FAQ

North Country Trail F.A.Q.

Before reading the questions below, we encourage you to watch our Introduction to the North Country National Scenic Trail video below.

General questions that we often hear from prospective hikers
Question: How is the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) different from other, long-distance hiking trails?
Answer: The NCT is very similar to other long-distance trails like the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and Pacific Crest Trails (PCT) in the nature of the trail (mostly a primitive footpath through natural settings) and the type of experience it provides.  A couple of big differences include:
  • The NCT is LONG…in fact, it’s over twice the length of the A.T. and 1.7 times the length of the PCT.
  • The NCT traverses a great diversity of landscapes with varying terrain.  These include the rugged Adirondack Mountains in New York, the great “Northwoods” forest, shores of the Great Lakes, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and the windswept prairies of North Dakota.
  • The NCT is not finished – i.e. there are still many roadwalks totaling roughly 40% of the NCT’s length.
  • There is not one guidebook or series of guidebooks that you can buy to plan a hike for the entire NCT.  Because of that, planning a long-distance hike is different than on other long-distance trails.
  • There is currently not a very strong long-distance or thru-hiking culture along the NCT but one is growing.
Question: Is the NCT well marked?
Answer: Yes, the NCT is generally well marked with paint blazes, trail signs, and Carsonite posts.  Generally speaking, you should not need a GPS unit to follow the NCT.
Question: What resources are there to help me plan a hike on the NCT?
Answer: The NCTA and our affiliate partners produce maps, provide trail data, and a variety of guidebooks exist to help you find a section of the NCT to hike on.
Question: Is water readily available along the NCT?  Does it need to be treated?
Answer: Yes, water is abundant along most of the NCT.  Unless signed, all water sources should be considered non-potable and water should be treated.

Question: Is there a fee to access or use the NCT?

Answer: No there is not one fee to access or use the NCT.  However, the NCT is hosted by many different  land mangers along its route. These include state natural resource agencies as well as federal agencies such as the USDA Forest Service.  These agencies often have access, parking and camping fees.  You can find a listing of our trail hosting partners for each section of NCT in the trail guide section of northcountrytrail.org.

Question: Where can I camp along the NCT?

Answer: There are numerous places to camp along the NCT ranging from primitive backcountry campsites to more developed campgrounds to rustic log shelters.  There are also many places where overnight camping is not allowed.  This policy is dictated by the landowner / land manager.  Be sure to check on the rules and regulations for the particular trail section your are interested in.  Visit our ArcGIS Online map and click on particular sections of trail to see if camping is allowed on that section.

Question: Is biking allowed on the North Country Trail?

Answer: In numerous places, the NCT follows a multiple-use trail that allows biking.  Elsewhere, primitive footpath sections of the NCT are hosted by many different land managers. These land managers work with the NCTA and the National Park Service to determine what uses are best suited on that particular section of trail. As a result most of the NCT is closed to Mountain Bike use.  For more information, visit our ArcGIS Online map and click on particular sections of trail to see if biking is allowed on that section.

Question: I would like to travel by horse on the NCT. Do you have a list of the sections of the trail that are open to horses?

Answer: The NCT is hosted by many land mangers along its route.  These land managers work with the NCTA and the National Park Service to determine what uses are best suited on that particular section of trail.  Much of the NCT is closed to horse use.   For more information, visit our ArcGIS Online map and click on particular sections of trail to see if horseback riding is allowed on that section.

Question: I would like to travel by cross country (XC) skis on the NCT. Do you have a list of the sections of the trail that are open to skiing?

Answer: Generally speaking, the NCT is open for backcountry XC skiing when conditions permit it.  Most of the NCT is not cleared to typical XC ski trail standards nor is it groomed.

Question: I would like to snowshoe on the NCT. Do you have a list of the sections of the trail that are open to snowshoeing?

Answer: Generally speaking, the NCT is open for snowshoeing when conditions permit it but snowshoeing on groomed XC ski trails is highly discouraged.

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