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North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST)

NCNST through the Adirondack Park

History of the North Country National Scenic Trail

North Country National Scenic Trail emblem

In March 1980, federal legislation authorized the establishment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) as a component of the National Trails System (16 U.S.C. 1241 et seq.). To date, Congress has authorized the establishment of eight National Scenic Trails - long distance, non-motorized trails that follow major geographic features or pass through scenic areas. National Scenic Trails are patterned after the renowned Appalachian NST.

The North Country NST's projected length is approximately 4,600 miles, stretching across the northern tier of the United States with some 2,000 miles completed to date. The legislation that established the North Country NST requires that it be developed and managed through a federal-state-local-private partnership with the National Park Service providing overall administration and coordination.

In November 2007, the Department released the Draft Adirondack Park Trail Plan/Draft GEIS (Plan) for the North Country NST for public comment and review. The Plan describes a proposed route for the North Country NST across the central region of the Adirondack Park. The Plan, once approved, will be integrated into the Unit Management Plans (UMPs) for each Unit traversed by the trail.

The Plan recommends the incorporation of the North Country NST into the State's Adirondack trail system and recommends that this NST be developed and managed in accordance with applicable federal and state laws, policies, and guidelines. The Plan outlines a viable trail route for the North Country NST across the central region of the Park and recommends this Plan be incorporated into affected current and future unit management planning and UMPs.

The Plan recommends following approximately 70 miles of existing foot trail within the Park and recommends approximately 50 miles of new trail construction within the Park. It is estimated that 27 miles of Temporary Connectors will be initially utilized to make connections along this route. Within the Adirondack Park, the North Country NST will be approximately 140 total miles in length when complete, stretching from the Hamlet of Forestport in Oneida County to the Hamlet of Crown Point on Lake Champlain. (The proposed route requires less new construction than other alternatives.) The ultimate goal is a North Country NST route that is completely off-road and non-motorized, but this Plan does suggest temporary road-walking connections for use by long-distance hikers until the off-road route can be completed.

The Plan proposes a route for the North Country NST that intersects nine Units of the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve:

  • Black River Wild Forest
  • West Canada Lake Wilderness
  • Moose River Plains Wild Forest
  • Jessup River Wild Forest
  • Siamese Ponds Wilderness
  • Hudson Gorge Primitive Area
  • Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
  • Hoffman Notch Wilderness
  • Hammond Pond Wild Forest

The Plan is designed to provide guidance for the routing of the North Country NST through the Adirondacks and is designed to be useable and easily incorporated into or attached as Amendments to, already approved UMPs. Incorporation and integration of this Plan into UMPs, and future management of the North Country NST in the Park will be the responsibility of the DEC.

The Plan also recommends that the North Country NST be signed in accordance with the NPS minimum trail signing standards presented in the Handbook. It is anticipated that the trail will be marked with official blue DEC trail discs with the official NCNST trail emblem at all road crossings. The NPS is responsible for providing trail signing outside of federal lands. The NPS signing standards have been developed over the past 25 years in order to establish a "thread of continuity" across the many and varying public and private lands crossed by the trail. The DEC will provide overall trail management within the Forest Preserve and adapt the NPS standards to ensure the wild character of the Forest Preserve is maintained.

The development, maintenance, and use of the North Country NST in the Adirondack Park is subject to legal guidance from: a) Article XIV, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution, b) The Adirondack Park Agency Act, c) The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, d) New York State Environmental Conservation Law, e) The New York State Historic Preservation Act, and f) The National Trails System Act.

In some instances, the proposed Adirondack route of the North Country NST overlaps trails of other use designations. The North Country NST and this Plan have no intention of displacing existing uses, but to temporarily share use of these routes until the North Country NST can be viably routed onto newly established trails. If, at any time, conflict arises between user groups or the resource becomes too heavily impacted, area managers will explore alternative North Country NST locations in the general area to bypass the situation and to improve the quality of all users' experience.

The draft NCNST Plan/GEIS for the Adirondacks was the subject of three public meetings:

  1. DEC Office, 232 Hudson St., Warrensburg.
  2. Town/Village Office Bldg., 13149 State Route 12, Boonville.
  3. DEC Central Office, PA-129A, 625 Broadway, Albany.

At this time, the Department continues to review public comments received during the comment period.

An electronic copy of the draft plan may be downloaded via the links below.

The Plan

A- Entire Plan (PDF) (6.1 MB - a large file and may take a long time to download or even cause some computers to crash)

Plan Parts

B- Cover to Section IV (PDF) (Trail Plan Introduction/Preferred Alternatives: Black River WF thru Moose River Plains WF) (1.1 MB)

C- Section IV Cont'd (PDF) (The Adirondack Trail Plan/Preferred Alternatives: Jessup River WF thru Hammond Pond WF) (1.0 MB)
D- Section V (PDF) (SEQRA) thru Appendices (1.0 MB)


1- Adirondack Park Overview Map (PDF) (142 KB)
2- Overview Map 1 (PDF) (Black River Wild Forest - West Canada Lake Wilderness) (160 KB)
3- Overview Map 2 (PDF) (West Canada Lake Wilderness) (187 KB)
4- Overview Map 3 (PDF) (West Canada Lake Wilderness - Jessup River Wild Forest) (240 KB)
5- Overview Map 4 (PDF) (Jessup River Wild Forest - Siamese Ponds Wilderness) (252 KB)
6- Overview Map 5 (PDF) (Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Hudson Gorge Primitive Area, Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest) (536 KB)
7- Overview Map 6 (PDF) (Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, Hammond Pond Wild Forest) (486 KB)
8- Overview Map 7 (PDF) (Hammond Pond Wild Forest) (531 KB)
9- Overview Map 8 (PDF) (Hammond Pond Wild Forest to Crown Point) (477 KB)