North Country Trail (NCT)


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Tick off seven states along the North Country Trailthe longest continuous trail in the National Trails System. At 4,600 miles in length, there is plenty to discover.

Distance: 4,600 miles

States: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Vermont (coming soon!)

Year Established: 1980

Best Times of Year to Visit: Year-round

Photo courtesy of the North Country Trail Association.

Notable Spots Along Trail:

  • In Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the trail follows sculpted cliffs offering scenic views of Lake Superior.
  • Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio features towering cliffs, cool sandstone caves and mighty waterfalls, plus vibrant wildflowers in spring and foliage in fall.
  • One of the first areas to be designated as federal wilderness, in 1975, the beautiful Rainbow Lakes Wilderness in Wisconsin still provides a remote wildlands experience, with 6,583 acres of forest and lakes to explore.
  • If you are lucky, you’ll hear gray wolves howling at night in the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge—one of only two national wildlife refuges along the route.

Fun Facts, According to the North Country Trail Association:

  • The trail includes Michigan’s 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, which spans the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. These miles can only be walked one day each year as part of the Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day, when one side of the bridge is closed for pedestrians.
  • Only 16 people are known to have walked the NCT’s entire length in its history.
  • The route incorporates several other beloved trail systems like the Buckeye, Finger Lakes, Superior Hiking, Border Route and Kekekabic trails.

Photo courtesy of the North Country Trail Association.

Trail Uses: Hiking, backpacking and other foot travel is allowed its entire length. Other non-motorized uses, such as bicycling and horseback riding, are generally limited to designated areas.

Administering Agency: National Park Service

Nonprofit Partner: North Country Trail Association

Permitting Information: Permits vary among local, state and federal land management agencies. More information.

REI Stewardship: The co-op has invested more than  $109,000 in the NCT since 2006.

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Learn more about all of our national scenic trails.