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Maah Daah Hey Trail, Section in South Unit
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Maah Daah Hey Trail, Section in South Unit

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Maah Daah Hey Trail, Section in South Unit

Page Type: Route

Location: North Dakota, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 46.93039°N / 103.54951°W

Object Title: Maah Daah Hey Trail, Section in South Unit

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Hike

Route Quality: 
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Page By: nader

Created/Edited: Sep 26, 2016 / Oct 27, 2017

Object ID: 983722

Hits: 533 

Page Score: 84.27%  - 18 Votes 

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Overview

Maah Daah Hey is a 144 mile long non-motorized trail that goes from Burning Coal Campground 30 miles south of Medora, ND to the CCC Campground 16 miles south of Watford City, ND. An 8.5 mile section of the trail goes through the southern unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This section of the trail starts under the I-94 bridge over Little Missouri River and follows the river north for roughly 3 miles where it veers west and climbs 450 vertical feet to reach the top of a 2700 ft high plateau. Once on top of the plateau, the view will be for the most part that of a flat grassy plain stretching into the horizon. At times, however, from the edge of the plateau, you will get spectacular views of badlands and Little Missouri River 450 ft below. At the northern border of the park, Maah Daah Hey Trail reaches the junction with North Petrified Forest Trail before exiting the park.

Getting There

I saw no designated parking area or any signs for Maah Daah Hey trail from the road. See map. The trail started at the junction of I-94 east bound ramp at Exit 24 and Pacific Avenue north of Andrews Creek in Medora, ND. I found a parking area just south of the trailhead where a paved bike trail reached Pacific Ave. Space for parking also seemed to be available on the west bound I-94 ramp. Once I hiked a short distance down the trail toward Andrews Creek, I saw a sign identifying the trail as Maah Daah Hey.

I first parked on the west bound ramp but a fence prevented me from accessing the trail.



Route Description

All distances are per my GPS.

Place
Elevation
Distance
I-94 Trailhead
2260 ft
zero miles
Jct. Lone Tree Trail
2280 ft
3.80 miles
Jct. South Petrified Trail
2700 ft
1.50 miles
Jct. North Petrified Trail
2660 ft
3.30 miles
Total One Way
-
8.60 miles




At the trailhead mentioned above, go a short distance until you see the sign identifying Maah Daah Hey Trail. Right goes south toward Sully Creek Trailhead. Turn left, go under the 1-94 bridge and enter the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The trail heads north on a grassy plain along Little Missouri River. From most places the river will not be visible.

Highway noise will continue for some time. Looking back at I-94 bridge.

I-94 Bridge over Little Missouri River
I-94 bridge


Views of Little Missouri River.

Little Missouri River
 
Little Missouri River
 
Little Missouri River
 
Little Missouri River
 


To the west, hills rise sharply above the plain of the river.

Hills rising above Little Missouri River
 
Hills rising above Little Missouri River
 


Hills rising above Little Missouri River
 


After a few miles, the trail veers west going up a hill away from the river. Looking southeast back at the river.

Little Missouri River Valley
 
Little Missouri River
 


Looking west.

After leaving river valley
 
After leaving river valley
 


After crossing Knutson Creek, you will reach the junction with Lone Tree Trail. When I did my hike, the area was very muddy.

Knutson Creek
Knutson Creek


Continuing north on Maah Daah Hey Trail.

After the junction with Lone Tree Trail
 


Prairie Dog Town on both sides of the trail.

Prairie Dog Town
Prairie Dog Town


The trail then gets into a valley among the hills and begins to climb.

Trail climbing the hills
 
Trail climbing the hills
 
Trail climbing the hills
 
Trail climbing the hills
 


Trail limbing the hills
 


You will then reach the top of a flat grassy plateau and the junction with South Petrified Forest Trail.

Flat grassy plateau
Flat grassy plateau


For the next 3.3 miles you will be walking on the grassy plateau. At times, Badlands and Missouri River can be seen. At the junction with North Petrified Forest Trail, you will reach the northern boundary of the park.

Badlands
 
Little Missouri River from the top of the plateau
 
Badlands
 
On the trail
 
Badlands
 
Badlands
 

Red Tape

You must pay to enter Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The section of Maah Daah Hey Trail inside the park is closed to bicycles. Day hiking needs no permits.

Images

Trail climbing the hillsLittle Missouri RiverLittle Missouri River from the top of the plateauTrail climbing the hillsBadlandsBadlandsLittle Missouri River
Hills rising above Little Missouri RiverPrairie Dog TownTrail limbing the hillsAfter leaving river valleyKnutson CreekAfter the junction with Lone Tree TrailLittle Missouri River
[ View Gallery - 13 More Images ]