Posts Tagged ‘New York’

North Country Trail Association is 35 years old!

Posted by


So today is our birthday!! The North Country Trail Association is 35 years old!

by Bruce Matthews, North Country Trail Association Executive Director

We’re youngsters compared to some, but that won’t keep us from celebrating.

It was on this day in 1981 that the first gathering of about 12 volunteers, including Lance Feild, Ginny Wunsch, and Ken Gackler, gathered at the bank in White Cloud, MI to discuss forming an organization to become the major non-profit partner with the National Park Service in building the North Country National Scenic Trail (signed into existence on March 5, 1980 by President Jimmy Carter as part of PL 96-199). Ginny is well-remembered for her service in acquiring the Birch Grove Schoolhouse for the NCTA, and faithfully managing it for many years.

Dues were set at $20, and Lance Feild, now the newly appointed President of the NCTA, was the first to make his payment as member # 1.

Early records are a bit sketchy (we don’t have meeting minutes from that first meeting) but among our list of current 30 year NCTA members are a few who joined in 1981 along with Ken Gackler—Don Beattie, Cecil and Joanne Dobbins, Milton Jones and Barbara Smith.

As we celebrate our birthday we recognize these pioneers whose faith in the legacy effort that will become a completed NCNST is the foundation of our organization. Their hard work has enabled us to be where we are today, and as we survey our landscape through the light of these 35 candles, we can see a LOT to be grateful for!

We're so thankful for all our volunteers over the past 35 years!

We’re so thankful for all our volunteers over the past 35 years!

So we should also list our 30-year members not already mentioned:

  • Pat Allen and Mark Miller (1983)
  • Joseph Brennan (1985)
  • Buckeye Trail Association (1985)
  • James Davis (1983)
  • Tom and Jan Gilbert (1982)
  • Anthony Haswell (1984)
  • Margaret Hutchins (1982)
  • James Kenning (1984)
  • Robert Krzewinski and Sally Allen Lund (1984)
  • Kalista Lehrer (1982)
  • Harlan Liljequist (1983)
  • Glenn Oster (1983)
  • James and Mary Richards/Maplelag (1983)
  • Dewey and Kay Wobma (1984)

So, step outside and join us in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday, to US! The North Country Trail Association!


Group hike with our Western Michigan Volunteers

Some highlights from the North Country Trail history:

1963—the national Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRC) issues recommendation that a national system of trails be developed.

1968—National Trails System Act passed by Congress.

1971—Feasibility study begins for the establishment of he North Country National Scenic Trail.

1980—North Country NST authorized by Congress

1981—North Country Trail Association established.

Aber---Sign-on-CR81--web1982—First issue of “The North Country Trailblazer” newsletter published and edited by Dr. John Hipps from Pennsylvania.

1989—Wes Boyd’s “Following the NCNST” becomes the first book published about the Trail.

1990—NPS locates administrative offices for the North Country and Ice Age National Scenic Trails, and the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail to Madison WI, and selects Tom Gilbert as superintendent.

1991—Byron and Margaret Hutchins publish their guide to “Certified Sections of the NCNST.”

1992—More than 1000 miles of NCNST now certified.

1995—The NCTA newsletter becomes the “North Star.”

1998—More than 1500 miles now certified.

1999—First hiking maps published by NCTA.

2000—NCNST named as one of only 16 National Millenium Trails by the White House. The only other National Scenic Trail so named is the AT.

2011—NPS Superintendent Tom Gilbert retires.

2012—NPS hires Mark Weaver as superintendent.

2015—NCNST grows to 2880 completed miles. Over $1.5 million in sweat equity spent by 1095 volunteers, almost $5 for every federal dollar supporting NCTA’s base operations.

2015 National Park Service Midwest Region Enduring Service Hartzog Award – Mary Coffin

Posted by


We are happy to announce that Mary Coffin has won the 2015 Midwest Region Enduring Service award for the George and Helen Hartzog Volunteer Awards with the National Park Service.

Mary’s work in New York was crucial in the years-long process of gaining approval to route the North Country National Scenic Trail through the Adirondack Park.

North Country Trail Adirondack Park

Some of Mary’s teammates on a scouting trip through the Adirondack Park. Mary is taking the photo.

For nearly 20 years, the National Park Service and its major partner group, the North Country Trail Association (NCTA), had been in seemingly endless negotiations with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to come to agreement on a suitable route for the North Country NST to cross the Adirondack Park.

To put this daunting task in perspective, consider that the Adirondack Park encompasses about 6 million acres, an area greater in size than Yellowstone. Nearly half of it is State Forest Preserve lands which are protected by the New York Constitution as “Forever Wild,” while the other half is privately owned parcels of various sizes.

The DEC spent years contemplating how best to integrate various alternative routes for the North Country NST within eight distinct Unit Management Plans to traverse the Adirondack Park, seeking to avoid heavily used areas while simultaneously using existing trails when possible. Predictably, the process was agonizingly slow and mired in bureaucratic red tape. It’s not an exaggeration to say that managers from all involved parties were becoming skeptical about a successful solution for the North Country NST through the Adirondacks.

