Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

NCTA’s Mapping Resources – Summer 2017 Update

Posted by

by Matt Rowbotham, NCTA’s GIS Coordinator

The NCTA is moving forward in a number of exciting mapping areas. The impetus behind our current efforts is the opportunity to deliver trail users a unified mapping system. Going beyond paper maps, our current system facilitates direct access to the trail data used to create the official North Country Trail maps.

Although traditional paper maps are still the most reliable and fundamental tool for backcountry navigation, the NCTA’s goal is to make our map content available in as many of today’s most popular platforms as is possible. Including desktop/laptop computers, tablets, smartphone, GPS receivers and of course traditional paper maps.

Core Datasets

The NCTA maps are built around three core sets of data.
These are the:

  • NCT centerline
  • NCT point data
  • New mileage index

The first step with this system was getting the NCTA’s data out from behind the organization’s internal network. This came about through our hugely popular ArcGIS Online (AGOL) mapping system. Available at home, on the road or in the field. The AGOL platform allows us to deliver our core data sets to the public with rapid updates.

As we’ve continued to improve this system, there are a number of new features we’ve recently rolled out.

New features in the NCT point data layer

Google Driving Directions

A significant new feature we’ve built into the NCT point data layer is a direct link that will launch Google Maps driving directions directly from any of the points (Parking, Camping, etc) in our system.

Users are now able to click on any point feature along the trail and by clicking the “Google Maps Directions” link Google Maps will launch on your device with point you’ve selected automatically set as the destination.

This is especially useful on mobile devices, simply enter your starting location select your route jump in your car and let your mobile device guide your way. As a somewhat new resident of northern Michigan, this has become my go-to strategy for exploring new parts of the NCT. I personally use it weekly!

We’re now adding photos to many of these point features. Over the coming years we anticipate having a nearly complete photo inventory of the facilities along the trail. Beyond just being interesting to look at, having a photo of things like parking area will be really informative with things like how many cars can fit, remoteness, etc.

Mileage Index

The most consistent complaint we’ve heard about our online mapping system has been how difficult measuring distances along the trail can be.

The “half-mile” waypoints we’ve been adding to our new hiking map series are serving as a great work-around, creating a mileage index we can load on the online map.

This can be used to easily estimate distances along the route of the trail. Currently, we have a mileage index available and online for North Dakota and Michigan…with the rest of the trail in the works.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when using these points:

  1. The points don’t appear on the online map until you zoom into a detailed scale.
  2. The mileage labels currently don’t work on the Explorer for ArcGIS app many of you may be using on your tablets or mobile devices, although the labels work fine on the web version. When using the app, you’ll need to click on the point to see the mileage.
  3. Lastly, and most importantly these mileage markers are not set in stone and they will change regularly and in some cases significantly. It’s important to always check the online map for the latest updates. Stay tuned it’s going to continue to get better from here.

Want to learn more?

Please join us this Wednesday, June 28th at 7:30PM EDT on our Facebook Page for a live question and answer session focused on the NCTA’s mapping resources and how you can best use them:

We are currently running the NCT2GO Digital Map Campaign to fund these great advances we are making to our map program.

Your gift will really make a difference –

2017 Allegheny 100-Mile Hiking Challenge Great Success!

Posted by

Record Numbers for Allegheny 100 mile hiking challenge


The Allegheny National Forest (ANF) Chapter of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) held its eighth annual Allegheny 100 (A100) Mile Hiking Challenge June 9th-11th. The A-100 is an unsupported endurance hiking challenge with no timekeepers, no aid stations, and no finish line other than the one hikers set for themselves.

The event challenges hikers to traverse 25, 50, 75, or 100 miles along the North Country Trail (NCT) through the ANF in 50 hours, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 8 p.m. on Sunday. This year the event started in the north at the Willow Bay trailhead and ended at Route 66 in Vowinckel, PA. The direction changes from year to year to give hikers a chance to see the whole trail.

A record number of 152 hikers signed up to hike the various distances, with 77 signed up to attempt the 100-mile trek. Most hikers are from the local area, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, but some came from as far away as Florida, Colorado, and Texas.

Hikers start Allegheny 100 mile Hiking Challenge

Andrea Ketchmark, Director of Trail Development for the NCTA, addresses hikers at the start of the Challenge.

Seventeen people completed the 100 miles, including two people who originally signed up to only hike 75 miles! Three people finished 75 miles, 67 people completed the 50 miles, and 58 people completed at least 25 miles. All participants should be proud of themselves no matter what distance they covered.

Allegheny Hiking Challenge Finishers

Nikki Van Frank, Perry Muir, Dan Mock, Thomas Brody, John Mock

One-hundred mile completers this year were: Daren Allen, Mark Dingman, Lori Bean, Alisha Glasgow, Mark Meengs, Steve Bogart, Robert Gregg, Matthew Roane, Ryan Bollas, Russell Horne, Brian Smith, Nathan Boyle, Benjamin Hrycik, Nathan Tobik, Peter Burke, Christopher Janovich, and Lisa Wandel. Honorable mention goes to George Martynick for finishing the 100 miles around midnight Sunday.

Allegheny 100 Mile hiking Challenge finishers

Happy 100 mile finishers! — Daren Allen and Alisha Glasgow.

The Allegheny 100 Mile Hiking Challenge will return in 2018 the second weekend in June to give hikers another chance to conquer their chosen distance.

Participant Amy Weller shared this fun video about her experience with the A-100.


The A-100 would not be possible without the help of the National Forest Service, the NCTA, the many volunteers who put in countless hours throughout the year, and support from our sponsors and ongoing supporters including United Refining Company/Kwik Fill, Northwest Savings Bank, Crescent Beer, Betts Industries, D&R Transportation, Bluegill Graphix, the Warren YMCA, Shell Appalachia, Ace Hardware in Warren, and the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry.

Interested in joining the Allegheny 100 Mile Hiking Challenge in 2018 or seeing more photos from 2017? Follow the Allegheny National Forest Chapter on Facebook here:

Also keep an eye on our website. Registration will launch early spring of 2018, and this year the event sold out in 10 hours!

Join us for National Trails Day!

Posted by

It’s the nation’s largest celebration of trails!

