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North Country National Scenic Trail - Wisconsin

North Country National Scenic Trail - Wisconsin
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General Information

Description - Threading its way across our landscape, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) links outstanding scenic, natural, recreational, historic, and cultural areas in seven of the northern tier states - New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The eastern end of the trail is at New York's Crown Point State Historic Site on the shore of Lake Champlain. The western end is at Lake Sakakawea State Park in west central North Dakota where it joins the route of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

Wisconsin, containing the shortest distance of the seven states, leaves Ironwood, Michigan at the US 2 Bridge near Peterson Falls entering Wisconsin in the former lumbering town of Hurley. The certified trail picks up several miles west of town extending a mere 7 miles in Iron County Forest. The next segment of certified trail starts several miles west in Copper Falls State Park where it probes 8 miles through quiet forestlands stunted with picturesque falls. This developed state park offers several overnight options including reservable backpack sites. The next usable segment of trail is located a short distance away in the Chequamegon National Forest. A new segment, sponsored by citizens in Mellen, is a certified portion connecting the two. Within the Chequamegon National Forest, 60 miles of trail begin along FR 390 near Mellen providing trail enjoyment for hikers, backpackers, and equestrians. In winter, cross-country skiers and snowshoers have access. Overnight accommodations in the Forest range from trailside backpack sites to Adirondack shelters to developed campgrounds. Several road crossings within the Forest provide additional access points. The Wisconsin segment of the NCT ends at the Forest boundary on County Highway A near Lake Ruth. Future development of the trail is underway near Solon Springs with plans for continuation northbound through Pattison Falls State Park and into Minnesota.

Attractions - 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.

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 Wisconsin (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 require payment of a fee and / or obtaining a permit.

Climate - Northeast Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. Great Lakes Michigan and Superior tend to make summers cooler and winters milder close to shore. January's average temperature is in the teens F (-teens C). Average July temperature is 68-70 degrees F (20 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) for a several day stretch. The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 30-32". Annual snowfalls in the Northeast Region have a wide range; the southern areas may receive 50" while the northern areas may receive in excess of 180". Nighttime summer temperatures can dip below freezing. Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.

Location - The North Country Trail is a National Scenic Trail which when completed will extend across seven states from New York to North Dakota.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Rudy Senarighi (Sturgeon Bay, WI)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Toughest part is the up and down through the Penokes and Marengo River Valley, but the views are worth it. We have walked it east to west and west to east between Drummond and Mellen. I much prefer the west to east route. First night stop at Porcupine Lake. Get an early start and spend the next night at the clearing at Twenty-Nine Mile Creek. You will have to cross two very flooded areas along the trail that the beavers have dammed up between Porcupine lake and East davis Lake. You need to swing wide and south through the woods, but you can bushwack around them. Take the next day easy, enjoy the overlooks and have lunch at the half shelter at the Marengo River. Explore the Swedish Settlement and camp that evening at bBeaver lake or on the Marengo. We were out for five days and did not meet another person on the trail.

More Information

Additional Information:
Wisconsin - This state borders two of the Great Lakes: Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, and consequently supports a myriad of water-oriented recreation pursuits.
Wisconsin National Forests and Parks - National forests and parks administered within the State of Wisconsin vary from expansive wilderness areas and national scenic rivers, to recreation trails and a breathtaking archipelago.
Wisconsin State Trails -

National Park Service - Official agency website.
North Country National Scenic Trail - Official agency website
North Country Trail Association - Non-Profit Site


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