“96 miles of North Dakota singletrack through badlands and prairies
— Karen Ryberg
Birding · 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.
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.