The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the United States, sharing the designation of the famous Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. It travels across 7 states, beginning at Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota stretching all the way to Crown Point State Historic Site in New York at the Vermont state line. At around 4600 miles, it is by far the longest of the National Scenic Trails, being more than double the length of the infamous Appalachian Trail. The long length of the trail makes thru-hiking it a challenge. To successfully complete it in one season a hiker would undoubtedly be starting in winter conditions at one end of the trail. Presently only three people have thru-hiked the entire trail, with many more completing it in sections over several years. The three thru-hikers are Ed Talone (1994), Andrew Skurka (2004-2005), and Eb Eberhart "Nimblewill Nomad" (2009).
After beginning at Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota the trail roughly follows the Sheyenne River Valley, crossing into Minnesota at Fort Abercrombie State Park. The trail then travels through the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" up to Grand Rapids, where it temporarily follows the Mesabi Trail, a paved bike trail that ends near Ely. A hiker then must hike across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness using the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails, joining the Superior Hiking trail at an overlook of the Pigeon River. Following the SHT along it's entire length the trail crosses into Wisconsin just southeast of Jay Cooke State Park where the NCT traverses remnants of the ancient Penokee Mountains with overlooks of Lake Superior. Crossing into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Ironwood the trail traverses the Porcupine Mountains and parallels Lake Superior for much of it's length then crosses the Straits of Mackinaw to the Lower Peninsula. In southern Michigan the trail leaves the north woods and travels through more developed areas including the heart of the NCT in the town of Lowell where the NCTA staff work hard to ensure the future of the trail and advise hikers. The trail crosses into Ohio at Territorial Road and follows the Buckeye Trail for most of its route through the state, passing near several historical sites and following fairly close to the western, southern and eastern borders of the state. East of Beaver Creek State Park the trail enters Pennsylvania where it again enters the north woods and hooks up with the Finger Lakes Trail at the New York State Line. The FLT offers many spectacular gorges and waterfalls as it threads it's way toward the Old Erie Canal. Leaving the FLT near Syracuse the trail follows the Old Erie Canal towpath to the town of Rome, then threads it's way to Adirondack Park. Home of 5000+ foot peaks Adirondack Park is mostly a wilderness area larger in area than Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite and Great Smokey Mountains National Parks combined. The eastern terminus is a few miles east of this vast wilderness at Crown Point State Historic Site at the Vermont state line. Plans are currently underway to extend the trail into Vermont to connect to the Appalachian Trail via the Long Trail.
Officially designated in 1980 the North Country Trail has had a long and complex history, including the Arrowhead Reroute Legislation http://northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/advocacy/arrowhead-re-route/, which would reroute the NCT in Minnesota from the original 1980 route between Remer and Duluth that would traverse swampy public land, to instead traverse the Iron Range and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and travel south along the Superior Hiking Trail to join the original route at Jay Cooke State Park. A reroute of this size would require an act of Congress http://northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/advocacy/arrowhead-re-route/take-action-on-the-arrowhead-re-route/, as the NCT is administered by the National Park Service. Current issues include permanent protection of the trail, obtaining easements from private landowners, and increasing awareness of the trail.
Luke Jordan grew up on an old farm in central Minnesota about 30 miles from Minneapolis. In high school he joined the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and ended up qualifying for the State Meet and achieving All-Conference honors several times. He graduated in 2008 and attended college at St. Cloud State University to pursue a degree in Ecology and Natural Resources. In college he again joined the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and competed for two years while taking his general studies courses. At the beginning of his third year he finally took off his running shoes to concentrate on his degree. During this time he started getting into backpacking and volunteered on trail construction crews for the Superior Hiking Trail every summer of his college years. During a family trip to the Northwest Angle region of Minnesota he even inherited his trail name, when he was asked to slow down because the others could not keep up with his long strides. In December, 2012 he graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree. Now with his college years behind him, he is ready to strap on his pack and begin a grand adventure over the North Country National Scenic Trail. This website is dedicated to this purpose, and is available for friends, family, and anyone else who discovers the journey along the way to follow along.
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