Enter Mary Coffin, North Country NST volunteer. Mary understood that the only path to success was for someone to step up and personally see things through.

She, and a number of other invaluable volunteers who played essential roles, made it their mission to literally scout out, hike, GPS, photograph, evaluate, document, and report on each and every mile of all proposed alternative routes in order to provide the NPS, NCTA, DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency officials the solid and timely data they needed to eventually come to agreement on an approved route for the North Country NST.

After eight years and approximately 100 work trips into the wilds of the Adirondack Mountains, Mary’s herculean dedication came to fruition.


A view through the Adirondack Park. Photo by Mary Coffin

On September 25, 2015, the New York State DEC approved the Adirondack Park Trail Plan for the North Country NST, providing for 158 miles of trail route through five Wild Forests and four Wilderness Areas of the central Adirondacks.

Mary Coffin has been meeting the NPS Mission for the past 34 years. Her most recent accomplishment of helping secure the 158-mile route for the North Country NST through the Adirondack Park is in itself worthy of the Hartzog Enduring Service Award.

However, Mary’s stunning accomplishments, leadership, and dedication to volunteerism goes a great deal further.

Mary is one of those rarest of volunteers, rising to all aspects of trail stewardship with equal aplomb.  From personally crafting quality trail tread with hazel-hoe in hand, to chairing committees and work groups at the local, state, and national levels—Mary does it all. A small sampling of her extensive North Country NST volunteer accomplishments includes:

  • Secured seven permanent trail easements in the NY Finger Lakes region
  • 12-year chairperson of special work team to connect trail segments throughout the Onondaga, NY area
  • Served nine years on the NCTA Board of Directors
  • Chairs the NY-NCTA Volunteer Council
  • 5-Year Chairperson for NCTA Volunteer Membership Committee
  • Conducts trail design and maintenance workshops for youth and adults
  • Secured several grants for trail kiosks
  • Serves on NCTA Trail Protection Committee
  • Personally leads trail construction work crews for past 14 years.

Mary also initiated the “Extended Outings” program, where she coordinates all logistics and personally leads multi-day backpacking trips into various reaches of the North Country NST, sometimes within her nearby and beloved Adirondack wilderness, and sometimes as far away as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where the North Country NST winds its way through other parks such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Mary has led five such trips and has been the Chairperson for the “Outings Committee” for six years, sharing her passion for wild locales and her vast knowledge of remote backpacking skills with other volunteers and outdoor enthusiasts. Mary has more than 4,000 hours of recorded volunteer service.

The Midwest Region of the National Park Service encompasses 13 states and more than 60 parks and trails. Mary’s accomplishments were recognized as the most outstanding among all nominations submitted from this region in the Enduring Service category.

Congratulations, Mary! We are so thankful for your years of service and dedication to the North Country NST and the North Country Trail Association. This honor is well-deserved.

New Trail Progress Report Celebrates Accomplishments on the North Country Trail

Posted by

2015 was an incredible year on the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Through innovative and collaborative partnerships and the dedication thousands of volunteers, our trail miles and amenities continue to grow, one year and one project at a time.

Without all of these partners, there would be no North Country Trail, but because there are so many partners, the full picture of what’s happening can be difficult to grasp.

J45 hike with Kenny

1,095 volunteers worked 66,166 hours, valued at $1.5 million by the independent sector!

This Trail Progress report is our newest tool to communicate the accomplishments of this vast and varied partnership. It summarizes our new trail miles, improvements, volunteer hours and money invested directly in the trail in 2015.

We’ve captured not only the North Country Trail Association accomplishments but those of our Affiliates, Partners and the Federal and State agencies that manage the trail and we’ll continue to strive for better and more complete information each year. This is only the beginning!

In 2015, our volunteers and partners built 23 miles of new North Country Trail giving us 2,880 miles of the NCT that are open for use!

The highlighted projects we’ve chosen give a representative look at accomplishments in several categories: construction and maintenance, planning and protection.

But they are only a sampling of the work by volunteers and agencies across seven states. With the accompanying online story map, we’ll be able to list many more projects which will only add to your sense of awe at all we can accomplish when working toward a common goal.


$398,155 was spent on construction, maintenance, supplies and labor.

With this report, our partners and volunteers will be able to answer the questions:

  • What did we collectively accomplish on the North Country National Scenic Trail in 2015?
  • How much have we built in the past decade?
  • How many resources are we putting directly into the trail?

Spreading that message is a reminder to all of us to celebrate what we do and it’s an invitation to new people to join us in this quest to build the longest National Scenic Trail in America.

Click here or on the images below to view or download the full 2015 Trail Progress Report:

2015 Trail Progress Report FINAL_Page_2

2015 Trail Progress Report FINAL_Page_1



Hamming it up along the North Country Trail

Posted by

by John Forslin

The National Park Service and American Ham Radio have hooked up celebrate the NPS Centennial this year. The connection is that radio has a huge reach, and this is an opportunity for the world to listen in as hams tell each other about the Parks units they are “activating.” And truth told, hams have a great time doing the “activating!”


