WHAT IS THE NORTH COUNTRY NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL?
In March 1980 Federal legislation authorized the establishment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NST) as a component of the National Trails System. It is one of only eight trails authorized by Congress to be National Scenic Trails. National Scenic Trails are long distance, non-motorized trails.
In many ways, the trail is similar in concept to the more widely known Appalachian Trail--both are NST's. In other ways, it is uniquely different as it crosses a more diverse geographic area.
WHERE IS THE NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL?
The North Country NST will extend through 7 states, from the vicinity of Crown Point, New York, to Lake Sakakawea State Park, on the Missouri River, in North Dakota, where it joins the route of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The trail crosses New York, western Pennsylvania, eastern, southern, and western Ohio, both peninsulas of Michigan, northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.
HOW LONG IS THE NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL?
The best current estimate is that the North Country Trail will be between 4,200 and 4,500 miles long when completed.
WHAT USES ARE ALLOWED ON THE TRAIL?
The North Country Trail is built primarily for hiking, backpacking and pleasure walking. In winter it is open to snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing. However, in some places other uses such as horseback riding and bicycling are appropriate and are allowed.
Local landowners and land managers determine the uses that will be allowed in accordance with their management objectives and the capability of the land to accommodate the various uses without damaging the natural resources. Private landowners are free to restrict the use of the trail to foot travel only or may allow camping or picnicking for example.
CAN BICYCLES BE USED ON THE TRAIL?
Both the National Park Service (NPS) and the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) have adopted policies encouraging local managers to prohibit bicycling except when the trail is: (1) specifically designed for wheeled vehicles, (2) where the bikes would not damage part of the North Country Trail route, (3) where bicycles could be physically restricted to the designated section, and (4) where bicycle use would not adversely affect the recreational experience of hikers. These conditions generally are not found on the typical, single-track, forested and rural segments of the North Country Trail.
In recent years, the National Park Service has refused to certify any new portions of the trail that allowed bicycle or horseback riding except in those rare circumstances where specifications 1-4 (above) have been met.