“A highpoint to view the beautiful Turtle Mountain area.
— Karen Ryberg
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This trail is a short run up to a high point in the Turtle Mountains that provides a spectacular view of the trees and lakes below. It also has historical significance for the area with a cairn and plaque dedicated to George Anthony Belcourt. It loops back down to the parking area which includes a grassy area that could be used for picnics.
From Dunseith, North Dakota, head west on State Highway 5 for 6.5 miles. Turn north onto 23rd Ave Northeast. Follow the road 3.1 miles. There is a sign for the Butte Saint Paul State Recreation Area. Turn right and follow the winding two-track gravel road about half a mile through a wooded area to a parking area and grassy picnic area.
There is a sign at the trailhead and the trail is a circular route going counterclockwise up a hill to the monument, crossing an open area with spectacular views of the Turtle Mountain area, and coming back down to the parking area through woods.
History & Background
Butte St. Paul was named by Missionary George Anthony Belcourt. It was once considered the highest spot in North Dakota and offers scenic views of the hilly, wooded Turtle Mountain area.
Belcourt was visiting Native Americans in the area in January 1850. The group (including guides and sled dogs) was caught in a blizzard and sought the highest peak in the area. They buried themselves in the snow until the storm broke. On Jan. 25, which coincides with the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Belcourt offered a Mass of thanksgiving for their survival of the blizzard He named the summit Butte St. Paul and placed a wooden cross on it. A 12-foot cairn was eventually erected to mark the spot.