Linking the Appalachian Trail & North Country Trail

Published Aug 14, 2012

Linking two of the longest trails in America is the goal of modern-day Benton MacKayes.

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) would seem like a walk in the park compared to trekking the combined length of the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail -- more than 6,800 miles -- if organizers succeed in linking the two trails in Vermont.

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest in the United States, but relatively unknown. It runs from North Dakota to eastern New York, more than 4,600 miles. Fewer than 50% of its length consists of typical hiking trails. The North Country Trail follows roads and doesn't afford convenient places to pitch a tent for overnight camping.

A campaign by the North Country Trail Association, the National Park Service and the Green Mountain Club in Vermont is underway to combine these two national resources.

As the North Country Trail was being conceived in the 1970s, officials in Vermont expressed concern that linking the North Country Trail to Vermont's 273-mile Long Trail would bring too much strain on the Long Trail, which goes from Canada to Massachusetts. The North Country Trail stops at the bridge between Crown Point and West Addison on Lake Champlain's shores.

Beyond that is 40-miles of plain-old Vermont before you hit the AT, and its 2,181 hike from Maine to Georgia.

The Associated Press quotes North Country Trail Association's Executive Director Bruce Matthews as saying, "This 40-mile gap is a gap in the system. There's no logical reason for it."

Thousands of individuals have thru-hiked the AT, but fewer than a dozen are known to have completed the North Country Trail.

The National Park Service is conducting a feasibility study which could be completed as early as this summer. Even so, it would be years before the distinctive North Country Trail markers blaze the way to the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

We believe it will be accomplished by the dedicated volunteers who have taken this task upon themselves.

One step at a time.

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Published Feb 19, 2015. The North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) Route Adjustment Act would extend the NCNST into Vermont to connect with the Appalachian Trail among others.

One thing wrong with the Appalachian Trail is there's too much to see in one lifetime. Big Creek Country Store in Mount Sterling, NC, is an example.