North Country Trail (NCT): Minnesota
ElevationAscent: 71,045' 21,655 m
Descent: -69,866' -21,295 m
High: 2,051' 625 m
Low: 602' 184 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 13% (7°)
Popular runs nearby
Lakes Nelson & Twentyone Loops
2.6 mi 4.2 km • Loop • 337 ft Ascent 102.81 m Ascent
The Big Bog
2.4 mi 3.8 km • Out and Back • 79 ft Ascent 23.98 m Ascent
Red Cliff Ice Caves Tour - Winter Only
1.8 mi 2.9 km • Point to Point • 33 ft Ascent 9.96 m Ascent
Porcupine Mountains Traverse
26.5 mi 42.6 km • Loop • 2,595 ft Ascent 790.9 m Ascent
3.4 mi 5.5 km • Out and Back • 519 ft Ascent 158.04 m Ascent
6.7 mi 10.7 km • Out and Back • 690 ft Ascent 210.25 m Ascent
“Run the 870 miles of the North Country Trail across Minnesota and cross 3 of the State's 3 biomes.”— Matthew Davis
Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Need to Know
The far western portion of the NCT crosses the Red River Valley on roadwalk. Here you can see industrial scale agriculture and catch glimpses of the Valley before it was converted from tallgrass prairie to farmland. There are sections of off-road trail in Fergus Falls and Maplewood State Park.
A long contiguous segment starts at Hwy 34 east of Detroit Lakes and extends through Itasca State Park and the Chippewa National Forest before reaching Hwy 6 near Remer. From there, it's a roadwalk into Grand Rapids where the NCT temporarily follows the Mesabi Trail - a paved multi-use trail through the heart of the Iron Range.
A roadwalk takes the NCT from the end of the Mesabi Trail up to Ely and then onto the Kekekabic Trail which crosses the heart of the BWCAW. Next, the Border Route Trail crosses the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) with great views of Canada and then finally the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) takes the NCT down the North Shore to the Wisconsin border near Jay Cooke State Park.