“Run across the Sheyenne National Grasslands' wide open tallgrass prairie on the North Country Trail.”
— Matthew Davis
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The NCT is open to trail running but the tread contains frequent holes and deposits from cattle.
From the trailhead, the NCT heads through a swing gate heading northeast before swinging to the southeast and passing over a long puncheon through a wet area. After crossing through a fence, the NCT turns north, passes by a stock water tank, and then crosses another fence before crossing a two track road.
North of the road crossing, the NCT crosses through another couple of fences heading northeast toward a large grove of trees. The trees include a mix of planted Ponderosa Pines and deciduous trees. This is a nice shady spot to enjoy a snack break or could be a campsite (no water)...but watch out for poison ivy.
Past the trees, the NCT crosses through two more gates heading northeast before turning north, passing by a livestock corral area, passing by a stock watering tank, and then swinging way to the northwest to swing around a large wetland. The NCT then heads east-southeast through a landscape of prairie-covered sand dunes and wetlands (look for prairie wildflowers on this section) before turning north, crossing a puncheon and then reaching the swing gate at Hwy 27. Parking is available for a few cars where the NCT comes out to Hwy 27.
Don't be alarmed by cattle on or near the NCT. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. They will be curious about you but should move out of the way. Be careful to not get between a cow and her calves.
The Sheyenne National Grassland area was all privately owned and farmed until the Dust Bowl era when the Federal Government bought out and relocated the struggling farmers/ranchers. Afterward, the Soil Conservation Service worked to restore the grasslands' health and the land was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service for management back in the 1960s.
The grass-covered sand dunes that you can see resulted from blowing sand deposited at the delta where glacial river flowed.
Flora & Fauna
The Grassland contains a mix of tallgrass prairie plants and wetland plants. Learn more at gf.nd.gov/wildlife/habitats…
Unfortunately, it also contains a lot of invasive plants—including the yellow flowered leafy spurge. Look for the endangered western prairie fringed orchid; look for prairie wildflowers, and dodge the cows.