Hauled battery and gear in on a Yooperscoop! Packed snow all the way so no stress. Hard assembling the antenna in -3 wind chill. Gloves came off for that! Chemical toe warmers helped, too! Photo by Kellie Barry-Angeli

So is ham radio still around? You bet! There are around 740,000 operators in the US.

The hobby has morphed over and over and has kept up with modern tech. Radio uses computers and the internet.

Hams bounce signals off the moon, northern light displays and meteor trails. Many hams help with service projects, and train with local emergency services to help in communications emergencies (fires, floods, hurricanes).

Activations are challenges – can we get equipment to a remote location, set up and operate successfully under adverse conditions?

The National Parks on the Air project is just a few weeks old and is already a stunning success in terms of getting hams out into park units and logging contacts.

The NCNST has been activated several times, with some venues being a little tougher than others. Hams “spot” activations by posting up about them on websites dedicated to this.

A few hams who are also Trail fans are plotting a Light Up the Trail weekend sometime in the spring, getting a few hams in each state the Trail traverses on the air on the same day. That would be very fun for the operators, too, and create considerable buzz about the scope of our Trail. Keep an eye on the NCTA e-mail newsletter for details.

You probably know active ham operators. Check with them if you can help on an activation or even just listen to some of the activity. Who knows – you might find yourself licensed before the years is out and playing along.

John Forslin, callsign KC8ULE
Marquette, Michigan

North Country Trail in the Adirondacks

Posted by


On September 25, 2015 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the approval of the Adirondack Park Trail Plan for the North Country National Scenic Trail.

The plan routes the National Scenic Trail through the Adirondack Park and incorporates the North Country NST into the state’s Adirondack trail system. Approval of the plan will be effective on October 10.




Bruce Matthews, Executive Director for the North Country Trail Association said, “New York State’s Adirondack Park has long been viewed by the North Country Trail community as one of the Trail’s crown jewels. Its wilderness areas, rugged and mountainous terrain, deep northwoods character and pristine nature makes hiking in the Adirondack Park a unique experience for North Country Trail users.

We’ve been trying to obtain final approval for an approved route for well over ten years, and now we finally have one. New Yorkers cherish and protect their Adirondacks, which includes a “Forever Wild” clause in the state constitution. Through the efforts and perseverance of Mary Coffin and her team of scouting and GPSing volunteers, the National Park Service, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency have finally arrived at agreement on the route, which we’ll be able to begin marking this fall.”

What you will see in the Adirondacks





There’s no way to ever offer enough thanks to Mary Coffin and a crew of volunteers who have tirelessly scouted, bushwhacked, and trekked through the area with GPS units to evaluate potential routes. No one knows this new route better than Mary.

She explains what you will see when you hike across this scenic area:

“The route crosses five Wild Forests and four Wilderness Areas in the central Adirondacks and spans 158 miles from North Lake Road via the Stone Dam Lake Trail to Crown Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain. The next step is to make sure the routes are included in the nine Unit Management Plans (UMP) or amendments to existing UMPs. At the very least we will now be permitted to place NCNST signage at trail heads of existing trails which comprise about 50% of the route.

The route offers the foot traveler some of the best scenery characteristic of the Adirondacks and a national scenic trail and the typical Adirondack ambience and wilderness experience. One can plan long distance hikes and backpacks or family day trips. Adirondack communities can provide lodging, camping, food and gas to support hikers. People who walk any part of the Adirondack route can expect to see many lakes, ponds, bogs, beaver ponds, streams and deciduous and coniferous forests, glacial erratic boulders, rocky cliffs, mountains and spectacular views.

Despite the frustrations and patience and persistence required over the years, it has all been fun and challenging except for writing reports for the DEC after each excursion. And it is all outdoors in beautiful serene surroundings, so I have enjoyed it and will continue to do so as we add amendments to each UMP for the units. I believe three of the nine units include a specific NCNST route so we will start in the field with those. We will flag at first and finally construct an environmentally friendly trail in this special area.”




DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said, “The trail will provide opportunities for families looking for day hikes as well as a route for experienced backpackers looking for a multi-state, long distance challenge.”

The 158-mile Adirondack route for the North Country NST intersects eight state management units of the Forest Preserve:

More Great Hiking in New York

Within New York State, many sections of the North Country NST already exist. The Trail enters the state in Allegany State Park, where it then overlaps with the Finger Lakes Trail for 460 miles. With the completion of the Adirondack Park Trail Plan, sections of existing trail within the Park can now be marked and maintained as the North Country NST, further eliminating gaps within the Trail.

The plan approves using approximately 81 miles of existing foot trail and constructing 39 miles of new trail within the park. It is estimated that 27 miles of temporary connections along roads will be initially used to make connections along this route. Within the Adirondack Park, the North Country NST will be approximately 158 total miles in length when complete, stretching from the Hamlet of Forestport in Oneida County to the Hamlet of Crown Point on the shore of Lake Champlain.

The North Country Trail Association appreciates the support of Governor Cuomo, the DEC, and New York representatives.

