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SHT Is Now Truly a National Scenic Trail

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SHT Is Now Truly a National Scenic Trail

March 20, 2019

Despite its prominence as one of the finest hiking and running destinations in the country, it’s only once in a blue-blazed moon that the US Congress discusses our rugged footpath in the chambers of our nation’s capital. But thanks in large part to the sustained efforts of our friends at the North Country Trail Association (NCTA), Congress recently passed legislation and the President signed into law an act to officially designate the Superior Hiking Trail as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail’s (NCNST) route in Minnesota.

In addition to the SHT, the Border Route Trail (which begins near the SHT’s northern terminus), Kekekabic Trail, and a yet-to-be-built corridor between Grand Rapids and Ely were included in the “Arrowhead Reroute” authorization, part of the Omnibus Public Lands bill — the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act.

The Arrowhead Reroute is a big improvement over the original proposed route of the NCNST through Minnesota. Map courtesy of NCTA.

Simply put, SHTA is very pleased and impressed with NCTA’s persistence to finally “make it official” that the SHT is, for sure and for real, a part of the NCNST. The “National Scenic Trail” designation speaks volumes, recognizing both the stunning, unique natural features found along our Trail’s corridor and the decades of hard work by SHTA volunteers, financial supporters, staff, partner agencies, landowners, and friends who make this Trail possible. SHTA is also excited to partner more closely with NCTA to address some of the Trail’s biggest problem areas and highlight the incredible hiking, backpacking, and trail running opportunities in Northern Minnesota. As SHTA’s trail development director Jo Swanson put it, “Two thumbs up, NCTA!”

In case you’re wondering how this will affect the SHT or the business of the Association, the simple answer is, “Not much.” SHTA is still fully responsible for managing our glorious 300+ miles of trail from the Minnesota-Wisconsin state line to Canada. We’ll be recognized as an official partner of the NCTA and we’ll continue to work with their talented team whenever it makes sense to do so.

NCTA’s Matt Davis and Bill Menke were among the expert trail evaluators hired by SHTA in fall of 2018 to assess the “Big Bad Five” problem areas on the Trail. Photo by Valerie Bader.

In the run-up to National Trails Day and SHTA’s Hike Fest event, we plan to gather together with our NCTA friends to celebrate this legislative accomplishment with the many partners who make our Trail possible. Stay tuned for more details.