The 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail, which spans the upper tier of American states from New York’s eastern border to North Dakota, is the nation’s longest trail and one of its least traveled. The AP claims only 12 people have hiked it end-to-end, probably because about half of it runs alongside roads and long sections of it don’t have camping or other facilities needed by hikers.
That lack of traffic could change. Several groups are working with Vermont officials, to extend the trail through that state, where it would hook up with the busy Appalachian Trail, which runs 2,170 miles from Maine to Georgia.
Right now, the two trails are separated by just 40 miles of “Vermont fields and mountains,” a paltry distance in the scope of things. According to the AP, Vermont officials initially resisted connection the two trails out of concern that the state’s Long Trail (which is congruent with the Appalachian Trail as it runs through the state) would be overrun with hikers. Now those concerns are taking backseat to the desire to link the nation’s long trails.
The change isn’t likely to come quickly. But the North Country Trail Association, the National Park Service, Vermont’s Green Mountain Club and other groups are on board. “The National Park Service is doing a feasibility study, which must be completed before the plan can be presented to Congress.” Bruce Matthews, executive director of the NCTA, is “hopeful the Park Service approval can be finished this summer.”
Photo of Wren Falls, on the North Country Trail in Iron County, WI, by MDuchek via Wikimedia Commons.