Senator Hugh T. Farley:

The plan’s approval marks an important step in the development of this ambitious trail. New York’s participation in the North Country National Scenic Trail should help attract more visitors to the State and to the Adirondack region. It will also provide additional recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.”

Senator Betty Little:

We want more people coming to the Adirondacks, not only for the obvious tourism benefit, but for the mental wellness benefit which one cannot put a price on. You can drive through the Adirondacks and see its beauty, but to walk through, to hike the mountains, is truly a unique and unforgettable experience. You break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reacquaint with simply being. I am very pleased to join Governor Cuomo and others in making this announcement and look forward to seeing the trail system develop.”

State Assemblyman Marc Butler:

I am extremely excited about the continued opportunity that DEC is offering people from all over the world to further enjoy the immense beauty of the Adirondacks. The rerouting section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail connects the many small villages and communities to the vast wonders of the Forest Preserve. Economic Development, recreation, and appreciation for what lies just outside our doorway is enhanced by the DEC as they act as Stewards of this great land. This section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail was successfully executed after much work by the DEC and the Adirondack Mountain Club. Working together, they made this celebration possible.”



Bill Farabee, Chairman, Essex County Board of Supervisors:

Essex County and Crown Point is the eastern terminus of the NCST. This trail and the promotion of it will bring increased attention and interest by visitors to our region. We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s support to develop this trail through and near our communities, as he is doing on many initiatives throughout the Park. This trail will be one more big reason for hikers and tourists from many states to visit this region and Essex County as a premier tourism destination.”

Bill Farber, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman:

The NCST is a grand effort to connect tourists and hikers from many states throughout the country to our fantastic natural resources and communities. Governor Cuomo’s support of this trail is one more effort that does this at a national scale. We appreciate the Governor’s support for this initiative and the many others that are helping so many enjoy our park and enable our communities to capture the value the Adirondack Park offers us. His support of this effort along with others such as exploring opportunities with the Great South Woods and development of a Hut to Hut system linking communities and wilderness helps strengthen this region and has it stand out as a tourist destination. That’s good for the enjoyment of tourists, and the vibrancy of our communities that results from that.”

Neil F. Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club:

The Adirondack Mountain Club strongly supports the routing, layout and trail construction of the North Country National Scenic Trail, one of the premier long distance hiking and backpacking trails in America. This famed trail will benefit many communities in the Adirondack Park. ADK is proud that many of its members helped scout and map the location of this valuable west to east route across the Adirondack Park. ADK is ready to help construct those sections of hiking trail that need to be created.”

For more information on the route maps and to view the full plan, visit DEC’s website.

Thank you to all our volunteers and donors who make efforts like this possible. Together, we are providing a world-class hiking experience.

Get involved today! Click here to make a donation. Your contribution will help us built Trail in the Adirondacks and across our 7 states. Click here to fill out a volunteer form.

*All photos courtesy of Mary Coffin.

New York Rendezvous Recap

Posted by


September 10-13, we gathered with our friends from across our seven states to celebrate the North Country National Scenic Trail. Our partners at the Finger Lakes Trail Conference hosted us at Greek Peak and the beautiful Hope Lake Lodge. Together, we had a fabulous weekend of learning and hiking.

Here is a sampling of the weekend’s adventures. Be sure to look for more photos and a recap in the upcoming issue of the North Star. Don’t know what the North Star is? It’s our quarterly magazine for members of the North Country Trail Association. Join our community today and be sure to get the next issue!


North Country National Scenic Trail Day – September 26

Posted by


Join us September 26 for North Country National Scenic Trail Day! It’s a day set aside to celebrate this great Trail that spans 7 states and over 4,600 miles. Whether you get out and hike on your own, with your family and friends, or join one of our events, it’s sure to be a day of enjoying nature and having new adventures. Share your adventures on social media using #NCNSTDay

Here’s a listing of events that you can participate in for the day. Check back often as we’ll be updating this list:

North Dakota:



Lake Ashtabula, Valley City ND (map): Join the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter for a full day of events along Lake Ashtabula. We will have a light trail work project. Bring your own sack lunch, then hike along Lake Ashtabula, ending with a Chapter provided dinner at Mel Rieman Recreational Area overlooking Baldhill Dam and Lake Ashtabula. Meet at the Rosebud Visitor Center at 9:00 AM to car pool.
  • Location: Lake Ashtabula, Rosebud Visitor Center, 250 West Main Street, Valley City, ND
  • Time: Meet at 9 a.m. to carpool.
  • ContactBecky Heise


Fort Abercrombie State Historical Site: Join the Dakota Prairie Chapter for “Hike Every Mile” between Fort Abercrombie State Historical Site which is the eastern terminus of the NCNST and Lisbon, ND. The goal is to have people hike each piece of the Dakota Prairie section of the NCNST. Hikers will provide their own food, water, and other personal hiking gear. A post-hike celebration including food, beverages, music and conversation will be held at the Ekre Grassland Preserve starting about 2:30 p.m.
  • Location: Event headquarters: Ekre Grassland Preserve; Richland County southwest of Kindred. To minimize transportation times and distances, segment hikers west of the Ekre Preserve will walk west to east, and segment hikers east of the Ekre Preserve will walk east to west.
  • Distance: Hike routes will be predetermined segments, both off-road trail and on-road routes, varying in length from 2 to 10 miles. Each trail segment will be hiked by at least one team composed of 1 or more people.  To the extent possible, teams will be given their choice of segments.
  • Time: Starting times of each segment hike will be set so hikers finish and return to the event headquarters by about 3:00 p.m. or sooner.  Hikers should register at the Ekre Preserve prior to their hike. Transportation to and from hikes will be arranged so teams can share cars and simplify shuttles.
  • Contact: Tom Moberg for more information.




Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge’s Visitors Center/Discovery Center: Join the Laurentian Lakes Chapter for a trail building day. The Chapter will work on a spur trail with a loop off of it leading to the North Country Trail to the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge’s Visitors Center/Discovery Center.

  • Location: Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 35704 County Hwy 26, Rochert, MN 56578
  • Time: Meet at 9 a.m. at the Visitor Center
  • For more information: contact Matthew Davis


Milton Lake esker in the Chippewa National Forest: Join the Arrowhead Chapter for a guided hike on the Milton Lake esker by Remer. This short out and back hike follows this beautiful geologic feature where you can see old growth pines and views of wetlands below.

  • Location: the hike is located in the Chippewa National Forest north of Remer, GPS: 47.134515, -93.934350
  • Time: Meet at 10 a.m. at the Remer Depot (49 W. Main Street, Remer, MN)
  • For more information: contact Katie Blau.




photo credit: Nick Graham

The Rose Cliff Loop of the Border Route Trail: Join the Border Route Trail Association for a 13 mile day hike on the Rose Cliff Loop. The challenging trail sections of the Caribou Rock, Border Route, South Lake and Moss Lake trails will reward you with multiple scenic overlooks, stands of old growth timber, and Stairway Falls. Wear long sleeves, long pants and hiking boots. Bring a bag lunch plus 2 liters of water or 1 liter and a filter.

  • Location: Start and End at the Trailhead on Hungry Jack Rd off the Gunflint trail (CR 12). (48°03’41.5″N, 90°27’20.0″W / 48.061518, -90.455562)
  • Time: Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Caribou Rock Trailhead Parking area on Hungry Jack Rd.
  • For more information: contact Bob Westphal,




Lake Owen, Drummond, WI: Join the Chequamegon Chapter as they  celebrate the life of their long-time, dedicated member, Bob Norlin who passed away on August 30.  The Chequamegon Chapter of the NCTA is therefore having a “Celebration of Life Picnic” to honor Bob Norlin’s memory at the Drummond Lake Park in Drummond, WI on Sunday, September 27 from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  We will share our many photos and stories about Bob.  We will celebrate NCNST Day at the same event.

The Chequamegon Chapter will provide brats, buns, condiments, paper plates, cups, utensils and lemonade.  People attending are asked to bring a dish to pass.  Members from all three Wisconsin NCTA Chapters have been invited to this event as Bob was a familiar face, volunteering with all three chapters.  Agency partners, such as the US Forest Service and US Park Service have also been invited.
RSVP’s to Mary Stenberg at are welcome so that we can get an approximate head count.




Upper Peninsula:

Marquette: Join the NCT Hikers chapter for “Celebrate Walking in Marquette”

  • Time: Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Location: Start at Lower Harbor Mattson Park and walk along Lake Superior on the fully accessible Trail. Walk as far north our south as you wish, turn around and return. The chapter will have a booth set up, and you can sign up to win free t-shirts and learn more about the NCNST and the walk to end Alzheimer’s.
  • For more information contact


Tahquamenon Falls State Park: Join the Superior Shoreline chapter for “Hike Tween Da Falls.” The 5-mile River Trail parallels the Tahquamenon River between the Upper and Lower Falls, traversing through old-growth forest, giant cedars and  hemlocks, and beautiful wildflowers. Closed-toe shoes, water and snacks are recommended. Leashed dogs are welcome on the shuttle and the hiking trails

  • Time: Between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for “Hike Tween Da Falls.”
  • Location: Hikers park their vehicle at the Lower Falls and take a free shuttle to the trail head at the Upper Falls. Shuttle begins at 9:00 am and runs every thirty minutes. The last shuttle departs the Lower Falls at 1:00 pm.
  • For more information contact Kay here.


Lower Peninsula:

Ada Water Festival: Join the West Michigan Chapter for the festival at Roselle Park. The Grand River Run 8k starts at 9 a.m. and a 2k family run and walk at 10:30 a.m. The Festival runs 9am-4pm. The day-long activities kick off with races followed by an award ceremony and ongoing entertainment and activities for all ages-bands, musicians, fresh food, hands-on youth arts/craft activities, animal interactions, plant sales, water/ecology/other educational exhibits and displays, nature walks and talks, hiking, biking, and more.
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Location: 1010 Grand River Drive NE Ada, MI 
  • Contact Chuck Vannette here.
  • Get more information about the festival here.


