Rules & regulations

Carsonite post

Carsonite post with allowable trail uses

There are not many rules and regulations found on the North Country Trail that are consistent across the 7-states other than a prohibition on motorized use.  Many restrictions are specific to local land managers’ policies or the wishes of private landowners who host the NCT.  In general, here are some things to keep in mind before hitting the Trail…

Respect Private Property

A significant portion of the NCT crosses privately owned lands with the cooperation and support of hundreds of private landowners.  Many of these segments are only secured through “handshake agreements” that may be revoked by the landowner.  Please do not jeopardize the NCT by disregarding special rules posted along the Trail.  In general:

  1. Stay on the Trail at all times.
  2. Do not damage lands over which the Trail passes.
  3. Obey special signs posted along the Trail, and
  4. Camp only in designated sites where the Trail crosses private lands

Permits, fees, etc.

While no permits or fees are necessary for hiking on the NCT, there are numerous places along the NCT where hikers must obtain special permits, make advance reservations, or pay a camping/parking/entrance fee while using the NCT or related facilities.

Specifically, backcountry permits are required for hiking the NCT within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI and on the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN.

Camping and entrance fees are charged at:

  1. Some National Forest Recreation Areas and Campgrounds
  2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (MI)
  3. North Dakota State Parks
  4. Minnesota State Parks
  5. Wisconsin State Parks and Forests
  6. Michigan State lands
  7. Ohio State Parks (generally park entrance is free, fees apply only for overnight use)
  8. Pennsylvania State Parks (generally park entrance is free, fees apply only for overnight use and certain day use activities)
  9. New York State Parks

Reservations are required / accepted at few overnight sites.  Generally speaking, overnight sites are first come, first served.

Hiking with pets

Dogs are not permitted on some parts of the Trail, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and numerous State Parks. Should you decide that your dog will accompany you on your next hike, be sure to keep him/her under your control at all times – preferably on a leash no more than 8’ long.  Keep your dog out of water sources and be sure to clean up after them.  Pack animals and horses are currently permitted on the North Country Trail in parts of North Dakota only.

Leave No TracePractice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics

The NCTA encourages you to follow the seven Leave No Trace principles for minimizing your impacts while using the NCT.  LNT also has an extensive collection of online resources.