The North Country Trail stretches 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota

The North Country Trail (NCT) stretches 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota, including Pennsylvania. In 1981 the North Country Trail Association was established, and it continues as the overall nonprofit to develop, maintain, protect, and promote the NCT.

Although the NCT isn’t as talked about as some other long-distance hikes, such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, it is just as majestic. It starts in New York State, but stretches 4,600 miles along the northern tier of America, not stopping until it reaches the middle of North Dakota, in what feels like a completely different world than where it began.

Like other long-distance trails, there are large gaps where the trail is yet to be completed or connected, but the North Country Scenic Trail Association boasts a network of 39 chapters, partners, and affiliates across seven states who are devoted to seeing this trail to completion.

The Central New York Chapter of the Association has over 140 members, and they maintain their own Facebook page and meet-up group to stay active in the sections of the trail around the Syracuse and central New York area. The group coordinates everything from bird watching expeditions and recreational hikes to work days, and is invaluable to keeping the trail experience so beautiful.

Salmon Creek Falls on the Finger Lakes Trail portion of the NCT near Ithaca, New York

There are many ways that visitors experience the NCT:

• Many people use the NCT for a local day hike to explore a few miles of trail over a period of hours.

• Section hiking is also popular where hikers will take a multiple-day hike to explore more miles, perhaps 10-20 miles in a short trip.

• Long distance hiking is gaining in popularity along the NCT where hikers will take a period of weeks or months to hike hundreds of miles or even an entire state.

• Thru-hiking isn’t as common along the NCT due to the length of the trail, though a number of hikers have successfully completed a thru-hike.

• End-to-end hiking differs from a thru-hike, as hikers complete the NCT in sections as their schedule allows, often taking years to complete the entire trail.

For those who are in Syracuse in 2019 for the American Trails International Trails Symposium, don’t miss the perfect opportunity to visit the North Country National Scenic Trail as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act.

See maps, trail descriptions, and more about the North Country National Scenic Trail at

Reprinted from American Trails