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New Trailhead for the North Country Hiking Trail

February 06, 2018
The North Country Trail Association Laurentian Lakes Chapter in coordination with Itasca State Park and Minnesota Department of Transportation has opened a new trailhead on the south side of Itasca State Park. It is located on MN Hwy 113 5.2 miles west of US Hwy 71 or 8.3 miles east of Becker Co 37. A .9 mile spur trail leads north from the parking area across an old field planted in pine trees to intersect with the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT for short). The parking area is on State Park property and requires a daily or annual Park pass, or Minnesota State Parks and Trails specialty license plate. The new trailhead is plowed in the winter and thus provides year round non-motorized access to the southwestern area of the Park.

Hiking east on the NCT, it is 6.1 miles to the South Park entrance trailhead. There are 2 campsites along this section that require reservations, which can be done online by going through the DNR website. This moderately hilly trail passes by several lakes, wetlands and a variety of old growth trees. You can access the Park Nicollet, DeSoto, Deer Park, and Ozawindib trails from the NCT. The Eagle Scout trail and the NCT run together.

Hiking west on the NCT, it is 4.4 miles to the Anchor Matson Forest Road trailhead. This trail is fairly level, passes by several unnamed lakes and wetlands and through an old growth hardwood forest near the west Park boundary. At the very western end it follows an old narrow gauge railroad grade used to harvest the virgin forest in about 1915.

The NCT is the longest hiking trail in the US spanning more than 4600 miles. Designed as a premier hiking trail similar to the Appalachian Trail, it links scenic, natural, recreation, historic, and cultural areas through NY, PA, OH, MI, WI, MN, and ND. The National Park Service administers the NCT in cooperation with all levels of government, the North Country Trail Association, and private interests.

The North Country Trail Association is a membership-driven, non-profit organization committed to developing, maintaining, protecting and promoting the NCT through a national network of volunteers, chapters, partner organizations and government agencies.
Hiking the NCT is a great, healthy activity for the young and old and is suitable for families.

Learn more about the NCT in Minnesota at www.northcountrytrail.org/Minn or facebook.com/NCTinMN. Contact the Laurentian Lakes Chapter at llc@northcountrytrail.org.  
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