Join us June 3, 2017 as we celebrate National Trails Day with the American Hiking Society. We’ll have events across our 7 states. Join up with a local chapter, affiliate, or partner for a hike, trail town celebration, or work day. Check back often as we’ll be adding events. You can find all events near you by searching the American Hiking Society event page here.

Events along the North Country Trail

(all events are Saturday, June 3, unless noted otherwise)

New York:

Wildflowers along the NCT, photo by NCTA Staff

Event: Wildflower Hike (easy)

Host: Central New York Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Parking lot at south end of Cazenovia Lake on Rte. 20 just east of NY 92. We will carpool to nearby Nelson Swamp Unique Area, since parking there is limited.

RSVP: Mary Dineen, 315-424-1284

Start: 1:15 pm

Distance: 2 miles

Description: Join us for a Wildflower Hike. Will the trout lilies, spring beauties, and trillium still be out? On a previous Wildflower Hike, we identified 57 flowers and other plants! (Short hike, probably a couple of miles; NSU Area does qualify for the Hike 100 Miles on the North Country Trail Challenge)



Event: Darlington Days National Trails Day Hike on the North Country Trail

Host: Wampum Chapter North Country Trail Association

Location: Kathy’s Country Kitchen Restaurant, 3403 Old Darlington Rd.
Darlington, PA 16115


Start: 12:00 pm

Distance: 3 miles

Description: Hike the North Country National Scenic Trail with the Wampum Chapter of the NCTA on Saturday, June 3rd as part of our participation in the Darlington Days celebration. We’re meeting at the south end of the Trail Town of Darlington, near the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek at Kathy’s Country Kitchen, and at 7:00 AM we’ll shuttle hikers out to the Louthan Rd. trail head for a three mile hike back into town. Upon arrival those who’d like to can jump into the Darlington Days annual parade and march with the chapter.

This hike is rated easy in difficulty with a few climbs and descents along the way and a relatively even footpath. Hikers should dress for the weather, wear appropriate footwear, bring drinking water, and also a snack if desired for along the way.

NCTA volunteers will be spending all day Saturday and Sunday at Darlington Days manning the information table to talk to attendees about the North Country Trail and carving hiking sticks with the kids. All are welcome to drop by and visit, or to stay and help us spread the word about this 4,600 mile national scenic hiking trail that travels through Beaver and Lawrence counties of Pennsylvania.

Maps of the hike can be found here on the Wampum Chapter website


Date: June 3-4, 2017

Event: Shawnee Section – the Buckeye Trail Association Ballinger Property

Host: Buckeye Trail Association

DescriptionWe will be mowing and pruning at the Ballinger property (trail maintenance too). We will leave for work at 8:00am and quit at 3:00pm. Learn more here.

CampingAt the Ballinger property. Tent camping only. Camping GPS coordinates 38.81119, -83.26958

MealsBring your own food and water.

Mapping: See the location for this event in Google Maps

Date: June 2-4, 2017

Event: National Trails Day Weekend Encampment

Host: Buckeye Trail Association

Location: BTA Barn 83949 Beall Road, Deersville, OH

Description: Join fellow Buckeye Trail hikers for the Second Annual National Trails Day Weekend Encampment at the BTA Barn near Deersville, Ohio. At our past encampments, we’ve had hikes, geocaching, games for kids and great food. It also looks like we might have kayaks available courtesy of the MWCD. George Markusic is coming and he has a great geocache program that should be on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 or 2:00 P.M. We’re planning a potluck dinner on Saturday evening but otherwise plan on bringing your own food. Learn more here.




Grand Traverse Hiking Club, NTD Celebration 2016, photo by Sara Cockrell

Event: National Trails Day Celebration Hike

Host: Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground, No 29 1/2 Rd, Manton, MI


Start: 9:00 AM

Distance: 2.5 miles

Description: The Grand Traverse Hiking Club will be celebrating National Trails Day on Saturday, June 3 from 9AM-1:30PM at Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground on the Manistee River.There will be 2 hikes at 9AM on the North Country Trail. A 5 mile hike from the Campground to the 29 1/2 Rd (Baxter Bridge) trailhead, then up to High Banks Rollway & back, or take a shuttle to High Banks Rollway, and hike 2.5 miles back to Baxter Bridge. From noon until 1:30PM, we will enjoy a Potluck Picnic at Baxter Bridge SF Campground. You will need to bring your dish to share, table service, beverage & a camp chair. GTHC will provide grilled hot dogs & condiments

Event: Hike from Rumely Road to Laughing Whitefish Falls

Host: North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA

Location: 1830 Altamont, Marquette, MI


Start: 12:00 PM

Distance: 5.0 miles

Description: We will carpool from Marquette to Rumely Rd where we will hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail past Pipe Falls and another unnamed falls on our way through the woods to the Laughing Whitefish River. There are many steps leading down to the river from high above where we will have hiked in. We will then cross the Laughing Whitefish River bridge and ascend up numerous steps where we will then turn off the North Country Trail and take the spur trail to the Laughing Whitefish Falls, passing by two additional unnamed waterfalls. We will view the Laughing Whitefish Falls, with some taking the steps to the bottom, before we head back to the parking lot to drive back to Marquette. Note there are many steps and a couple of steep grades in this hike so come prepared with walking sticks. Cameras, water, bug dope, etc. are highly recommended. You will be logging about 2.2 miles towards your NCTA 2017 Hike 100 Challenge.

Duane Lawton at the Trail Town Celebration, photo by Dove Day

Event: Petoskey Trail Town Celebration

Host: Jordan Valley 45 Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Pennsylvania Park, Petoskey, MI 49770


Start: 9:00 am

Distance: 2 and 4 mile hikes, entertainment, lunch and more!

