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Maah Daah Hey

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

99.2 mile 159.6 kilometer point to point
96% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 8,302' 2,530 m
Descent: -8,595' -2,620 m
High: 2,701' 823 m
Low: 1,983' 604 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)

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Map Key

96 miles of North Dakota singletrack through badlands and prairies

Karen Ryberg

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

There are a handful of water crossings, mostly across smaller creeks throughout the Maah Daah Hey route. There are two crossings of the Little Missouri River, Sully Crossing and Elkhorn Crossing.

The trail crosses a mix of Federal, State, and private land. Camping is prohibited on private and State land and users must stay on the trail in these areas. Any gates opened must be closed. Artifacts and other cultural features are protected by Federal Law. Pack out all trash and other materials.

Description

This trail is a singletrack that is approximately 96 miles long (mileage may vary as maintenance reroutes sections of the trail). The trail traverses the most picturesque part of western North Dakota, sweeping through rolling buttes and grasslands in the crumpled landscapes of the Badlands

The Maah Daah Hey is a shared-use trail, enjoyed by those on foot, equestrians, and mountain bikers, and is one of the jewels of North Dakota open space. As it follows the Little Missouri the trail blends difficult climbs on the bentonite buttes, with challenging downhills, and grasslands stretches where one is on top of the buttes and viewing the rugged lands below. Beautiful vistas of the river-cut valley abound.

The MDH can be broken down into sections, each anchored by campgrounds along the route: the southern end starts just south of Medora at Sully Creek State Park. The trail heads north and goes through the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Cottonwood Campground is near the trail. The MDH exists at the north end of the south unit and continues to Wannagan Campground. From Wannagan the trail continues to Elkhorn Campground and the nearby Elkhorn Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. After Elkhorn, the next campground is Magpie. Then Bennett Campground is 3.2 miles off the trail, accessible by the Bennett Trail. Near the north end, the Summit Campground is accessible by the 3.8 mile Summit Trail. Finally, the Maah Daah Hey Trail ends at the CCC Campground, just south of the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Water cache boxes are available along the trail for long-distance or thru hikes. The locations of these water boxes are available on the website of the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association at mdhta.com.

From Sully Creek State Park, runners can continue south on the newer Maah Daah Hey II - The Deuce trail for more badlands challenges.

Flora & Fauna

Most of the trail is part of the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands, which stretches over 1,259,000 acres. The grasslands offer visitors the opportunity to view elk, antelope, whitetail and mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, sharptail grouse, greater prairie chicken, pheasants, wild turkeys, golden eagle, red tail hawk, prairie falcon, garter snake, prairie rattle snake, and prairie dogs. Bison and feral horses are confined to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 5 votes

#6051

Overall
  4.4 from 5 votes
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Trail Rankings

#15

in North Dakota

#6,051

Overall
52 Views Last Month
2,131 Since Jan 25, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Devils Pass
Jan 17, 2016 near Medora, ND
The Maah Daah Hey works its way along the Little Missouri River before crossing many miles to the north. Photo credit: NPS/Laura Thomas.
May 25, 2017 near Medora, ND
Epic singletrack of the Maah Daah Hey trail winding through the painted hills of the badlands.
Jun 30, 2015 near Medora, ND
Views towards the south. Credit: hoigaardsoutdoors.com
Jun 24, 2015 near Watford…, ND
This land was originally eroded by an intermittent stream.
May 21, 2017 near Watford…, ND
A view from the Maah Daah Hey
May 18, 2018 near Medora, ND

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