North Country Trail Association


Minnesota hosts more than 850 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Watch waterfowl in the wetlands and wander through old growth forest. Step back in time as you encounter evidence of life before the first settlers, historic mining and logging operations, and work performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Traverse agricultural valleys, hike across rugged rocks, wind around countless glacial lakes, and keep your eyes open for iconic Northwoods wildlife such as loons and bald eagles, moose and lynx.

The trail crosses a variety of notable land units and features in Minnesota, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Chippewa and Superior National Forests, Greenwater Lake Scientific and Natural Area, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, and multiple state parks. The trail also shares its corridor with the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail, as well as the Kekekabic Trail, Border Route Trail, and Mesabi Trail.

Minnesota’s North Country Trail is maintained primarily by the volunteers of seven NCTA Chapters and two Affiliate organizations:

The state also hosts three official NCTA Trail Towns: Fergus Falls, Frazee, and Walker.

Additional Information

  • A permit is required for vehicular entrance into Minnesota State Parks.
  • Permits for hiking the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails may be obtained from the Superior National Forest office in Ely.
    • These wilderness trails should be attempted only by experienced backpackers or wilderness travelers. Backcountry experience and navigation skills are necessary. Wilderness permits are required year-round and the trails are very remote. Dispersed camping is allowed but designated campsites exist.
  • Dispersed camping is generally allowed except within state parks, Greenwater Lake Scientific and Natural Area, and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, but designated backcountry campsites are provided along much of the trail route.
  • Top NCNST Hikes in Minnesota
  • Winter Use of the NCNST in Minnesota

Header photo by Melanie McManus