Description: Join us in celebrating National Trails Day and attend the 5th Annual Petoskey Trail Town Celebration!
There will be morning NCT hikes, music, lunch, presentations, kids activities, prizes, and a raffle! We hope to see you there!
9:00 First Hike shuttle leaves for McDougal/Greenwood (4 mile hike)
10:15 Second Hike shuttle leaves for Riverbend Park (2 mile hike)
11:45 Entertainment starts “Folk stomp sounds of Lee Dyer”
12:00 Lunch/Entertainment
12:30 Presentations, prize and raffle drawings
1:30 Activities/Entertainment

Date: June 3-4

Event: National Trails Day Celebration and Work Day 

Host: Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Bark Dock Day Use Parking, Curley Lewis Highway, Whitefish Bay

RSVP: or 989-350-2826 by 9:00 AM Wednesday, May 31st to obtain a complimentary camping site for those working the volunteer work session. Two or three nights will be available.

Start: June 3, 10:00 am Hike the Whitefish Bay National Scenic Byway. June 3 after lunch work session, and June 4 work session continues 10 am – 5 pm. Come anytime.

Distance: June 3, 2-6 miles.

Description: Saturday–June 3rd–Hike the Whitefish Bay National Scenic Byway–10:00 AM, Bring Water and Insect Repellent. Pack your camera and grab a friend or two for a stroll along the Lake Superior Shoreline!  Hike lengths from 2 to 6 miles. Hiking will occur on Section K of our trail map #2:

Lunch after the hike–at Silver Creek Pub, with optional volunteer work session to follow in the afternoon and continuing on Sunday. View the event on Facebook here for complete details or contact Kay using the RSVP information above.

Date: SUNDAY June 4

Event: Chief Noonday Chapter National Trails Day Hike: Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, Augusta to Battle Creek

Host: Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA


Distance: 6 or 12 miles

Description: A “2-in -1” hike. Long and Short hike start at the same time and same place. Long hike about 12 miles and short hike about 6 miles. Surface: natural.

12:45 p.m. a shuttle will pick up hikers for the long and short hike and transport them to the hike start location.

• 11:00 AM Optional lunch at 2 locations: Dig In Café, 111 W Michigan Ave or Players Bar & Grill, 506 E Michigan Ave, Augusta MI

• 12:45 PM Long hike parking: Dickman Rd/M-96 at Brady Rd, Battle Creek, MI
• 12:45 PM Short hike parking: Augusta Dr Trailhead, 704 E Augusta Dr, Augusta MI

Event: Construction of Approach to Bigelow Creek Bridge

Host: Western Michigan Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Newaygo County, southeast of Grant, MI near 120th Ave and Pear Ave. Contact Larry below for details

RSVP: Larry Meyer at

Time: 9 am – 4 pm

Description: The Western Michigan Chapter is hosting a trail workday in Newaygo County just southeast of Grant, MI near 120th Ave and Pear Ave. We will be rerouting a section of trail through a piece of beautiful private property. Trail work involving the use of hand tools. Workday is 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Contact Larry Meyer at for meet up information.

Event: National Trails Day History Hike on the NCT

Host: Old Victoria Restoration

Location: 25401 Victoria Dam Rd, Rockland, MI


Start: 1:00 pm

Distance: 2.6 miles

Description: Hike the North Country National Scenic Trail into copper mining history with guides from Old Victoria! This 2.6 mile hike will take place over rough, uneven terrain; closed-toed, appropriate shoes are recommended. Bring water and a snack to enjoy atop Lookout Mountain with a view to match its name. Learn more or RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Event: Trails Day Event to Combat Invasive Species

Time: 10 am

Host: Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA with North Country CISMA (part of the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition)

Location: Manistee National Forest Sulak Campground West of Baldwin, MI. South of M-10 near Branch, MI map here.


Description: We will be joining with the North Country CISMA (a part of the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition) to host a learning/working day to learn to identify and find several types of invasive species in the Manistee National Forest and on the North Country Trail.Our meeting point will be at Sulak Campground West of Baldwin MI. This is south of M 10 near Branch, MI. More info and a map can be found on our website



Event: Explore the North Country Trail in Northwest Wisconsin

Host: Brule-St. Croix Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Palmer’s Landing trailhead, 10613 South County Road A, Solon Springs, Wisconsin 54873


Start: 9:00 am

Distance: 4 miles

Description: 9 AM – meet at Palmer’s Landing trailhead to hike the Brule-St. Croix Portage segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (2 miles). This segment is the oldest trail in the upper Midwest. 10:30 AM – dedication of a new boardwalk at the north end of the Portage Trail, on the Bois Brule River. The boardwalk is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Zosel, longtime superintendent of the Brule River State Forest and volunteer with the North Country Trail Association. Chuck worked for many years to restore the Portage Trail and incorporate it in the North Country National Scenic Trail. After the dedication, hike back (2 miles) to the trailhead for a potluck picnic at noon. 1:00 PM – hike the Brule Bog Boardwalk segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (5 miles, out-and-back). See spring bog flora in the Brule Glacial Spillway State Natural Area.

Event: Heritage Chapter National Trails Day Hike – Gold Mine to Wren Falls: Iron WI

Host: Heritage Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Casey Sag Road Trailhead, From Hurley WI: Take HWY 77 west beyond Upson 3 miles to Casey Sag Road, turn right (North) go 2.75 Miles to trailhead.


Start: 9:00 am

Distance: 3.5 miles

Description: The trail travels through mature woods with many highlights including an old Gold Mine. The mine, known as the Maxim Mine, was operated in the early 1900s by Civil War Veteran Zenas Maxim and his son Captain Frank Maxim. Hikers will also visit the new Gold Mine West Campsite, a backpacking campsite created by the Heritage Chapter in 2015. Continuing west from the campsite, the trail passes a scenic overlook and a large beaver dam before reaching the beautiful Wren Falls on the Tyler Forks River.

Directions: From Hurley WI: Take HWY 77 west beyond Upson 3 miles to Casey Sag Road, turn right (North) go 2.75 Miles to trailhead. Hike will be 3.5 miles. Shuttle at Wren Falls. See Gold Mine, overlook of Penokees and Wren Falls. RSVP: to plan shuttle.

Event: National Trails Day – Trail Building

Host: Chequamegon Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Rainbow Lake Wilderness, meet at Reynard Lake Rd where the NCT Crosses. See map here.


