Creating the Longest National Scenic Trail

The North Country Trail began as a U.S. Forest Service proposal in the mid-1960s. In 1968, Congress passed the National Trails System Act designating the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest Trails as the first national scenic trails. The Department of Interior was directed to study other proposed routes, including the North Country Trail, as potential national scenic trails. The 1975 study report recommended creation of the North Country NST as a component of the National Trails System.

In March 1980, Congress passed the necessary legislation and brought national attention to the outstanding scenic and recreational values of the trail and its route. The National Park Service administers the trail in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals, including many generous landowners. Its administrative responsibilities include overseeing the planning, development, protection, and maintenance of the trail; coordinating and assisting the activities of the many public and private partners; and providing technical and financial assistance to cooperating interests.

The National Trails System Act requires the actual work of developing, managing, and protecting the various segments of the trail to be a cooperative effort involving many agencies at all levels of government as well as private interests. Private volunteer trail organizations and individuals will have to accomplish most, if not all, of the work of developing and maintaining segments of the trail.

It Can’t Be Done Without You

The story of the North Country Trail is being written by dedicated public officials, non-profit trail organizations, citizen volunteers, private landowners, and you, who are captivated by the vision of the trail and the many experiences it will offer to those in the quest of North Country scenic treasures. You help write that story when you volunteer and join in the efforts to build, promote, and maintain sections of the trail.

Several major trail organizations assist the National Park Service and other public land managing agencies in developing, protecting, and maintaining the trail. The North Country Trail Association was formed in 1981 to organize and coordinate the massive volunteer effort necessary to establish and maintain segments across private lands, as well as assist public agencies in establishing segments on their lands. The association works closely with the National Park Service in promoting development, protection, and use of the trail.


Landowners along the route of the trail can make a significant contribution by giving permission for the trail to cross their lands or by donating or selling lands or easements for the trail. Financial contributions can help support and accelerate the activities associated with establishing and maintaining the trail.

Last updated: October 25, 2018