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Visiting the Maah Daah Hey Trail

Maah Daah Hey Trail
licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Maah Daah Hey Trail

Have you been on the Maah Daah Hey Trail? If not, you really owe it to yourself to check it out, if you are able. And even if you have been out there, this summer or fall might be a good time to visit again. It has some spectacular scenery and wildlife to enjoy.

After more than a decade of planning and construction, the Maah Daah Hey Trail held its grand opening in 2014. “Maah Daah Hey” is Mandan for “an area that will be around for a long time.” Let’s hope so!

Visiting the trail
The trail stretches 144 miles from a CCC campground south of Watford City near the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, through the park’s South Unit, and onto the Burning Coal Vein Campground roughly 12 miles north of Amidon.

As a non-motorized trail, hikers, bikes, and equestrians are the principal users. (Heads up: No biking is allowed on the trail in the park. Check with Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Maah Daah Trail Association for rules and regulations.)

The Maah Daah Hey Trail is composed of nine units that vary in length from less than a mile to several miles. As you might expect, terrain can be quite variable, but the trail is designed to appeal to hikers, bikers, and equestrians of all abilities and interests.

There are 16 different trailheads, and 11 associated campgrounds. With a little help of trail maps, visitors can choose a segment location and topography that fits their interests and abilities. And of course, one could go for a short distance or several short trips, or perhaps take longer excursions. Maybe even do the whole trail!

There is little chance of getting lost on the trail. The trail itself is mostly self-evident. And the signage along the trail is well designed and consists of a wood post with a sign depicting a turtle and perhaps a mile marker. Signage is positioned along the trail such that the sign ahead and behind the traveler are within view and usually quite easy to spot.

The fun of hiking, biking, or horse riding might be a draw for some. But the real treat here is the spectacular scenery of the North Dakota badlands. There’s also a chance to see abundant and varied flora and fauna ranging from bison, mule deer, antelope, and golden eagles, to mountain bluebirds and a myriad of plants and wildflowers.

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Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of "Natural North Dakota"and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, Chuck has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror, and his “The Naturalist” columns appear in several other weekly North Dakota newspapers.
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