Description - From its point of entry near Ironwood, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) soon enters Ottawa National Forest and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Rivers, waterfalls, forested hills and ridges characterize the trail. Laughing Whitefish Falls and Rock River Falls and Canyon provide outstanding scenery as the trail continues eastward to Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The 40-mile Lakeshore Trail along the rock bluffs and sandy shore of Lake Superior provides outstanding vistas as well as primitive camping and hiking experiences. The trail continues eastward along the lake to Muskallonge State Park before turning south to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River and many smaller falls await the hiker. South of the park, the trail passes through Hiawatha National Forest on its way to Father Marquette National Memorial at the Straits of Mackinac. Trail users will find a side trip to Mackinac Island enjoyable.
Copyright: Patty Elton - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
White-tailed Deer are commonly called Virginia Deer
Use of a shuttle is necessary to cross the spectacular 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge except on Labor Day morning during the annual "Bridge Walk." The log stockades of Fort Michilimackinac stand guard at the tip of the Lower Peninsula as a living history display of French and British history in the region. From the fort, the trail heads down the western side of the peninsula passing through Wilderness State Park, state forest lands, and the scenic Jordan River Valley. Continuing southward, the trail follows the Shore-to-Shore Riding-Hiking Trail for 24 miles before entering Manistee National Forest. The sandy floor of the Manistee provides easy walking southward toward Grand Rapids. From there, the trail heads southeast toward Ohio, passing through primarily agricultural lands as well as a variety of state and local recreation areas and greenways.
- Through the combined efforts of the National Park Service and many other public agencies and private organizations including individual landowners, the NCT will become the longest continuous trail in the United States. Although it will take many years to complete, the trail users are already enjoying approximately 1,700 miles.
Primarily a foot trail, segments are open to biking and horseback riding. Facilities for backpacking vary greatly. Some managing authorities permit camping anywhere along the trail while others permit camping only at designated sites. Overnight users are urged to plan their trip in advance to assure themselves proper accommodations. For example, a free permit must be obtained to camp at backcountry campsites in the segment within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Various types of interpretive facilities including visitor centers, museums, exhibits, and signs are located at scenic and historic sites along the trail.
A state fishing license is required in Michigan (and in all states) for fishing in lakes and streams along the trail.
Many public and private lands through which the NCT passes are legally open to hunting during the proper seasons. Some segments of the trail may be closed to use during some hunting seasons by the managing authorities responsible for those segments. Trail users should check in advance with the managing authority regarding use of specific trail segments during hunting seasons. Trail users are encouraged to wear blaze orange during hunting seasons.
Recreation - All segments of the NCT are open to travel by foot for walking, hiking, and backpacking. Other non-motorized uses, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and jogging, are generally permitted. On limited segments, bicycling and horseback riding is allowed if the trail has been specifically designed to withstand such use. The uses of some segments of the NCT and overnight facilities requires payment of a fee and / or obtainiing a permit.
Climate - This state normally experiences mild summers with average temperatures near 70 to 80 degrees F. Nights can be cool in the northern reaches of the state with lows dipping near 50 degrees F. August and September are the wettest months on average. Fall temperatures begin to cool in mid September, which brings a spectacular fall foliage color change. Days are crisp and nights chilly during this time of year. Winters can be brutal in Michigan with lake-effect snows bringing 200 inches of snow to some areas in the Upper Peninsula. Spring reaches the southern regions of the state in late March and a few weeks later in the north. This time of year is also very wet with snow melt and spring rains.
The North Country Trail is a National Scenic Trail which when completed will extend across seven states from New York to North Dakota.