For long-distance hikers
The North Country Trail Guidebook
Unlike most long-distance hiking trails in the U.S., there is no comprehensive guidebook currently available covering all of the NCT. However; Ron Strickland and the NCTA have developed a “Best of the NCT” guidebook published by the University of Michigan Press. We no longer carry the book in our Trail shop, but the guide is available at a number of retailers. Visit this link to learn where you can find the book.
For more information in the meantime on planning a long-distance hike, feel free to contact us or look at the other resources below.
- NCTA’s hiking maps and additional info here.
- NCTA’s GPS / GIS data for the NCT
- North Country Trail Post Offices – a list of all post offices along the NCT.
- Some of our partner trail organization currently produce their own guidebooks for their trails (e.g. Superior Hiking Trail Association, Kekekabic Trail Club, Border Route Trail Association, Buckeye Trail Association, Finger Lakes Trail Conference) that are available directly from them.
- NCTA’s Chapters & partner organizations are also great sources of information on their trail segments.
- Find out who is willing to be a Trail Angel and the services they offer along the Trail by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
- Challenges of thru-hiking the NCT
- Weather: With a length of 4,600 miles and lots of connecting roadwalks, pulling off a thru-hike of the NCT is a big challenge. One of the biggest challenges is weather encountered on an end to end hike. Assuming you start at a terminus, hike 4,600 miles from one end to the other, and average 20 miles per day your hike will be 200+ days or 6-8 months. That means you’ll have to start / finish your hike in wintry conditions in either the Adirondack Mountains of New York or on the wide open prairies of western North Dakota. Brrrrr!
- Policies and Applications:
The North Country Trail Association and its board provide guidelines for hikers and followers of the North Country National Scenic Trail by which muscle-powered milestones will be recognized. Although the honor system will be used to determine who has completed the trail, certain standards will be put forth so that potential end-to-enders of any kind will know what is expected.
- Please review the NCTA’s Board policy regarding End-to-End hikes. Please note the policy no longer requires an end-to-end hike (or thru-hike) to include walking across the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan (it’s only walkable on Labor Day).
- Official recognition instructions for an End-to-End hike and Longer Trips are available here.
- The Application for an official End-to-End (or thru-hike) is available here.
- The Application for Long-Distance Hike/Trip Recognition is available here (not necessarily the entire trail).
- For more information, visit Joan Young’s unofficial North Country Trail Long Distance Hikers page.
- Sample thru-hike itinerary – Check out our Hike itinerary sample to get an overview of the time needed to hike the Trail.
- Links to long-distance hikers’ online journals – There have been a few people who have thru-hiked the NCT in recent years. Here are links to their websites…
- Luke “Strider” Jordan thru-hiked the NCT eastbound in 2013 (March to October) and published his journal, photos, and videos. Luke also published a book, Thru and Back Again, detailing his hike, which is a great resource for hikers.
- Al Learned also thru-hiked the NCT in 2013 but followed a different itinerary. Al started near Cincinnati and hiked east to Crown Point State Historic Site, then hiked east from Lake Sakakawea back to the Cincinnati area.
- In 2010, Joan Young became the first woman to hike the entire NCT after completing her 20-year section hike (check out her North Country Cache book)
- Nimblewill Nomad completed a 2009 eastbound thru-hike (his Odyssey on the NCT) and published a book
- Bart Smith completed a NCT section hike in 2007
- Andrew Skurka’s 2004-05 “C2C” trek, which included a westbound thru-hike of the NCT
- A journal from Ed Talone’s 1994 westbound thru-hike