North Country Trail Association

Celebration Schedule

There are many events and activities that you’re welcome to participate in!

Register for the event itself, then select the activities you’d like to participate in!

Registration is open until September 14, 2022.

Be prepared! All hikes will occur rain or shine. Cancellation will only occur in the event of severe weather. Please pack and dress appropriately for rain or even snow; layers are recommended as cooler temperatures are expected this time of year.

October 3-5

October 3-5, Pre-Celebration

Pre-Celebration Ely Trip
Visit the charming Boundary Waters gateway community of Ely, Minnesota. The NCTA Kekekabic Trail Chapter will facilitate participants being able to hike on the famed Kekekabic Trail (“the Kek”) in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Other sites will include likely future NCNST destinations in the Ely area. Registration for this trip is separate of main Celebration activities taking place October 5-9.

  • October 3: Participants should plan to meet for the Hikers Social (location TBD) in downtown Ely at 5:00 p.m. Ely is located literally near “the end of the road” so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach it by car. It’s a two-hour drive from Duluth and a four-hour drive from St. Paul, Minn. Socialize with Chapter members, volunteers, local partners (e.g. outdoor businesses and outfitters, agency partners like the Superior National Forest, the Friends of the Boundary Waters, etc.), and local residents interested in the Trail. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks/beverages will be provided. Dinner will be on your own following the social.
  • October 4: Hike on the Kekekabic Trail. A boat shuttle will be used for transport into the BWCAW. Meet at the Kekekabic Trail’s Snowbank Road trailhead at 8:30 a.m. to carpool to the Snowbank Lake boat landing. Allow 25-30 minutes for the drive from Ely to the Snowbank Trailhead. Hike options include:
    • Pickerel Bay to the Kek to BWCAW boundary and back (3.5 miles roundtrip, yellow line on map)
    • Pickerel Bay to the Kek to the first campsite on the Becoosin Loop, a really nice site for lunch (5 miles roundtrip, orange line on map)
    • Pickerel Bay to the Kek and full Becoosin loop to Kek and back (7.1 miles roundtrip, purple line on map).

 

 

 

 

 

(Click to enlarge)

Details for this hike may change depending upon the weather as boating on Snowbank Lake is weather dependent. It could be switched to Wednesday, or the boat option might be precluded by weather. In that case, the group could hike in from the Snowbank Lake Road. Trailhead to the BWCAW boundary and back, a distance of  approximately eight miles.

  • October 5:
    • Group hike to Kawishiwi Falls (easy, 1.5-mile roundtrip). Meet at the trailhead parking area at 9:00 a.m.
    • Group hike part of the future Kek to Ely NCNST flag line (from the Fire Tower clearing downhill to FR 439, approximately 0.6 miles). Drive from the Kawishiwi Falls trailhead to FR 439 parking spot and carpool up to the fire tower site.
    • If time allows, tour Ely to visit local attractions and partner businesses.
    • Leave for Walker by 4:30 p.m. and plan to arrive by 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5 for registration. It is a three-hour drive from Ely without stops and another half hour from the fire tower site.

Lodging and meals are on your own on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Registration is limited to 16 participants. (There is a group size limit of nine in the BWCAW, with one hike leader.) Download the registration form, then email or mail it to Eric Campbell, Kekekabic Trail Chapter President, at kek@northcountrytrail.org by September 26. Send your payment by check, made out to “NCTA-Kek Chapter,” to Eric by mail at 17040 South Shore Lane, Eden Prairie, MN 55346.

We are charging $25 for this unique opportunity and the fee includes the Hikers Social, the boat shuttle, a Kek Chapter t-shirt, and a poster map of the Kekekabic Trail.

Registration Form

Registration for this trip is separate of main Celebration activities taking place October 5-9.

