The Vermont Extension and Arrowhead Re-route
1) The NCT’s Vermont Extension
This extension into Vermont is the NCT route originally proposed in 1975 in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Potential Addition of the North Country Trail to the National Trails System. Back in the late 1970’s; however, Vermont did not want to bring additional traffic onto the Long Trail and asked that the NCT terminate in NY. This happened with the NCT’s designation under the National Trails System Act in 1980.
The route extension into Vermont was evaluated and identified as the preferred alternative in the National Park Service’s Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment, approved 2014 (download the document). The extension would add approximately 40 miles from the New York/Vermont border to meet with the Long Trail and eventually, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
This plan has widespread local support from agencies and groups like the Village of Middlebury, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, Middlebury Area Land Trust, Green Mountain Club, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
The plan does not adversely affect the rights of private landowners as the National Park Service only has the authority to purchase land or rights of way from willing sellers.
2) The “Arrowhead Re-route” in Minnesota
What is the Arrowhead Re-route?
The Arrowhead Re-route is an effort to officially designate a revised route for the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) in northeastern Minnesota. This change, which requires the approval of Congress, would replace a 100-mile stretch of trail route identified in the National Park Service’s 1982 Comprehensive Plan for Management and Use of the North Country Trail. The 1982 route lies between Jay Cooke State Park southeast of Duluth and the eastern end of the NCT in the Chippewa National Forest near Remer. Since the NCT was authorized by Congress in 1980, there have been no efforts to construct trail along this route because it contains extensive wetlands. It also lacks the outstanding scenery found along the Arrowhead Re-route.
Minnesota hiking and trail advocates proposed using the Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail, and Kekekabic Trail as components of a more feasible and scenic alternative to the originally planned route. The new route was evaluated and identified as the “preferred alternative” in the National Park Service’s “Northeastern Minnesota Route Assessment,” approved in September 2004. The revised route would be approximately 500 miles long (about 400 miles longer than the original route) and be located in exemplary “North Country” areas with world-class scenery, including Lake Superior’s North Shore and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Around 400 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail, and Kekekabic Trail would be incorporated into the new route. The NCTA anticipates approximately 140 miles of new trail construction to link Ely and Remer, Minnesota.
For a lot more background information, visit the National Park Service’s North Country National Scenic Trail web site to download the Northeastern Minnesota Route Assessment and Environmental Assessment.
Will you help out the NCTA by taking action?
To obtain more information or answers to any specific questions you may have about this issue, contact Matthew Davis at (701) 388-1883 /davis “at” northcountrytrail.org.