North Country Trail Handbook

Trail Core Competencies
  • • Construction Specifications
  • • Corridor Clearing
  • • Hand-Built Trail Construction
  • • Mechanized Trail Construction
  • • Trail Finishwork
  • • Water Management/Drainage Features
  • • Water Crossing Structures
  • • Retaining Walls
  • • Tread Hardening
  • • Trailside Structures / Dispersed Recreation
  • • Maintenance Specifications
  • • Corridor Clearing: Power tools
  • • Corridor clearing: Hand Tools
  • • Tread Maintenance - Hand tools
  • • Tread Maintenance - Mechanized Equipment
  • • Drainage Features/Water Management

The North Country National Scenic Trail (NST) extends for thousands of miles across seven states. Its layout, design, construction, and maintenance require the participation of a myriad of individuals and groups.


The purpose of this handbook is to lay a foundation upon which the North Country NST may achieve a degree of consistency from one segment to another. Understandably, those involved in the project often arrive with different levels of trail experience, or with different expectations for the final product. New volunteers commonly ask for trail standards to guide their work, and in the past they were given verbal instructions or directed to existing trail construction and maintenance handbooks prepared by other trail agencies and groups, which often varied in their consistency. This handbook provides a consistent set of standards and considerations that meet National Park Service (NPS) standards for incorporation into the NCNST, which should enable individuals at all levels of knowledge and experience to successfully build an eligible segment of the trail.

Trail Types Covered

    General. All trail types are relevant.

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