“This scenic loop is a birder's delight through upland grasslands and cottonwood forest along the Missouri River.”
— Karen Ryberg
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is an easy loop that includes upland grasslands and cottonwood forest along the Missouri River. The uplands area has prairie grasses, wildflowers, and birds. The east side of the loop follows the Missouri River, where it is likely to see ducks and geese and an occasional bald eagle.
Need to Know
There is a small water crossing that can easily be rund across.
Ticks can be particularly bad in Cross Ranch State Park, particularly from April through June. To achieve heightened protection, tuck your pants into your socks, your shirt into your pants, and wear plenty of repellant.
From the main parking lot near the Visitor Center, take the Interpretive Trail
south past the park amphitheater. Near where the trail loops back north, take a connector trail approximately 0.1 mile south to the Ma-ak-oti Trail Upper Loop
. Take the east or right side of the loop to experience a riparian environment.
When the trail loops back north, instead of going north, continue south on a connector trail approximately 0.2 miles to the Ma-ak-oti Trail Lower Loop
. Take the east or runner's left side of the loop. When the trail loops back north, it will follow grasslands and offer fantastic wildlife viewing.
Follow the east side of the Ma-ak-oti Trail Lower Loop
back to a connector trail, then onto the Ma-ak-oti Trail Upper Loop
. Take the left or west side of the loop to continue through upland grasslands. When the Ma-ak-oti Trail Upper Loop
ends at the connector trail, continue 0.1 mile to the Interpretive Trail
back to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
White-tailed deer, pheasants, bald eagles, giant Canada goose, mallard ducks, cottonwood, ash, prairie grasses, other birds, and flowers are abundant in this area.
History & Background
This is one of the last fairly undeveloped stretches of the Missouri River. The park is left mostly primitive to preserve a part of the Missouri River Valley and cottonwood forest.