North Country Trail
Most everyone has heard of the Appalachian Trail which is probably the most widely recognized hiking trail in the Nation. What most North Dakotans may not know, however, is that we have a national trail right here in North Dakota: the North Country National Scenic Trail.
I recently saw a copy of the National Park Service brochure on the North Country Trail. Although the trail is far from completion, the trail will eventually run over four thousand miles, connecting Crown Point in Adirondack Park, New York, to Lake Sakakawea.
For much of its route in North Dakota the North Country Trail parallels the Sheyenne River. The entire trail has not been completed here in North Dakota, but according to the brochure, the trail has been established and marked through Lonetree Wildlife Management Area south of Harvey to near Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. There are 32 miles of trial just within Lonetree. Shorter sections have also been completed along the western shore of Lake Ashtabula, as well as a 28 mile stretch that passes through the Sheyenne National Grasslands. No doubt other segments have been completed since the printing of the brochure.
The trail crosses some interesting areas of our state, allowing the user to observe native tallgrass and mixed grass prairie, the sandhills (the Sheyenne River delta from when it flowed into glacial Lake Agassiz), some interesting forested areas, prairie wetlands, and of course some riparian forests. North Dakota’s only registered waterfall is also near the trail in the Sheyenne State Forest.
A person could spend several days hiking The North Country trail, taking advantage of the occasional sources of water and backcountry campsites. But you do not have to be a long distance hiker to enjoy the trail. It is easily accessible and can be enjoyed at various places for a short hike or nature walk. Some segments are even open to horse traffic.
Consider enjoying a little natural North Dakota along the North Country Trail this summer. For more information on the trail, check out the North Country Trail’s website at northcountrytrail.org.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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