Start: 8:30 am

Distance: Trail Building Project

Description: Join us as we complete the Rainbow Lake Wilderness Re-route! Chapter Volunteers have finished all of the tasks necessary for completing the re-route (4 days of trail building already!). All we have left to complete is some tread building on the longer re-route. When we finish on June 3rd, we will have a celebration at a local watering hole! The re-route is most likely the most ambitious project for the Chapter this year and I will be doing a “Rainbow Lake Wilderness Re-route All Stars” in the next newsletter (like I did for the Mellen Boardwalk building last year). It’s not to late to be a part of this major Chapter accomplishment! I can’t think of a more significant way of celebrating National Trails Day then by completing the Rainbow Lake Wilderness Re-routes. We will meet at 8:30 a.m. at Reynard Lake Road where the NCT crosses. See PDF map here.



Event: National Trails Day “Itasca to Hubbel Pond Series” Hike #5

Host: Laurentian Lakes Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Elbow Lake Rd. Trailhead, Ponsford, MN 56575

RSVP: llc@northcountrytrail.org

Start: 9:00 am

Distance: 4.8 miles

Description: Join the Laurentian Lakes Chapter of the North Country Trail Association as they hike 4.8 miles from the MN Hwy 113 Trailhead to the Elbow Lake Rd. trailhead along the Laurentian Divide. Map of this section: Meet at Elbow Lake Rd. Trailhead at 9:00 am. Map: Shuttles will be provided to the hike starting point. Chapter meeting to follow at Ice Cracking Lodge (


Event: North Country Trail Grand Opening Celebration

Host: Minnesota Waters & Prairie Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, 602 Minnesota 210, Fergus Falls, MN 56537


Start: 1:00 pm

Distance: 2 miles

Description: Join the Minnesota Waters & Prairie Chapter as they gather to officially open the 9.8-mile NCT loop within the City of Fergus Falls. This event will feature a formal grand opening program (e.g. remarks by local trail partners, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and ceremonial Trail Town sign installation) followed by a variety of guided hikes on the NCT. This will include shorter, family-friendly hikes and longer challenging hikes. There will also be refreshments and information on local hiking and volunteer opportunities inside the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.

National Trails Day hike with the Superior Hiking Trail Association, photos by Kim Fishburn

Event: Superior Hiking Trail Association Hikes

Host: Superior Hiking Trail Association

Location: Castle Danger Trailhead Parking Lot, Castle Danger MN


Start: 10:00 am

Distance: 9.1 miles or 2.4 miles

Description: Enjoy treats before we start hiking to celebrate the day! Both hikes meet at Castle Danger Trailhead Parking Lot. At Hwy 61 mile 36.6, turn left on Lake Co Rd 106/Silver Creek Township Rd 617 and go 2.4 mi. to trailhead parking lot on right.

Long Hike: Gooseberry Falls State Park to Castle Danger, 9.1 miles – Hike along the scenic Gooseberry River for four mi., then enjoy views from Mike’s Rock and Wolf Rock.

Short Hike: Castle Danger Trailhead to Crow Creek Valley Campsite and Back, 2.4 miles total – Take in sweeping lake views from Wolf Rock, continue through pine woods to inland view at optional Crow Valley Overlook Spur Trail. Return via same route.

North Dakota

Event: National Trails Day at Fort Ransom State Park

Host: Sheyenne River Valley Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Fort Ransom State Park, 5981 Walt Hjelle Pkwy, Fort Ransom, ND 58033


Start: 9:00 am

Description: National Trails Day! Meet at the Rosebud Visitor Center at 9am to carpool to Fort Ransom State Park. A Ranger-led hike will begin at 10am. Pack a lunch for noon meal. At 1:30pm we will canoe the Sheyenne River. There will be park entrance and canoe rental fees. Dinner to be provided by the chapter at 5pm followed by an evening campfire.

Event: National Trails Day Hike in Sheyenne National Grassland

Host: Dakota Prairie Chapter of the NCTA

Location: Sheyenne National Grassland


Distance: 8.6 miles

Start: Jorgan’s Hollow Campground 10 am. (see directions below)

Description:  We will meet at Jorgan’s Hollow Campground at 10:00 A.M., and hike west to FR 1212. This is a point to point hike, consequently we’ll be shuttling hikers back to your vehicles. The trail meanders around stands of bur oaks and rolling hills of tall grass prairie. This is a very beautiful section of the grasslands.

Consider joining us on the 3 hour hike in ushering in summer.  Bring lunch along as we will be stopping about halfway to relax and eat. Please respond that you will be joining us, on this message, on facebook, or on meet up.
Directions: From Fargo, drive south on I-29 to the Kindred exit.  Turn west and travel 17 miles on SR. 46.  Turn south on SR 18 and travel about 3 miles turning west on CR 2.  This will turn to gravel.  Watch for the sign that indicates CR 23.  Turn south on CR 23 and travel about 5 miles to Jorgans Hollow which will be on your left.  This is a 45 minute drive.

NCNST Route Adjustment Act Advocacy Update {and request}

Posted by

The NCTA is starting over in this 115th Congress in our efforts to obtain passage of our Route Adjustment legislation that we came close to seeing pass during the last few weeks of the 114th Congress in December, and we need your help!

Word from Bruce Matthews is that Rep. Richard Nolan introduced the House version of the “North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment” bill (H.R. 1026) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. John Hoeven co-introduced the Senate version (S. 363) yesterday (2/13).  This introduction was timed with the ongoing Hike the Hill advocacy event.  Click on the graphic below to read the simple legislation and to learn more about what it does (note: both the House and Senate versions have identical language).

What you can do:

We really need constituents of these Representatives who supported the legislation in the last Congress to contact their offices to ask them to once again co-sponsor Rep. Nolan’s bill:

Here are some additional Representatives who host the Trail, who really ought to be co-sponsors:

Act now! Let’s turn the map green!

Below is a map detailing our current sponsors for this bill. Districts marked green represent those who’ve signed onto the bill. (Click the map to view full size)

Here is how you can best accomplish this:

  1. Call their DC office
  2. Provide them with your name & zip code
  3. State that you “Don’t need a response”
  4. Tell them that you would like to see the Representative co-sponsor H.R. 1026

It might look something like this…

“Hi, my name is Mark, I’m a constituent from ___, zip code *****. I don’t need a response. I am in favor of the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act (H.R. 1026) and I encourage the Representative to please co-sponsor this legislation. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!”