October 5

October 5

Time Event Location
4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Registration Chase on the Lake Lobby
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Volunteer Orientation TBD
October 6

October 6

Time Event Location
6:00 – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast On your own
7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Registration Chase on the Lake Lobby
7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Bagged Lunch Pickup Chase on the Lake
7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Hikes Various
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Leadership Summit Chase on the Lake Ballroom
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Happy Hour Northern Lights Casino
6:15 – 7:15 p.m. Buffet Dinner Northern Lights Casino
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. NPS + NCTA Award Presentations Northern Lights Casino

Hikes

Departure Time Location Mileage Description Map
7:30 a.m. Hubbard CR-4 to Nelson Lake 10 This trail continues past lakes and through a variety of forest types with some moderate changes in elevation. Also offered on October 8 at 8:15 a.m. Map, MN 180-189.5
7:30 a.m. Itasca-Highway 113 Trailhead to Itasca-South Entrance Trailhead 7 Hike seven miles across Itasca State Park near backcountry campsites, through old growth pines, and mixed forests. A highlight are the several pristine lakes the Trail passes by. Map, MN 180-187.5
7:45 a.m. CR-50 to Highway 371 5.2 The NCNST begins in the woods. It meanders across a small beaver run on a puncheon and passes through wetlands. Also offered on October 7 at 7:45 a.m. Map, MN 215.25-220.5
7:45 a.m. Fourth Crossing Forest Road to Highway 84 7.5 The NCNST enters a plantation of tall pine trees, past a large marshy area, into mixed forest, then crossing a two-track forest road. The trail continues to meander through extensive pine plantations of multiple ages. MN 236-243.75
8:00 a.m. CR-12 to Cass CR-50 4.7 The Trail meanders through pine and deciduous forest, along gentle rolling hills. The Trail will leave the forest and descends a bank to reach to Cass CR-50. It will cross the Shingobee River, climbs a hill, then drops through a ditch and up a bank before entering the woods again. Also offered at 12:00 p.m. Map, MN 210.5-215
8:15 a.m. Highway 371 to Second Woodtick 4.3 Forest is mixed hardwood, with noticeable wetlands. The Trail sometimes meanders, crosses a stream on a wooded puncheon directly beneath a classic beaver dam. Enjoy the tranquility from the hilltop as you take in the old growth pine to the east. Also offered on October 7 at 8:15 a.m. Map, MN 220.5-224.75
12:00 p.m. CR-12 to Cass CR-50 4.7 The Trail meanders through pine and deciduous forest, along gentle rolling hills. The Trail will leave the forest and descends a bank to reach to Cass CR-50. It will cross the Shingobee River, climbs a hill, then drops through a ditch and up a bank before entering the woods again. Also offered at 8:00 a.m. MN 210.5-215
12:00 p.m. Fourth Crossing Forest Road to 2107 to CR-125 4 The Trail meanders through extensive pine plantations of multiple ages. The NCNST slowly rises and falls over rolling hills. Map
12:15 p.m. Cass CR-125 to Highway 84 3.5 The Trail enters a stretch of hardwood forest. The NCNST crosses private lands in a young hardwood forest and crosses a farm road connecting large farm fields north and south. Map, MN 240.2-243.75
12:30 p.m. Second Woodtick to Forest Road 3790 3.3 The Trail follows along rolling hills and occasionally runs along the top of a long ridge with views down each side. This area has mature deciduous forests with lots of giant oaks. Most of the Trail is shady or dappled shade. Map, MN 224.75-227.9
12:45 p.m. Highway 34/Shingobee Trailhead to Cass CR-50 trailhead 3 One of the most hilly sections of the NCNST in Chippewa National Forest. Entering Shingobee Recreation Area, the NCNST ascends, then turns south to an open meadow with a memorial to Harry Jennings Crockett. The NCNST crosses Anoway Stream on a bridge, then rises and descends on a ridge overlooking Shingobee River Valley, emerging out of a forest at a large open bank that descends to Cass County 50. MN 212.25-215.25
1:00 p.m. Lake Erin Loop 0.7 This loop starts at a parking lot and goes around the lake. The Trail sometimes meanders, crosses a stream on a wooded puncheon directly beneath a classic beaver dam. Map, MN 220.5
October 7