White Cloud Trail Town Celebration: Join the West Michigan Chapter for a weekend-long celebration at the White Cloud Campground. Events start Friday Sept 25 from 6-9 p.m. with food, a music & beer tent, and free horse and wagon rides to the haunted village. Events on Saturday start at 9 a.m. with the Independent Bank Blue Blaze and White River Kayak Race race packet pickups. The rest of the day includes food, exhibitors, kid activities, music & beer tent, free horse & wagon rides to the haunted village, and a free movie in the park at dusk.


Middleville: Join the Chief Noonday Chapter for a 3.5 mile hike. We will hike from Irving Road, east of Middleville, back to Middleville on the North Country Trail shared with the Paul Henry Trail. Note:  Downtown bridge out; use Crane Street Bridge from west.
  • Time & Location: Breakfast at 8:00 a.m. at the Big Easy at 126 E. Main Street, Middleville. Hike will begin at 9:00 AM.   F
  • For more information contact Larry Pio at Larry Pio here.


Irons, MI: Join the Spirit of the Woods Chapter at 10 AM for a hike on the North Country Trail near the Sauble River.

  • Time: 10 a.m.
  • Location: Meet at Sweetfern Café 7595 W 5 Mile Rd, Irons, MI 49644. (Please park around the back of the store).
  • Distance: The hike will be approximately 5 miles long and we will hike over the Vince Smith Bridge. The Forest Service is exploring the idea of constructing a suspension bridge at this site.
  • For more information: Contact Loren Bach at 231-510-1983 or email Loren here. Maps available at or Spirit of the Woods Chapter will also host an October hike the following weekend. Please join them on Saturday, October 3 at 10 am for a hike at Bowman Lake trails near Baldwin. The hike will be about 6 miles round trip. Meet at the Bowman Lake trailhead west of Baldwin on 55th Street. Contact Joan for more information.


Jordan Valley: Join the Jordan Valley 45 Chapter for a day filled with events from a group hike which will include planting a new distance sign/register box at the 45th parallel, to a potluck dinner and chapter meeting in the evening, featuring a special presentation by Jim DuFresne, noted wilderness guidebook author, speaking on “Exploring Isle Royale National Park”.
  • Event: Group Hike
  • Time: Meet at 2 p.m.
  • Location: Landslide Overlook parking lot, from US-131 drive 1 mile west on Alba Rd. then turn Right on Harvey Rd., unpaved (you will see a sign for Landslide Overlook) Drive to end. (map) A shuttle will return drivers to that point.
  • Distance: 3.5 miles Hike in Jordan Valley from Landslide Overlook to Pinney Bridge (3.5 miles) We will plant our sixth distance sign/register box at the 45th parallel. Be one of the first to sign the new register log!
  • For more information contact Duane Lawton.
  • Event: Potluck Dinner. Bring a (small) dish to pass—starch, veg, salad. Entree and beverage and dessert will be provided
  • Time: 6:00 pm
  • Location: Boyne Valley Fire Hall in Boyne Falls
  • Event: Chapter Meeting. Report on the NCTA Rendezvous just completed in New York along with recent hike reports and a special treat: Jim DuFresne, noted wilderness guidebook author, speaking on “Exploring Isle Royale National Park”. Note: This meeting was previously announced in the Newsletter as Sept. 19.
  • Time: 7:00 pm
  • Location: Boyne Valley Fire Hall in Boyne Falls.



McConnells Mill State Park: Join the Wampum Chapter at the annual McConnell’s Mill Heritage Festival, September 26th and 27th located at 2697 McConnells Mill Road, Portersville, PA 16051. More info about the festival here.


New York:


Allegany State Park: Join the FLT (Finger Lakes Trail) for a 10.4 mile hike “Hiking with a new State in Mind.” How often do you cross a state line on a hike?  If you answered…never…well here is your chance to do so! We’ll hike through Allegany State Park in New York State with a “new State in Mind” to the NY/PA state line marked with a picturesque trail marker made for plenty of photo opportunities.  We’ll then sign the trail register at the border and proceed into Pennsylvania on our way back to our cars at PA 346. Come out and join us for a fun and scenic hike without the headaches of a passport, dodging border patrols and declaring your water bottle at the border.

  • FLTC Map: M1
  • Meeting time:  8:30 am
  • Meeting Place:  Map M1, Access 1, PA 346, Pennsylvania.
  • Directions: Make your way to Rt. 86, exit 18, west of Salamanca, NY.  Take Rt. 280 south to PA 346.  As you approach Quaker Lake which is the only body of water on your left, Rt. 280 makes a sharp turn to the right.  Make the right hand turn to conti nue on Rt. 280 and this road will change to PA 346 at the state line.  The parking lot at Map 1, Access 1 is about 2-3 miles on the left hand side.
    This hike has several short, but steep climbs of 300 feet so please bring plenty of water and good hiking boots.
  • For more information contact Mike Schlicht.


BockHarvey Forest Preserve, Three Preserve Hike:  The FLT (Finger Lakes Trail) will hike on three nature preserves in the Town of Enfield, Tompkins County. The three preserves carry parts of the Finger Lakes Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail and are protected by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the Finger Lakes Land Trust. This event will be offered with options for 3 or 6 miles in length.