Afterward, tell your friends / family that live in your same District to do the same thing and tell them how easy it was.  The DC staff probably only need to hear from a dozen constituents before moving on the legislation.


If your Representative is already a co-sponsor please call and thank them for their support!  The list of current co-sponsors includes:

We also would like to publicly thank Reps. Beyer, VA-8; Connolly, VA-11; Blumenauer, OR-3; Fortenberry, NE-1; and Clark, MA-5 for their support!

If your Representative isn’t listed anywhere above, please contact them and ask that they co-sponsor this H.R. 1026.

Header photo credit: Craig Toocheck,

North Country Trail in Fort Custer National Cemetery

Posted by

by Kenny Wawsczyk, Michigan Regional Trail Coordinator, photos courtesy of Chief Noonday Chapter.

Across seven states the North Country Trail has the privilege to traverse through  a wide variety of properties, from large Forest Service land to small parcels in urban areas.

In Kalamazoo County there’s a unique property that the NCT is allowed to go through, the Fort Custer National Cemetery. During WW II Fort Custer served as a training ground for soldiers. Today, as you stand in what is now wetland, you can still see this history through the man made shapes of the land.

View Map Full Screen

Over two miles of Trail are found within the 770 acre parcel and the Chief Noonday Chapter has been working for the past few years to improve and replace the existing structures. So far the chapter has completed a total of 260 feet of puncheon, (not contiguous) as well as a 30 foot bridge that was built in 2015. 

With the bridge being built last year the chapter was able to focus on the puncheon this year. And with only approximately 40 feet left to go as well as a few touch-ups here and there it was definitely a successful year.

Ron and Jeff

Volunteers Ron and Jeff on the puncheon.

Volunteers from the chapter were happy to receive help from the Battle Creek Academy as well as the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy. These kids did a lot of hauling of gravel and lumber back into the sites as access to the area is limited. They also did more than just carry material as they got some experience building the structures too.

Michigan Youth Challenge Academy work on the Trail

Michigan Youth Challenge Academy Students work on the Trail


Battle Creek Academy Students work on the Trail

Battle Creek Academy Students work on the Trail

In October I too finally got the opportunity to help out. It never fails to amaze me how much time and effort our volunteers put into each and every project they are a part of.

So if you’re looking to hike a unique area I highly suggest heading to Augusta in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. There’s road side parking off Fort Custer Dr just north of M-96. (Find this on retail map MI-02.)

Then hike less than a half mile into the Fort Custer Recreation Area and just east of the newly built bridge you’ll enter an area that holds a lot of history and your feet will be dry thanks to the volunteers of the Chief Noonday Chapter.

And if you’re in the area, be sure to check out the special services that happen each Memorial Day Weekend in the Fort Custer National Cemetery.

Jeff and Mick Hawkins, volunteers with the Chief Noonday Chapter.

Jeff and Mick Hawkins, volunteers with the Chief Noonday Chapter.

NCTA’s trail management staff attend the National Scenic Trails Workshop

Posted by

Fun in the sun: The National Scenic Trails Workshop and NCT Trail Management Staff Meeting in Pensacola, Florida November 13-18

by Andrea Ketchmark

National Scenic Trails Workshop

Staff from the National Scenic Trails from across the U.S . attend the NST Workshop in Florida, November 2016.

In the last 49 years since the 1968 passage of the National Trails System Act, only 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails have been designated by Congress. The purpose of these trails are to showcase the wild scenic beauty of our country along with the important historic and cultural events that took place throughout our history. These Trails – although different in length, geography and purpose – all face similar struggles.

As a member of the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) the NCTA works with these other trails in a variety of ways. Founded in 1997, the PNTS “connects member not-for-profit trail organizations and Federal agency partners to further the protection, completion, and stewardship of the 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails within the National Trails System.”  This partnership gives strength to each of us as individual professionals but also helps to make our collective voice one that will be heard.

Through PNTS’ Advocacy and Policy Committee we monitor federal agency policy and spend significant time responding to those that have an impact on our trails. With this coordinated effort to ensure our voices are heard we’ve been successful in shaping policy to reflect the needs of the trails and that of our volunteer stewards.  It’s through the PNTS that we elicit nationwide support for our NCT legislation (e.g. the Route Adjustment Act or ).

NCTA and NPS planning session

A view of the NCTA and NPS planning session.

Through PNTS Biennial Scenic / Historic Trail Workshops and its joint Biennial Conferences, agency and nonprofit staff gather to learn more about emerging issues including energy development and land acquisition. We hone our skills in GIS and brainstorm ideas for public engagement and marketing. We share our successes and challenges, heartbreaks and new ideas. I’ve brought back much of what I’ve learned over the years and incorporated it into what we do at NCTA.

This year’s National Scenic Trail workshop was held in November 2016 in Pensacola, hosted by the Florida Trail Association. NCTA’s Director of Trail Development, Regional Trail Coordinators and GIS Coordinator (Andrea, Matt R., Matt D, Kenny and Bill) attended along with all three of our National Park Service staff (Mark, Chris and Luke). On the agenda were topics such as using GIS to support land acquisition, coping with increased use on the trail and strategies to engage diverse audiences. Most of the sessions were presented in an open space meeting format, which offers incredible flexibility for the conversations to benefit those in the room. There were also plenary sessions focused on Trail Protection planning and Youth and Diversity. Our staff attended many of the sessions and have been reporting back on how they think we can use what they learned. The moderators of each session also take notes and they will be distributed to all attendees. (Note: the agenda is online for anyone interested in learning more about these workshops.)

If possible, we also like to take advantage our time at the workshops to have our own meetings with NCTA and NPS staff. This year, we arrived in Florida a day early to hold a one-day planning session that made positive movement forward on our challenge to define the roles and responsibilities in our partnership as each of us grows.

Maybe most important are the personal connections we build while at these workshops, both between the larger community and within our own staff. I watched as the dynamic between our NCTA and NPS staff changed when we got on the beach volleyball court and how ideas came alive when we shared a beer while watching the sun set. It is those experiences that set a tone that will last long beyond this workshop.

