Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
By using both the Long X
and the Maah Daah Hey
an aesthetically appealing loop is created. The Long X
is seldom used and offers abundant solitude with great views and winding trail through different ecosystems. The Maah Daah Hey
is well marked and well traveled making for smooth and fast running.
One drawback is the cattle on the Long X
trail, which also causes there to be several different trails that can make trail identification difficult.
Need to Know
There are three trail junctions: The first is directly after starting out on the trail. The Long X
heads to the right; the second is where the Long X
meets the Maah Daah Hey
; the third is where the Maah Daah Hey
meets the Summit Trail.
Bring water, especially in the warm months. Watch out for rattlesnakes. Additionally, the trails can be extremely slippery if wet and difficult to follow due to cattle trails and a lack of markers on the Long X
portion of the trail.
Start at the parking lot at the end of the CCC Campground. Go through the gate and at the first trail junction, head to the right to follow the Long X
trail. The trail winds down towards a creek crossing before heading up and back towards the Little Missouri River. Pass through a stand of trees before beginning a steady climb towards the plateau. The trail passes up a narrow valley in the badlands formations before heading up several switchbacks.
Once on top, pass through a gate and try to follow the trail generally to the south. A few gates in barbed wire fences will be crossed and the trail is often part of the ranch two track road, but can be done like a singletrack. The herd of cattle may be in the way, and will need to be skirted around. Cross open prairie and a few treed sections before coming to the junction with the Maah Daah Hey
at another fence crossing.
Follow the turtle Maah Daah Hey
sign posts, with the trail on the slanted side of the marker. Go through another gate and head down a steep, switchbacking trail over some badlands formations before reaching the junction with the Summit Trail.
Again, follow the Maah Daah Hey
trail past a water trough and downhill through trees and open areas. Cross another stream and climb the other side passing along the edge of a hill before coming to s bridge across a small seasonal stream.
Head up and wind along, following the turtle signs until you reach a minor junction. This junction is just an alternate trail into the campground. Head left and back towards the gate and the starting point.
Flora & Fauna
Turkey, deer, coyote, birds, wildflowers, cottonwoods, aspen, willow, prairie.
History & Background
The Long X
trail is named after the former cattle herding trail that runs through the area. The Maah Daah Hey
is a 96-mile trail through the heart of the North Dakota Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.