  • FLTC Map: M16
  • Meeting time: 10 a.m.
  • Meeting place: Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve, 150 Rockwell Road trailhead, Enfield, NY (click for map).
  • Distance: This event will be offered with options for 3 or 7 miles in length.
    • The 3-mile hike will start at the Rockwell Rd. trailhead and hike the Bock-Harvey Loop, the FLT in the preserve including a visit to the Locust Lean-to, and Riemen Woods. It will return to the start point on a short road walk on Rockwell Rd.
    • The 6-mile hike will Be the same but will proceed upon exiting Riemen Woods on a half mile roadwalk to the Stevenson Preserve including the spur to the Stevenson Vista. It will then return to the start point via Porter Hill Rd and Rockwell Rd.


NCT Black River Canal Towpath: Join the Central NY chapter for a hike right in the middle of the trail north of Rome on the BREIA Trail along the Black River Canal Towpath between Pixley Falls State Park and Booneville. Pack a lunch and something to drink.
Meet at Erwin Park on NY Rt 12 in the Village of Boonville at 10 am, from where we’ll spot cars at the other end and then get started.  For folks coming from further south 9 (or east or west) we’ll be meeting at the Canastota interchange (34) on the NYS Thruway at 9 am and convoy up to Boonville. 

  • Distance: 7 miles on the level and slight downgrade.
  • Meeting place and time: Locals can meet at Erwin Park on NY Rt 12 in the Village of Boonville at 10 a.m., from where we’ll spot cars at the other end and then get started.  For folks coming from further south 9 (or east or west) we’ll be meeting at the Canastota interchange (34) on the NYS Thruway at 9 a.m. and convoy up to Boonville. 
  • Contact: Jack Miller, Jack Miller.


Rock and Long Ponds, Siamese Wilderness Area Adirondack Park: Join the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club  for a 5-7 mile hike. We will explore the NCNST Adirondack Route north of Speculator, NY. The trail passes two typical, picturesque Adirondack lakes with all the ambiance one would expect of a National Scenic Trail. Try out your echo on Long Pond cliffs.
  • Map: ADK Central Guide pp 124-6, Delorme 37
  • Distance: 5-7 miles
  • Meeting time: 8:30 am. Please contact Mary Coffin for meeting place


FLT/NCT Onondaga Trail, Webber Rd to Holmes Rd: Join the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club for a 5.3 mile hike. We will celebrate North Country National Scenic Trail Day by hiking the eastern most end for the Onondaga Trail from Webber Road to Holmes Road and the junction with the CNY NCTA Chapter’s section. There are scenic views from the hill tops and a small stream crossing.
  • FLTC ​Map: O2
  • Distance: 5.3 miles.
  • Meeting Location and Time: 9am from Syracuse area, please contact Mary Niemi
  • Directions to Meeting Location: Contact Mary Niemi. Trail head is south of New Woodstock and Route 80 in Madison County.


Moxham Mountain, Vanderwhacker Wild Forest: Moxham Mountain in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest near Minerva, NY is part of the planned route for the NCNST in the Adirondack Region of New York. To celebrate NCNST Day the Adirondack Mountain Club- Schenectady Chapter will hike this trail to enjoy the wonderful vistas along the ridge. At the present time this is not a thru hike so we will enjoy our lunches prior to returning to our cars. You will need to bring lunch and snacks plus appropriate clothing including rain gear in your pack. We will climb approximately 1000 ft. The hike is 5.4 miles round trip.

  • Meeting time: Further details on the meeting place and time will be posted soon.
  • For more information contact Mary Macdonald.

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, Cazenovia, NY: Join the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park for a hike along the Link Trail. Meet at the Cazenovia Farmers’ Market at 2:15 (Albany Street in the village of Cazenovia) and hike the Link Trail up to the Art Park and back. This will be about a 1.5 hour hike that is fairly uphill with a return hike of around 1 hour that is downhill. Please wear appropriate footwear and bring water. Transportation back to the village will be provided for anyone unable to hike back. This event is weather-dependent. Please check their Facebook page for updates.

  • Location: Link Trail in the Village of Cazenovia to Stone Quarry Hill Art Park (map)
  • Time: Meet at 2:15 PM at the Art Park’s booth at the Cazenovia Farmers’ Market
  • Contact: Emily Zaengle

Marcellus Gas Drilling: What does it mean for the North Country Trail?

Posted by

Imagine an overlay of the North Country trail on the map, and you can visualize how much of the trail is or may be affected by shale gas drilling.

Imagine an overlay of the North Country trail on the map, and you can visualize how much of the trail is or may be affected by shale gas drilling.

Recently, natural gas has been a hot topic of debate, especially in Pennsylvania and New York. The culprit behind the tension is the Marcellus Shale deposit, which lies a mile beneath the earth’s surface and spans over eastern Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. Within the layers of the Marcellus shale are pockets of natural gas. In the past, it was thought that these pockets of gas did not amount to much. Beyond that, the cost of drilling outweighed the potential profit that could be gained from extracting the gas, and thus, the Marcellus Shale was deemed to be economically impractical.