With only 11 National Scenic Trails, the work we do is specialized. This community offers the opportunity to share, collaborate and learn from each other and a chance to celebrate with and lean on each other. It’s a powerful community and we are proud to be part of it.

NCTA Trail Management Staff

NCTA’s Trail Management Staff. L-R: Bill Menke, Matt Davis, Kenny Wawsczyk, Matt Rowbotham, Andrea Ketchmark

Here is what the staff had to say about attending the Workshop:

“These workshops have a more intimate feel than the regular conferences that I’ve been too and they cover a wide variety of topics. You get to chose which one of the four topics for that hour you’d like to attend, and if you and some others would like to further discuss a particular topic or start a new one, simply do so. Also if you find that the discussion isn’t exactly what you thought it would be then you are encouraged to leave and attend another discussion. The small groups offer more opportunities to talk about your specific issues and get ideas and thoughts from other organizations, and with all the National Scenic invited you get a wide variety of different perspectives.”  — Kenny Wawsczyk, Regional Trail Coordinator for MI

“It is always good to attend these conferences and to re-connect with the trail staff from our sister NSTs. I never fail to be re-energized by the things we talk about both during the formal sessions and during the more informal after hour gatherings.

Several of the formal sessions were totally interesting and informative. It is particularly interesting to hear how our Forest Service trail managers are forging ahead with Regional and National policies to protect the trails they manage.” — Bill Menke, Regional Trail Coordinator for WI

“The opportunity to spend time with other mapping and GIS professionals, that are specifically focused on National Trails GIS issues, is priceless. The exchanging of ideas can get especially intense on this topic. Concepts that I have been introduced to from these workshops have definitely moved the needle forward on the NCTA’s GIS program. It’s also been really neat to see how some of the contributions we’ve made have been molded and modified by other trail groups.” — Matt Rowbotham, NCTA’s GIS Coordinator

“I left Pensacola with some concrete ideas for strengthening the relationships with all of our agency partners in both North Dakota and Minnesota.  The after hours networking with our NST colleagues is both invaluable and fun…and my morning walks on the beach were pretty enjoyable!”  — Matthew Davis, Regional Trail Coordinator for ND & MN

4 Tips for Hiking all the North Country Trail in One State

Posted by


Have you ever thought about hiking all of the miles of the North Country Trail in your state? Marci and her husband Darrell just passed 500 miles on their goal to hike all 1,150 miles of the NCT in Michigan.

They started out simply with day hikes and then got hooked. Marci has tips for those who might consider a goal like this, even if you don’t think you’re in shape and are still working full-time and don’t think you have the time!

by Marci Burke, Chief Noonday Chapter Member

couple hikes all of michigan north country trail

Marci and Darrell at their 500-mile mark!

My husband, Darrell, and I have always loved to hike together. We usually just did short loops or out-and-back hikes. Our most frequented areas were around Kellogg Forest (Augusta, MI), Red Bridge area of the Manistee River (Wellston, MI), and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising, MI).

When we first started hiking, we didn’t know there was a common thread with our favorite areas – the North Country Trail passes through each of these areas! Our interest was piqued as we began to notice signs and kiosks describing the trail.

Our first planned NCT hike was a 100-mile backpacking trip from Pictured Rocks area to Tahquamenon Falls area.  It was a personal challenge that we wanted to accomplish.

We made it, and we fell in love with the North Country Trail. That was in 2011.In 2015 we made it a goal to section hike the entire state.

As of 1-1-17 we have hiked 500 miles. We are aiming to average 30 miles per month this year and next year so we will complete the trail by the end of 2018.

We both have jobs that don’t allow us a lot of time off work, so we hike when we can. We are 50-ish and 60-ish and not in perfect shape. All it takes to succeed is a good pair of shoes, a backpack, and a love of the trail!

Tips for those considering hiking all the North Country Trail in one state:

1. Plan, plan, plan.

  • Just do it! Haha, in reality it does take a little bit of planning.
  • Look at the terrain, weather patterns, and trail accessibility to determine how long your hikes will be. It is faster hiking when there aren’t elevation changes.
  • Summer has longer daylight hours than winter, so we plan longer hikes during those daylight hours.
  • We chose to hike certain sections of trail at certain times of the year for safety and/or comfort due to snow or river crossings. For instance, rather than take a road hike around a river fording, we hiked that section in late summer when the water level was lower (and warmer!)
  • The southern portion of our state has less snowfall, so we hike more of those miles in the spring and winter.

IMG_20150916_101348444 (1)

2. You don’t have to hike sequentially.

It isn’t necessary to hike the whole trail sequentially.

However, in order to keep an accurate record of our hiking progress, we do start or end our hikes at the terminus of a previous hike in that area.

We also keep a map on the wall at home that shows our progress.  It serves both as a reminder of where we have been and an incentive for we have yet to go.

NCT miles

3. You don’t have to be strong to hike the trail. Hike the trail to get strong.

The benefits of hiking the North Country Trail are many, but they may differ for each individual.  I find that the trail is a place where I know I will be challenged and grow both physically and mentally. If something is bothering my mind, I can think it through as I hike. If something is uncomfortable with my body, my mental strength keeps me going. There really is some truth to “mind over matter.”


4. Hike your own hike.

  • A day hike will get you out on the trail (that’s how we started).
  • A thru-hike will keep you on the trail (we can’t get away for that long).
  • A section hike will keep you going back to the trail and this is the method that is working for us right now.


On a recent hike in the cold and snow, we were tired and sore but excited to meet the milestone of 500 miles. After mile 499 I asked my husband, “If we were on our last mile to complete the entire state, how do you think you would feel right now – elated, relieved, or disappointed to be done?”  He answered, “All of the above.  I guess I would be thinking about what our next hike would be.”

500 miles

That just about sums up our trail experience.  Even with an end goal of hiking all of Michigan, each end is the next beginning.

Couple Hikes all of NCT Kent County Michigan

Posted by

We’ve loved hearing all of your stories from the Hike 100 Challenge during 2016. We heard stories of people who decided to hike a little bit in all 7 states, those who did all the border crossings, a woman who finished hiking all of Michigan, and now a couple who hiked all the miles in their county in Michigan. It’s a choose-your-own adventure challenge. What will you do for 2017? Sign up now and join us!

