October 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Today, the National Trails System includes 11 National Scenic Trails, 19 National Historic Trails and more than 1,200 National Recreation Trails. Mark the occasion by visiting one of the many trails that pass through the Midwest.

By Robin Pfeifer
Superior Hiking Trail

Here are just some of the national trails that pass through the Midwest. For more ideas, go to trails50.org/national-trails

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest in the National Trails System, spanning 4,600 miles across seven states from North Dakota to New York. The Superior Hiking Trail comprises 310 miles of it, starting just south of Duluth, Minnesota, and running north to the Canadian border. It's popular to day-hike sections of the trail in the state parks lining Lake Superior's North Shore. The trail runs through a national grassland, 10 national forests, more than 150 federal, state and local public lands, and comes near three of the Great Lakes. It even cuts through the Adirondacks.

Minnesota's Superior Hiking Trail, part of The North Country National Scenic Trail

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail winds across 1,200 miles of Wisconsin, following the edge of an ancient glacier. Many of the trailheads begin in or near urban areas and offer excellent examples of glacial formations, such as kames, kettles, drumlins, moraines and eskers. More than 12,000 years ago, glacial ice helped shape the area into the landscape it is today, leaving behind many remarkable features. The trail is perfect to hike, snowshoe or backpack across.

Devil's Lake State Park in Wisconsin, on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trailretraces the steps of the Corps of Discovery from 1804 to 1806 in their search for a route to the Pacific Ocean. The trail connects 11 states, including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, in addition to many Tribal lands. Venture out on your own or take a guided tour. Learn about the various characteristics and attractions of each region at lewisandclarkcountry.org.

Spirit Mount Historic Prairie in Vermillion, South Dakota, part of The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trial

Pony Express National Historic Trail extends from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Get a taste of history by exploring the trail that men on horseback once rode on to deliver mail across the country. Drive your motorized pony along an auto tour that closely follows the original route. Itineraries are available through the National Park Service.

Pony Express Statue in Marysville, Kansas, along the Pony Express National Historic Trail

The Cannon Valley Trail is a 20-mile-long bike trail that runs along the former Chicago Great Western Railroad line in Southeastern Minnesota's bluffland. It was officially designated as a National Recreation Trail this June. Filled with prairies, scenic overlooks and creeks, this trail is great for a day exploring outside. Local legend has it that around mile six is the site of a major train wreck from 1912. The crash caused rough-cut granite, thought to be used for tombstones, to fall from the train. Over 100 blocks of this granite is scattered between the road and the river.

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