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      Prepping hiking trails for the warm season

      Forty-seven-hundred miles. That's how long the North County Trail is. It's the largest of all of the National Scenic Trails.

      "We know of some people who have walked the whole trail from end-to-end. But those are very few. And most of our users are just casual users," said Jan Lindstrom, member, North Country Trail.

      Since 1982, the North Country Trail has helped hikers walk a path through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

      That's too much trail for one person to look after. That's why they have adopters to take care of each five-mile section.

      "They pick up small branches; that's what we were doing this morning. Lopping any encroaching growth that's coming in too close in the trail," said Lorena Jinkerson, President of North Country Trail Hikers.

      For any major work, the adopters contact N.C.T. to give them a hand.

      If you're a hiker, navigating the trail is easy. Just follow the blue blazes. "The blue blazes are painted on trees or sometimes on rocks, and they are shaped like dollar bills placed vertically," Lindstrom said.

      As of last year, N.C.T. is working on improvements to make finding your way even easier.

      "Destination signs, which are trail info signs put at various junctions along the trail, telling directions and distances to various points, trailheads, points of interest, and so on. That's new, now, and I think our hikers will really appreciate those," Lindstrom said.

      It's also handy to take small amounts of food and water as well as bug repellant during the warm months. But don't forget to bring along items that make exploring outdoors even more fun like binoculars, bird and plant books.

      The trails are open for all seasons but can periodically be closed by private landowners during bear hunting season. The Mackinac bridge, part of the trail, may close at times during construction and inclement weather.