Photos and story by K.D. and TJ Norris

Kent County, in west Michigan, is shaped like an oblong box measuring about 25 miles east to west and about 35 miles north to south. The North Country Trail runs the length of the county, but at a total of 71 meandering miles, with protected woodlands at the north border, rural farmlands on the south border, and mostly suburban roadways between.

As North Country Trail Association newcomers and recent Kent County residents, we decided our 2016 Hike 100 trek would be to hike the county. And hike every mile of it we did, some sections twice as often logistics required out-and-back hikes. The ending total on the border-to-border hike was 112.5 total miles.

NCT at Kent south border

At the south border of Kent County, MI

The trek began in January, with light snow on the ground in second-growth forests, continued through spring trillium blooms and bug swarms, and included one 90-degree summer day walking asphalt roads skirting the Grand Rapids metro area. It ended in early November along freshly harvested corn and soy bean fields just south of Lowell, the mid-way point of the NCT and national headquarters of the North Country Trail Association.

Much of the county’s NCT is walked on rural roads of both the paved and gravel variety, with several short sections of paved hike/bike paths and even sidewalks in the area of Rockford (a lovely town along the Rogue River and connector to a spur south into downtown Grand Rapids). From Rockford north, the trail follows the path of the heavily biked White Pine Trail north from Rockford to Indian Lakes Road, and may soon extend on the White Pine farther north to Cedar Springs before heading west.

NCT north of Rockford 2x28x16

North of Rockford

That extension would be a good thing, too, as walking along Indian Lakes Road west of the White Pine Trail was maybe the most dangerous stretch to walk, where hikers share a heavily-traveled paved road with cars; at least it was so when this pair walked it in the spring.

Among the highlights, and occasional warnings, of the hike were:

  • Trestle Park: on the White Pine Trail between Indian Lakes Road and Rockford, has a great historic marker detailing the restored railroad trestle. It also has toilet facilities, but bring your own paper and sanitary wipes!
  • Sunfish Lake: just south of Cannon Township Park on Belding Road (with parking and supplied public toilets), the highlight a long boardwalk through an extensive wetlands area filled with abundant aquatic and avian wildlife.
  • Townsend Park: just north of Cannonsburg Road NE, paved walkway but still a welcome detour off paved roads.
  • Between Seidman Park and Fallasburg Park: a puzzling portion of the trail; depending on your direction you backtrack north to south on the trail. For us, we walked from south of 2 Mile to back up north of 3 Mile roads before returning south of 2 Mile again, and all on public roads until Fallasburg Park, with its scenic Flat River crossing.
  • Biggs Avenue NE: part of the Seidman to Fallasburg park jog, the trail is a rural country road passing through a large farm. Cows and cornfields and that peculiar smell of real rural life. It’s an acquired appreciation but ambiance nonetheless.
  • The City of Lowell: NCT office, the Flat River dams, a very nice wooded area at the confluence of the Flat and Grand rivers (where we saw an eagle on an August afternoon). And a brew pub in downtown. All good on a late summer day.
  • Grand River crossing to Barry County line: long stretch of walking on paved county roads (crossing Interstate 96), with the northern portion heavy-traveled by vehicles and the southern portion lightly traveled and a much more pleasant walk.

Spring Trillium on NCT 5x22x16

All and all, the Kent County portion of the NCT may not be the most scenic stretch of the trail, and we understand it is still in flux as to route.

But if you are traveling from the east to the west on the trail (south to north through Michigan) you can look forward to more extensive stretches of woodlands north of the county as the trail enters the Manistee National Forest.

We plan to strike north of Kent County as part of this year’s #Hike100NCT miles.

A New Hiker Oasis is Coming – Skyline Camp

Posted by

Photos and story by Duane Lawton, Jordan Valley 45o Chapter, Michigan

Near Petoskey, Michigan the NCT passes through the City of Petoskey’s Skyline Natural Area.  There is a short spur trail with a viewing platform where westbound thru-hikers get their first glimpse of Lake Michigan.  In addition, working with local landowners Doug and Pam Boor, a campsite has been set up just off the city property—Skyline Camp.

View Map Full Size

The Boors donated a “yurt”—actually a wooden-framed canvas tent on a platform—which we erected in late 2015.  We also installed a fire ring and built the spur trails to the camp and to a small spring downhill for non-potable water.  Unfortunately, last winter the yurt collapsed under the snow load.

Joe Farley to the rescue!  Joe is a boy scout who chose as his Eagle Scout project to build a permanent shelter on the platform where the yurt was.


A crowd of boy scouts and eager handy-people set out to build the new Skyline Camp shelter building starting on November 12, and continuing on the 13th, 26th and 27th.  We had reasonable weather (which is why we didn’t work on the 19th).  Many scouts helped with the work, and they provided scrumptious lunches using dutch ovens in campfire coals.

Scouts at work

Scouts at work

We now have a roughed-in structure with a roof, a covered porch, and a small sleeping loft. The inside dimensions are 12’ x 13’, spacious for a trail shelter.  Doug Boor has furnished two windows and a door.  There will also be two large west-facing screened openings, wood siding, a metal roof and bunks…and we have a latrine!





Another scout, Chase Rawson—for his Eagle Scout project—is nearing completion of the improvements to the spring water source down the hill. That will be a huge plus for hikers using the shelter.


Water source

We look forward to finishing finishing the work in spring 2017…

The shelter will then be open for business, under the rules posted there.  The closest access is to use the Skyline parking area off Krause Rd. one mile south of Brubaker, which is southeast of Petoskey.  From there it is about 1/3 mile by trail to the camp.


To get there from Petoskey: Head east on Mitchell and turn right on Division Road.  Follow Division a short distance to Atkins where you’ll head east again for .5 miles.  Turn right on Cedar Valley Road and go another .5 miles to Greenwood Road where you will want to turn left.  Follow Greenwood around the curve 1.5 miles to four-way intersection.  Continue south on Brubaker Road for one mile.  Turn right on Krause Road – go one more mile.  Sign and parking on the right.

Woman Hikes all of Michigan’s North Country Trail

Posted by

Story and photos by Jo Oostveen

“What bridge did you say?” I asked in a puzzled voice.

