The Itasca Moraine Chapter of the North Country Trail Association has scheduled two ‘shoulder season’ hike in conjunction with local celebrations. The ‘shoulder season’ borrowed from the New York Times refers to the period after the summer people have left but before the ice fishermen, snowmobilers and eelpouters return.

The first hike immediately follows the Ethnic Fest in Walker. The Itasca Moraine Chapter has a booth for the Ethnic Fest Saturday, Sept. 13 in Walker. Plan to stop by to learn about the North Country Trail, Walker as a NCT Trail Town and gain information about the Ethnic Fest Hike. The hike is set for Sunday, Sept. 14. Hikers are to meet at 2 p.m. at the Shingobee Recreation Area parking lot on Highway 34, 3.5 miles southwest of Walker. The hike will take the spur trail from the parking lot kiosk to the North County Trail, the NCT to the Heartland Bicycle Trail and the Heartland Trail to Walker, a hike of 4 miles. The hikers will have refreshments in Walker following the hike.

The second hike is scheduled for the Fall Has It All Celebration and the 10th annual Hackensack Chainsaw Event the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 27. The chapter plans a booth for the Chainsaw Event, stop by to learn about the hike and the North Country Trail. The hike is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27. Hikers are to meet at 9 a.m. at the Lake Erin Picnic Area, 2.7 miles south of the “Y” on Highway 371. The hike proceeds on the NCT to the Warming Shack. The Warming Shack is located in the midst of several trails 7 miles north of Hackensack on the Paul Bunyan Bicycle/Snowmobile Trail. Very close by are the NCT, the Paul Bunyan Connector Trail to the Heartland Trail, the Shingobee Connector Bicycle Trail to Walker and Snowmobile Trail 93 to Longville. Join the hike to see this ‘trail central’ area. From the Warming Shack the hike will follow the Paul Bunyan Bicycle Trail south along the farm garden to a trail head where rides are provided back to the Lake Erin parking lot. The hike will be just over 2 miles.

As a chapter of the North Country Trail Association, the Itasca Moraine Chapter is interested in offering hiking as an alternative activity for the Northwoods. Chapter members are passionate about promoting physical fitness and wellness activities for the youth and adults of the area.