For 96 miles on the Maah Daah Hey Trail, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders share the trek on what is considered the premier non-motorized trail through North Dakota’s Badlands.
A connection to the past
The trail, part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in North Dakota, traverses an area of highly dissected badlands surrounded by large expanses of gently rolling prairie. Its name derives from the Mandan Indians. In the Mandan language, one word or phrase can describe a picture, feeling or situation. In this case, the phrase means “an area that has been or will be around a long time.”
The trail symbol is a turtle. For the Lakota Sioux Indians, the turtle symbolizes firm determination, steadfastness, patience, long life and fortitude.
A long, winding trail
The north end of the train begins at the at the Civilian Conservation Corps campground then winds its way 97 miles to its southern end at Sully Creek State Park. Open year round, users may find some difficulties due to snow, high, high water or mud during various times of the year.
The rewards of the trail are in the views, especially when you reach a plateau that allows you to catch an afternoon rainbow as thunderstorm moved in the distance, wild rabbits as they scamper about the tall grasses or herds of antelope lazily grazing.
Don’t let the length of the trail turn you away. There are small sections you can try to fit your expertise level.
Stretching more than 1,259,000 acres, the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands offer visitors the opportunity to view an abundance of wildlife and take part in a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, horseback riding, photography, canoeing, fishing, hunting and backpacking. The area is not solid blocks of Forest Service lands. Rather, they are intermingled with other federal, state and privately owned lands. This mixed ownership pattern contributes to the uniqueness of this special place.
Amenities: Vault toilets; four fenced overnight campsites – Bennet, Elkhorn, Magpie and Wannagan – with hitching posts, campfire rings and hand-pumped potable water throughout the season.
Operating hours: The trail is open for use all year, but at various times of the year, the trail may be impassable due to snow, ice, high water and mud.
The trail is shared with horseback riders, hikers and bicyclists and is closed to motorized vehicles. Although pumped potable water is available, trail users are encouraged to bring enough fresh water for each person.
Users must pack out all trash and other materials.
The trail enters Theodore Roosevelt National Park at both the north and south units. However, mountain bikes are not allowed in that area of the national park.
46-53-23-N, 103-32-14 W