“The Mackinaw Bridge”, he replied.

I was standing at the water pump with the only other person at the Pinney Bridge campground, early that May morning in 2011. I spied him as he came in late the previous night. I was on a two day hike of the Jordan River Pathway, which shares half of its miles with the North Country Trail.


Pondering his reply for a minute or so, I asked again, “You’re going to the Big Mac Bridge from here?”

The stranger told me that he had started near his home in Baldwin, and was determined to make the Bridge. My first thought was that he surely must be crazy, and I asked again, “Do you know how far that is from here?”

“Sure,” he said, and proceeded to tell me that six months earlier, he had had a massive heart attack. His doctor said that if he survived, he should plan to do “something special.”

The 40-something guy did get the chance, and he decided that he would hike all the way to the Bridge on the North Country Trail. I shared what trail information I had with him and we both went our separate ways.

Little did I know that this chance 5 minute encounter with a stranger would change the course of the next six years of my life. Sadly, I would never see him again, or ever know his name.


I was beginning the 60th year of my own life, and coming to the realization that my backpacking days may be coming to an end. My husband, Don, of over 40 years, was not a backpacker, but had always been supportive of my desire to “walk down the trail.” Therefore, I had learned to hike solo, and was pretty confident of going it alone. With the thought of turning 60 looming over me, I had been hiking all my favorite Michigan hikes, “one more time before I die.” As I hiked the final miles that day, I decided that if the stranger could hike to the Bridge, maybe so could I.

After researching the North Country Trail, I was shocked to find out it came within 4 miles of our home. That year, with the help of my husband shuttling me down the trail, I managed to hike from the Hodenpyle Dam on the Manistee River to the outskirts of Kalkaska.This was a whopping 69 miles.


The hiking trips were limited, because of our other responsibilities. We were the proud “parents” of six rescued husky mixed dogs, at our home we affectionately call “Sled Dog Heaven.” This unfortunately requires someone to be around to tend to the dog chores. Additionally, our daughter who lives in Kalamazoo has a disability and had recently started her own “medical mystery” adventures. Many times, either Don or I had to be with her in Kalamazoo for support, which left the dogs for the one left up north. These two responsibilities severely limited my time for “hiking down the trail.”

The second year, I worked a bit harder, and I did make the Mackinaw Bridge. I thought of the hiker who had started me on this quest, as I ambled into downtown Mackinaw City. Looking across the expanse of the Straits of Mackinac, I wondered what the NCT looked like in the Upper Peninsula. Officially, I had caught “blue blaze fever.”

In 2013, I crossed the bridge, started north, and managed to get to the Twohearted River by years end. My fondest memory happened just north of Tahquamenon Falls. It was October and the third day of continual rain  In the middle of nowhere a lone hiker came towards me. It was Al Learned with his tiny pack and happy go lucky smile. On the other hand, I had a huge pack draped in rain covers, with a probably sour look on my face that said, I was tired of the weather. I learned that day to hike lighter and happier.

By the following year, I had poured over more maps and was serious. Deciding to start early in the year, I hiked from the Dam on the Manistee River heading south. I ended my southern hiking at the NCT Schoolhouse. The trails were wonderful (thank you Red Plaid Nation). I was hooked on blue blazes.


In the UP, I hiked from the Twohearted River to Munising. Along the way I met some fine NCT folks, and with some strong encouragement from the Superior Shoreline Chapter, I decided that I needed to join the Red Plaid Nation. I made a pledge to them that I would devote all my time to their efforts on the trail, well, just as soon as I completed my now new goal of completing all 1150 miles of the NCT in the state of Michigan by the time I turned 65.

My family now knew that I was serious about completing this goal of hiking all the NCT in Michigan “before I died” or “turned 65” whichever came first. With help from Don and my daughter Kristi, I hiked south from the NCT Schoolhouse to the NCT Headquarters in Lowell. In the U.P., I managed to go from Munising to Craig Lake State Park.

The kindness of strangers and the local NCT chapters, always amazed me. The Upper Peninsula was so beautiful and spectacular. After hiking in Michigan for about 30 years, I never knew such beautiful places existed, and that you only had to “take a hike” down the North Country Trail to experience them.

2016 came quickly, and so did my quest to complete the goal before my birthday. I still had about 175 very tough miles to complete in the U.P., and 160 or so from Lowell to Ohio. In early March, Kristi “delivered me into the woods” as she said, to my start south of Lowell and off I went towards Ohio.

img_0096There were three very difficult trips in the U.P. left before I could step into Wisconsin. The first trip included Canyon Falls, and Big Lake SFCG, as well as spending a night at the Oren Krumm Shelter over the Sturgeon River. The last day, I was hiking to O-Kun-De-Kun Falls at US 45 when a bear cub appeared 5 feet in front of me. For a split second I marveled at how beautiful and cute he was, until I remembered that Mama might be near. My trusty orange, loudest whistle ever, did the trick and I never did see Mama.

The second trip followed the NCT over the Trapp Hills. Ron Strickland in The North Country Trail, describes this area as “….one of the most varied, spectacular, and historically interesting hikes on the entire NCT,” and I agree. If you can put only one hike on your “bucket list” make it this one. You will not be disappointed!

The far northwest area of the U.P. was hit with a storm in July that dumped 15 inches of rain in just three hours. Needless to say, that storm and others that followed played havoc on the trail systems. In spite of the weather disasters, the Red Plaid Nation did their best to make the trail passable through the Porkies, and on to the Black River area. Finally I was walking across the bridge over the Montreal River into Wisconsin.


Returning home, I completed the final few day hikes to Ohio. My job was done. From a chance 5 minute encounter with a stranger, I had hiked all the way from Ohio to Wisconsin. I want to thank the entire Red Plaid Nation for all their hard work keeping the trail in good condition, and to all the “trail angels” and random strangers who offered kindness along the trail. Also, thanks to my husband Don, who put up with my nutty quest, and my daughter, Kristi, who during her medical adventures was willing be my spotter.

It was the adventure of a lifetime, and I thank everyone involved with the North Country Trail who makes these “adventures” possible.

See you on the trail……..JO