October 7

Time Event Location
6:00 – 7:00 a.m. Breakfast On your own
7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Registration Chase on the Lake Lobby
7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Bagged Lunch Pickup Chase on the Lake
7:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Hikes Various
12:00 – 5:00 p.m. Workshops Chase on the Lake Ballrooms
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Happy Hour Northern Lights Casino
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Founders Circle Reception, invitation only
6:15 – 7:15 p.m. Buffet Dinner Northern Lights Casino
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker Annie Humphrey Northern Lights Casino

Hikes

Departure Time Location Mileage Description Map
7:30 a.m. Steamboat Forest Road to Waboose Trailhead 5.4 This trail will continue over typical Itasca Moraine topography: gentle up and down and up again. Enjoy west-facing vistas, especially in the fall. You will ascend to the top of Thorpe Tower Hill, where you can notice the concrete corner foundation of an old fire tower. The NCNST enters and passes through old-growth of Norway and white pine, as well as entering young aspen. Map, MN 194-199.5
7:45 a.m. Steamboat Pass to CR-91 4.25 Gently rolling hills, many ponds, with some excellent vistas. You will pass through young birch, Norway pine, and aspen. Map, MN 194-199.5
7:45 a.m. CR-50 to Highway 371 5.2 The NCNST begins in the woods. It meanders across a small beaver run on a puncheon and passes through wetlands. Also offered on October 6 at 7:45 a.m. Map, MN 215.25-220.5
8:00 a.m. Paul Bunyan State Trail (not NCNST) Paved, multi-use trail. It is 115 miles long, connecting the cities of Bemidji and Baxter. Map
8:00 a.m. Shingobee Recreation Area Loops (not NCNST) 6 Nestled along the rolling hills of Shingobee River Valley, the area offers six miles of trails for hiking, hunting, bird watching, camping, and cross-country skiing in the heart of Minnesota’s northern forest. Map
8:15 a.m. Highway 371 to Second Woodtick 4.3 Forest is mixed hardwood, with noticeable wetlands. The Trail sometimes meanders, crosses a stream on a wooded puncheon directly beneath a classic beaver dam. Enjoy the tranquility from the hilltop as you take in the old growth pine to the east. Map, MN 220.5-224.75
8:30 a.m. Chase on the Lake to the Heartland Trail to the West (not NCNST) 2 Enjoy the scenes of Walker as you head west on the Heartland Trail. This hike will be a there-and-back, as Chase on the Lake will be the starting and end point for the hike. Map

