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North Country Trail (NCT): Minnesota

Intermediate
 4.0 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Hike the 870 miles of the North Country Trail across Minnesota and cross 3 of the State's 3 biomes.


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Map Key

868.1

Miles

1,397.1

KM

Point to Point

2,051' 625 m

High

602' 184 m

Low

71,045' 21,655 m

Up

69,866' 21,295 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

13%

Max Grade (7°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Parts are easier in terms of topography and loops are available.

For the most part, the NCT is open except for the deer rifle hunting season. Learn more atdnr.state.mn.us/hunting.

Overview

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.

Hike Sections

Need to Know

Description

The NCT is Minnesota offers a great hike 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 hiker through the Mesabi Iron Range.

Shared By:

Matthew Davis

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  4.0 from 2 votes

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Photos

Cascade Falls.
May 27, 2015 near Grand M…, MN
Cliffs south of Gunflint Lake, taken from the Border Route Trail.
Jun 19, 2018 near Grand M…, MN
Canoes in Mountain Lake, from an overlook on the Border Route Trail.
Jun 19, 2018 near Grand M…, MN
Near Mt Trudee, Lake Superior Hiking Trail.
Jun 1, 2016 near Silver Bay, MN
Lakewalk
May 27, 2015 near Grand M…, MN
Sonju Lake
May 27, 2015 near Silver Bay, MN

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