Call it North Country, the backbone of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail
A work crew revamps a viewing platform at Laughing Whitefish Falls State Scenic Site in Alger County, a site along the North Country National Scenic Trail/Iron Belle Trail. (Michigan DNR photo)
By Dakota Hewlett
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
MARQUETTE — The North Country National Scenic Trail, or North Country Trail for short, is the longest trail in the National Trail System, stretching more than 4,600 miles between North Dakota and New York.
In Michigan, the trail covers 1,150 miles and connects some of our most scenic and beloved destinations, including Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, along with many small towns and communities whose residents embrace the trail and welcome those who hike it.
The website for the trail beckons visitors to “Come to the North Country.”
“Trek the hills and valleys. Stand on the shores of lakes and streams from glaciers 10,000 years before. Clear-flowing water, red/gold of autumn, a fairyland of snow, open prairies and distant horizons paint the land,” the website reads. “Historic sites along the way tell how America settled and grew as a nation. From North Dakota to New York (and soon Vermont), adventure is never far away.”
Spawned from the National Trails System Act of 1968, the North Country Trail has grown from a grand idea to a destination for hikers and backpackers looking to experience some of the best small towns and scenic places in the United States.
As a National Scenic Trail, the trail is administered by the National Park Service with assistance from the North Country Trail Association, a nonprofit organization comprised of thousands of members and volunteers who work on building, maintaining, planning and promoting the trail.