“Run the 870 miles of the North Country Trail across Minnesota and cross 3 of the State's 3 biomes.”
— Matthew Davis
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The North Country Trail in Minnesota offers a little bit of everything - from the prairies of the far western part of the state to the rugged Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the cultural attractions in downtown Duluth.
Need to Know
The NCT is Minnesota offers a great run throughout its meandering journey across the state.
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.
History & Background
Lots of the NCT crosses public lands that are managed for forest products and the Mesabi Trail takes the runner through the Mesabi Iron Range.