The most notable and famous U.S. hiking trail is the Appalachian Trail, but it is not the longest. The longest trail is the North Country National Scenic Trail which begins at Crown Point, New York in the Adirondacks and ends at the Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota.
Longest National trail is the North Country National Scenic Trail
When completed, the trail will cover between 4,200 to 4,600 miles and travel through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The trail already has more completed hiking miles than the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is 2,180 miles; whereas the North Country National Scenic Trail is over twice that length, but currently only half of this is on traditional hiking trails as the rest travels over roads.
Should have hiked the North Country Trail when it was shorter
When I was a kid I did a lot of hiking with my Dad in Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. In Wisconsin we did some hiking on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. We dreamed of hiking the whole trail. We also had the 60 mile North Country Trail in northern Wisconsin on our radar as well.
My dad and I should have completed it when we had the chance, for the state trail in Wisconsin has now blossomed from a 62 mile trail to an over 4,000 mile national trail through seven states. When the idea of the national trail sprouted in the 1970s and was passed in 1980, the name came from the Wisconsin Trail that went through the Chequamegon National Forest.
Hiking the North Country Scenic Trail in Michigan and Wisconsin
In the past year, I have had the pleasure of hiking two sections of the North Country Trail. One section was the Brule and St. Croix Historic Portage Trail in the Brule River State Forest. The other was the Little Carp River Trail in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have now hiked 8 miles of the trail, so I only have 4,592 miles to go.
The North Country National Scenic Trail ends 40 miles west of the Appalachian Trail. There is discussion about linking the two trails, but this will probably take a few years before it comes to fruition if it does. The National Park Service is doing a feasibility study before it is presented in Congress and it would need Congressional approval, which these days is not so easy to obtain. Democrats and Republicans can argue about anything.
Some interesting stats on the North Country Trail:
- The North Country National Scenic Trail passes through 3 National Parks, 12 National Forests, and 1 National Grassland.
- The North Country Trail is one of 11 national scenic trails in the United States.
The other 10 are:
New England National Scenic Trail
If you would like to donate to help the development and the stewardship of the trail, please visit the North Country Trail Association.
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