parts of 7 different states.

Key Facts:

  • The trail is relatively young, receiving authorization in 1980, and there are many segments of the trail that are still being certified.
  • Most of the trail is currently limited to foot travel (skiing is allowed), but there are some areas that allow biking and other non-motorized methods.
  • The NCT passes through seven states: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota
  • The NCT passes through 10 National Forest areas, including the Finger Lakes in New York, Allegheny in Pennsylvania, Wayne in Ohio, Manistee, Hiawatha, and Ottawa in Michigan, Chequamegon in Wisconsin, Superior and Chippewa in Minnesota, and Sheyenne National Grassland in North Dakota.
  • The North Country Trail also winds through 57 state parks and 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.
  • The eastern trailhead of the North Country Trail is only a few miles from Vermont’s Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail, and there is a movement to connect the NCT to the Appalachian Trail, which would make one giant trail over 6,100 miles long.
Wren Falls on the North Country Trail, in Iron County, Wisconsin. Taken by Wikipedia user MDuchek.

For more information, check out the North Country Trail Association or the National Park Service website.