Workshops

Time Workshop Location Description
12:00 – 12:50 p.m. Mapping Resources Chase on the Lake Parlor 1 Take a look at NCTA’s existing and upcoming map and navigational resources. Hear from staff members that develop and update the NCTA data and maps. Topics will include the intended uses and best practices of the NCTA’s maps. There will also be an overview of the mapping situation across the length of the NCNST, discussing the NCTA’s mapping relationship with partner organizations and land managers. Bring your questions!
12:00 – 12:50 p.m. NCNST Historic Bridge Rehabilitation Chase on the Lake Parlor 2 The NCTA Chief Baw Beese Chapter volunteers are working to repair a degraded bridge on the NCNST, which also happens to be a 150-year-old historic railroad bridge! Come to hear about repairing and rehabilitating a historic structure on the Trail in a way that meets safety needs, and maintains its historic character and integrity. (Brought to you by Steph Liguori with the National Park Service.)
12:00 – 12:50 p.m. Leopold Table Bench Workshop Chase on the Lake Parlor 3 Learn how to build a Leopold table bench with Bruce Johnson.
1:00 – 1:50 p.m. Hike Planning Seminar Chase on the Lake Parlor 1 How can NCTA Chapters and Affiliates best help NCNST hikers enjoy their Trail section by providing the most useful trail information? Examples and best practices will be covered, but volunteers are also encouraged to share ideas, and trail users to share their needs.
1:00 – 1:50 p.m. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Chase on the Lake Parlor 2 A reminiscence in photos and story by Lou Ann Johnson, one of the 1978 thru-hike of the NCNST, sponsored by the International Backpackers Association.
1:00 – 1:50 p.m. Trail Protection Roundtable Chase on the Lake Parlor 3 Meet, discuss, and learn from one another about the challenges of and strategies for successfully completing and protecting the North Country National Scenic Trail. Moderated by Paul Gagnon, NCTA Director of Trail Protection.
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Leave No Trace Hike If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace, now is your chance! Join Felicia and Tom, and enjoy an afternoon hike to explore the area and dive a little deeper into Leave No Trace techniques that will help all of us enjoy the out of doors responsibly.
2:00 – 2:50 p.m. Hike Leader Communications Chase on the Lake Parlor 1 This session is for volunteers who currently lead hikes or are interested in leading hikes on the NCNST. NCTA staff will share tools and best practices for group management; promoting the Trail, membership, and volunteerism; safety discussions and how to manage risk; remaining welcoming and inclusive; and more! This is a highly interactive workshop, so come ready to share your stories and practice new skills.
2:00 – 2:50 p.m. Route Planning Methods Chase on the Lake Parlor 2 Brought to you by Luke Jordan with the National Park Service.
3:00 – 3:50 p.m. National Park Service Roundtable Chase on the Lake Parlor 1
October 8

October 8

Time Event Location
6:00 – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast On your own
7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Registration Chase on the Lake Lobby
7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Bagged Lunch Pickup Chase on the Lake
7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Hikes Various
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Happy Hour Northern Lights Casino
6:15 – 7:15 pm. Buffet Dinner Northern Lights Casino
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker Emily Ford Northern Lights Casino

