These Beautiful Northern US Trails Are Now Considered A Part Of The National Park System

If you're someone with a passion for the great outdoors and a heart for exploration, there's a good chance you'll find the National Park System in the U.S. impressive. Made up of a dynamic collection of national parks, trails, battlefields, historical sites, national seashores, and monuments too, the National Park System undeniably covers a lot of ground. According to the National Park Service, the destinations that sit under the umbrella of the greater National Park System encompass more than 85 million acres spanning all states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.

Now, there are three more destinations for park enthusiasts to get excited about exploring. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the New England National Scenic Trail, and the North Country National Scenic Trail have all officially been promoted from the National Trails System to part of the National Park System sites. These three additions to the prestigious list raise the number of National Park System units to 428 from the previous 425. That's a number that likely would have pleased National Park Service founder President Woodrow Wilson who initiated these important land protection initiatives back in 1916.

Exciting additions to the National Scenic Trail lineup

The three trails being added to the National Park System site list raises the number in the National Scenic Trails category to six. They proudly join the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Combined, the three additional trails add over 5,500 miles of landscapes for park visitors to explore. A National Park Service press release indicated the change in status wouldn't immediately lead to any structural trail changes but would benefit the routes in terms of overall visitor awareness and use in the years to come.

The trail promotion is particularly exciting news for the staff and volunteers who give their time to maintain the trails, educate visitors, and preserve these important and scenic routes. The press release noted that in 2022, over 150,000 volunteer hours were reported specific to maintaining and preserving the trails. Seeing a bump up in status is a testament to the worthwhile work these volunteers continue to carry out.

If you find yourself wanting to explore these recently promoted routes on your next outdoor adventure, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs through the state of Wisconsin. Spanning around 1,200 miles total, the trail showcases a collection of stunning lakes, hills, river valleys, and ridges to admire along the way. These landforms were left in the wake of the melting Ice Age glacier the trail is named after.

More to explore on the trails

While it may be significantly shorter than the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the New England National Scenic Trail is a route just as rich in natural beauty and options for adventure. The trail runs for 235 miles and extends from the Long Island Sound through the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Mountain summits are waiting to greet you at the end of the trail but there's plenty to admire along the way before you ever reach that point. This trail is adored by trekkers for its collection of forests, streams, hidden away waterfalls, river valleys, and ridges. The farmlands, villages, and panoramic views that are sprinkled throughout make the trail that much more memorable for explorers.

It's fair to say there are big plans in place for the North Country National Scenic Trail. This ever-expanding and work-in-progress trail presently spans no less than eight states including Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin. It's slated to cover a total of 4,600 miles upon completion.

When you decide to tackle this tantalizing and challenging trail, you'll have access to an array of landscapes to enjoy. These range from lakes and rivers to sprawling prairie, hills, cliffs, valleys, and hidden away cascades depending on the state you happen to be trekking through. The charming small towns you can explore along the route as well as the many historical sites make this trail one that feels like stepping back in time.