Over the past two years, this notion was turned on its head. In late 2007, scientists estimated that the shale contained massive amounts of natural gas- 80 to 250 times more than the 2002 estimate– with huge economic promise. Furthermore, horizontal drilling technology, combined with hydrofracturing techniques (which were developed in the 1980s but never tried in the Marcellus region), made it far easier and more economically viable to extract natural gas from deep shale deposits.

This diagram shows how drilling horizontally allows access to natural gas embedded within layers of shale.

This diagram shows how drilling horizontally allows access to natural gas embedded within layers of shale.

This combination of resources and means of extraction caused an explosion of interest in Marcellus Shale and a flood of drilling companies into Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2009 looking to strike gold in the Marcellus deposit.

The Good:

A Horizontal Shale Drilling Rig in PA

A Horizontal Shale Drilling Rig in PA

The natural gas drilling in the Appalachian region comes with several benefits. First, the economic interest and potential in the region jumped considerably with the rediscovered interest in the shale. Landowners can benefit by leasing land to drilling companies, and the drilling operations bring jobs and business to the areas they affect.

Furthermore, drilling natural gas in the US decreases our dependency on foreign fuels. It also increases regional independence; the Marcellus shale could conveniently supply Cleveland, Erie, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo without being transported over long distances.

Natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil, which has led some natural gas supporters to label it an “alternative fuel.” Natural gas emits approx. 43% less carbon than oil and 27% less carbon than coal.

The Bad:

Environmentalists and conservationists disagree with the “alternative fuel” moniker, reminding the public that, although gas is better than oil, it is still a fossil fuel producing formidable carbon emissions.

Beyond that, the drilling techniques used to extract the natural gas are stirring up concern in the communities affected by drilling. The hydrofracturing technique involves injecting water mixed with sand and chemicals into the shale at extremely high pressure, thus fracturing the shale and releasing the gas between the layers.

The PA Forest Coalition recently sent out an email newsletter citing many problems surrounding hydrofracturing, many of which focused on the potentially detrimental effects on waterways.

Specifically, the group suggests that extracting millions of gallons of water for hydrofracturing could strain water supplies and alter habitats for fish and wildlife. In addition, the used hydrofracturing water (called “frac water”) is chemically contaminated and high in salt content, and if this water enters into waterways, it can alter ecosystems- hurting some species while creating opportunities for invasive species to move in (specifically those preferring water with higher salinity).

Water used in hydrofracturing, called "frac water," is collected and stored in pits lined with geosynthetic liners. The frac water is supposed to be collected and treated before it returns to the water supply, but many people suspect that chemically contaminated salt water is leeching into waterways.

Water used in hydrofracturing, called "frac water," is collected and stored in lined pits. The frac water is treated before it returns to the water supply, but many people suspect that chemically contaminated salt water leeches into waterways during and after the hydrofracturing process. They cite insufficient quarantining and treatment of the frac water as sources of contamination.

The group claims that contamination could occur during the hydrofracturing process if frac water is allowed to flow back or leach into groundwater/surface water supplies, or it could happen if the collected frac water is not properly handled and treated before discharge. The group cites frac water’s exemption from the Clean Water Act and insufficient oversight as issues of concern.

Some reports emerged of contaminated water supplies, and other reports warn of radioactive contaminants entering water supplies because of hydrofracturing (see also: this article). Still others are concerned about what drilling does to communities, from drilling site activity and seismologic testing to the potential for lands to be seized by imminent domain for gas pipes. In his blog, landscaper Bob Donnan documented his observations of how drilling impacted the small town of Hickory, PA.

The current state of affairs:

In Pennsylvania, the state legislature ordered the DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) to bring in $60 million by offering new natural gas drilling leases within state forestland, which amounts to 32,000 acres in PA state forests. While environmentalists and conservationists fight for more oversight and regulation of drilling techniques and frac water, the drilling companies are expanding and making new drilling sites in New York.

An aerial photo of a drilling operation showing the rig and the frac water pit.

An aerial photo of a drilling operation showing the rig and the frac water pit.

What do you think?

On one hand, extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale means reduced dependency on foreign oil; plus, it is a cleaner burning fossil fuel. Investors, drilling companies, and landowners all stand to increase their wealth tremendously through drilling leases and operations.

On the other hand, many worry about the detrimental effects to the communities, the forests, and the waterways surrounding drilling sites.

The debate about Marcellus shale is about natural resources, temporality, and economics. Which resources should prevail? Is the threat of pollution worth risking the economic opportunity of drilling? If/when the waterways do get polluted, is there any way to reverse the damage? Is there a way to protect forests and waterways while also benefiting from natural gas extraction?

And finally: What does natural gas drilling mean for the North Country National Scenic Trail? Whether you are a chapter member or landowner in PA, New York, and Ohio, a visiting thru-hiker from another state, or someone who cares about the trail in any capacity–What does the Marcellus gas drilling mean to you?

For more information, check out: Info on Marcellus Drilling – very informative, with diagrams – a neutral source of information about natural gas/the drilling process