Notable Segments of the North Country Trail

Looking for a good hike? The North Country Trail has plenty

I have recently inked a deal to write my second book, which will cover 50 different segments of the North Country Trail. To celebrate, I thought I’d share some notable sections of this 4600 mile long trail. 

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My dad and I hiking Trapp Hills

In the same class of trails as the Appalachian, the North Country National Scenic is over twice as long as its older cousin. However, few Michigander’s have heard of this trail let alone walked any part of it.  Here are some notable segments worth noting. .

 The longest & wildest section of trail that crosses the fewest paved roads runs from Copper peak (near Ironwood) to Sidnaw. This segment is about 110 miles long and is a true wilderness experience.  Traversing through the Ottawa National Forest, experience hills, waterfalls, and deep forests during this wild hike. 

Although the trail passes through some federally designated wilderness areas, I believe the wildest segment can be found on this stretch in the Trapp Hills. Deep in the hilly forests of Ontonagon County, encounter high peaks, gorgeous views, low swamps, rivers, and hardwood forests. These features will allow for a scenic, but strenuous hike.  Make a day trip starting at M-64 and end on Forest Road 222.  Make sure to pack a lunch and enjoy your siesta gazing over the treetops. This is bear country so take the usual precautions, since you are more likely to see these furry creatures than another human. 

The closest segment? You probably have walked on it without even knowing it.  If you have stepped foot on the Linear Park, you’ve walked a certified segment of the trail.  Next time you are eating a meal at Clara’s, stare out the window and wonder if the hiker in view is on their way to Crown Point, NY or Lake Sakakawea, ND, the eastern and western ends of this longest National Scenic Trail.  


Backpackers on the North Country Trail

The most used segment hosts well over 10,000 backpackers a year. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has a very popular 42 mile long stretch that parallels Lake Superior. Although it is a high quality experience, best to hike before Memorial Day or after Labor Day to avoid the crowds

 The trail is not designed to isolate the user from surrounding land uses.  As it does in Battle Creek, the trail penetrates downtown areas in other cities, too. From small towns like Petoskey to metropolises like Cincinnati & Duluth,  the trail shares sidewalks, old railroad grades, and bike trails winding its way through many urban centers 

A segment worth mentioning is the stretch in Minnesota that parallels Lake Superior. The trail is within eyeshot of Lake Superior most of its 300 mile stretch but only comes into contact with Lake Superior one time. The name of this segment? Superior Hiking Trail! 

Finally, there is a segment of this National Scenic Trails that is only open for one day a year, and a very short time at that.  Walk the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day and claim you’ve walked the least accessible segment of this trail. 

For more information:

Tom Funke is the author of 50 Hikes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His next book, “50 Hikes on the North Country Trail in Michigan and Wisconsin” will be out in the summer of 2015.







I am my own boss

Well, I finally did it. 

I stepped down from my full time job to pursue my writing & outfitting businesses full time.

Such a decision was not taken lightly, and, was years in the making. 

I have leveraged a career and income opportunity using my 50 Hikes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula book (you do have a copy, right?). It all started with the Tahqua Trekker at Tahquameon. My wife and I, while at Tahquamenion, had a couple of people bum rides off of us. Upon calling the park manager, we found out there was no shuttle service. That was in 2007. 

In 2010, we started the Pictured Rocks Shuttle Service. We also contracted with another vendor to run shuttles on the Kal-Haven Trail. The Kal-Haven Trail shuttle shut down temporarilly as we were competing directly against the county bus, which was charging $3 a ride. They have stepped aside and we will be resuming shuttles shortly. 

At Pictured Rocks, we still compete directly against the county transit system, although, we clearly offer a better service with more routes, flexibility, and knowledge of the trail. Hopefully, they will step aside like they did on the Kal-Haven but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

In 2014, we opened Fort Custer Outfitters, operating as the state park concession at Fort Custer Recreation Area. We offer rentals and food service, but will be moving into programs, tours, trips, retail, and gear rental. 

So, you can probably see why I cannot work a full time job!