Trail Run Project Logo

Achenbach Trail



15.1 mile 24.3 kilometer point to point
91% Runnable


Ascent: 1,697' 517 m
Descent: -2,097' -639 m
High: 2,594' 791 m
Low: 1,958' 597 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 41% (22°)


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by ktboundary Thompson

The longest, most scenic, and secluded trail in the Park.

ktboundary Thompson

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Standard National Park rules apply.

Runner Notes

Bring lots of water, especially in the warm months. There is one spring, but isn't reliable. Bison are abundant and dangerous. Watch out for rattlesnakes. There are two stream crossings, be sure of the water depth by asking at the ranger station. The trails can be extremely slippery if wet and very difficult to follow due to animal trails and markers buried in the sagebrush/foliage. If not doing a loop, two vehicles are required.


The starting and ending points are optional and you may start at one of three spots: The campground, the Caprock Coulee trailhead or the parking lot at the River Bend Overlook parking lot. A short section of the Caprock Coulee trail must be taken to get to the start of the trail.

To start from the Caprock Coulee trailhead, go across the Scenic Road to access the Caprock Coulee trail until reaching the junction with the Achenbach trail itself. This will be a left turn at a marked junction with a steep, switchbacked downhill.

From here you run along the valley bottom and follow the river with spectacular views of the badlands formations and stands of cottonwood trees. The trail can be hard to follow because the markers are shorter than the sagebrush, so keep and eye out and try to stay on the trail and not the game trails. Enjoy the views of the badlands. Eventually, you come to the oxbow bend in the Little Missouri and the trail heads uphill to the parking lot at the at end of the Scenic Drive.

The trail then heads west along the edge of the plateau heading out to Sperati Point. The trail breaks left from the one heading out to Sperati Point and goes downhill winding through the badlands towards the river valley below. Again, the trail is difficult to follow as you make your way to the river.

Cross the river and head south until the trail is found on the far side. This is the most difficult trail finding section and may or may not be marked well. The trail climbs out of the valley and reaches the plateau again. The Achenbach Spring will be to the left and will be marked on the trail. This spring may or may not have water, inquire with the park rangers. Continue following the trail through hard to read sections. The trail climbs up and down many small valleys before finally descending to the Little Missouri.

The trail heads to the east on the south side of the river and into the willows which make seeing through to the campground difficult. Once near the river, you should be able to make out the trail on the far side and can cross the river and head through the campground end of the trail.

Flora & Fauna

Bison, deer, coyote, birds, wildflowers, cottonwoods, aspen, willow, prairie.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Land Manager: NPS - Theodore Roosevelt

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In



Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 3 votes


in North Unit


  4.0 from 3 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in North Unit


in North Dakota


14 Views Last Month
2,197 Since Apr 23, 2015



Oxbow Overlook, North Unit, Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Apr 23, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Oxbow Overlook, North Unit, Theodore Roosevelt NP
Apr 23, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Looking uphill at the descent through the badlands.
May 25, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Looking to the southeast at the Little Missouri
Apr 21, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Looking southwest to the Little Missouri and the direction of travel.
Apr 21, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Along the trail to Sperati Point, enjoy beautiful grassy meadows and a big, big sky.
Jun 29, 2017 near Watford…, ND


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running