Hikes + Activities

Departure Time Hike/Activity Mileage Description
7:30 a.m. Day Trip to Grand Rapids Varied Tour the Forest History Center, hike new NCNST by Tioga Pit to learn more about iron mining history in the area, then hike the Prairie River Trail from the sports complex to CR-61.
7:30 a.m. Next Generation Coalition Meet n’ Greet Varied Members of the NCTA Next Generation Coalition (NGC) join the NCTA Arrowhead Chapter on a day trip to the Grand Rapids area to visit a few places close to or on the NCNST, including a section the NGC helped build at their in-person summit in May. This is your chance to tag along for a short meet-and-greet with our next generation of trail stewards!
8:00 a.m. Day Trip to Itasca State Park Varied Spend a day at Itasca State Park. Established in 1891, this is Minnesota’s first state park. Stand among the majestic north woods pines, cross the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, and learn from one of the park’s naturalists. Options are a two-mile hike amidst the pines and along Lake Itasca, or climbing the fire tower for a view of the forest canopy and many lakes in the area.
8:00 a.m. Waboose Lake Open House The Waboose Lake Loop Trail follows the NCNST along the north end of the lake, then continues as a separate spur for four miles around the crystal clear water of Waboose Lake. It passes through mature, mixed pine/deciduous forest, lowland areas, and old-growth stands and mixed young stands. The trail climbs and descends several steep slopes with great views of the lake in many places. Watch for bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and many other birds, as well as beaver activity. The campsite on the northeast corner of the lake has three good tenting spots, fire ring, and open-air outhouse, and is available on first-come basis. During the day, NCNST hosts will be at the campsite. Buses will be offering two drop-offs at Waboose Lake at 8:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. with options to come back to the hotel at 1:30 p.m. or 4:00 p.m.
8:15 a.m. Hike: Hubbard CR-4 to Nelson Lake 10 This trail continues past lakes and through a variety of forest types with some moderate changes in elevation. Map, MN 180-190
8:15 a.m. Hike: Spider Lake Road to CR-4 7 The NCNST crosses open fields with good views and majestic pine stands. It traverses the valley of the historical Schoolcraft River, crosses its flood plain, then the river, and back up again. Excellent vistas.
8:30 a.m. Hike: Forest Road 2321 Parking Area to Highway 6 Parking Area 4.5 This hike can be challenging due to some ups, downs and elevations which at times can be steep. Crosses over a flowage before re-entering the forest. The Trail passes a cedar grove, white, red pine. You will experience mild elevation changes. The NCNST curves around the north side of a wetland, crosses a small puncheon heading northeast, then curves back to southeast. The NCNST crosses Forest Road heading south still within the large Norway pine plantation. The NCNST turns heading east and climbs a ride before descending, entering a young aspens stand. Map
8:30 a.m. Hike for Trail Maintainers This session is for volunteers to help them further develop their “trail eyes” when it comes to trail maintenance. NCTA staff and experienced volunteers will share tips on performing common maintenance tasks, identifying issues to tackle before they become bigger problems, and more.
8:45 a.m. Hike: Highway 84 to Highway 200 6.5 Generally flat with short climbs, mostly old road feel that is slowly growing in. Trails can be wet in spots. Norway pine plantation planted in 1960s and the rest is mixed hardwood forest. Map, MN 243.5-250.2
8:45 a.m. Hike: Forest Road 2117 to Cass CR-4 5.5 The NCNST crosses through a low area with extensive wetlands before crossing a higher area with rolling low hills and crossing numerous forest roads and trails. Map, MN 172.4-180
9:00 a.m. Hike: Forest Road 3790 (30th Ave.) to Third Crossing of Forest Road 2107 (Woodtick Trail) 4.15 The Trail passes by five named lakes, as well as several unnamed ponds and wetlands. The Trail is quite level with some gradual ups and downs. Vegetation is a mosaic of mixed pines and deciduous forests with some pine plantations, wildflowers. Map, MN 227.9-233.75
9:00 a.m. Hike: Fourth Crossing Forest Road 2107 to Highway 84 (Woodtick Trail) 7.5 The NCNST enters a plantation of tall pine trees, past a large marshy area, into mixed forest, crossing a two-track forest road. The Trail continues to meander through extensive pine plantations of multiple ages. MN 236-243.75
9:30 a.m. Hike: Highway 64 to Cass CR-12 6.3 The topography becomes hilly and the trail crosses re-growth areas. A sign marks where the NCNST leaves the Paul Bunyan State Forest and enters the Chippewa National Forest. Watch for old-growth red and white pine in the predominantly mixed deciduous forest. Map, MN 204.5-210.5
9:45 a.m. Hike: Highway 200 to CR-53/Forest Road 2104 3.5 The Trail crosses the Boy River and the Swift River and undulates gently through mixes forest. Map, MN 250.2-254.5
1:00 p.m. Waboose Lake Open House The Waboose Lake Loop Trail follows the NCNST along the north end of the lake, then continues as a separate spur for four miles around the crystal clear water of Waboose Lake. It passes through mature, mixed pine/deciduous forest, lowland areas, and old-growth stands and mixed young stands. The trail climbs and descends several steep slopes with great views of the lake in many places. Watch for bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and many other birds, as well as beaver activity. The campsite on the northeast corner of the lake has three good tenting spots, fire ring, and open-air outhouse, and is available on first-come basis. During the day, NCNST hosts will be at the campsite. Buses will be offering two drop-offs at Waboose Lake at 8:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. with options to come back to the hotel at 1:30 p.m. or 4:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. Hike: Shingobee Connection Trail to Leech Lake Head east on the Shingobee Connection Trail from Chase on the Lake to the Walker City Park’s lighthouse, on the shore of Leech Lake. Map
October 9

October 9

Time Event Location
All Day Hikes and Local Activities Various; see Local Attractions, Walker Area on the main Celebration web page for recommendations
Back to Main Celebration Page