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“Best Reason to Visit North Dakota”

Ranked #13 of 19 things to do in Medora
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Attraction details
Owner description: A 120-mile biking, hiking and horseback riding trail.
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Level Contributor
28 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Best Reason to Visit North Dakota”
Reviewed 7 July 2014

If you're like many U.S. travelers, you've not been to North Dakota. It is the least visited state of the 50. Ironically, it also has the best economy.

My wife had been to all the contiguous 48 states except ND, so I wanted to take her there. We love outdoor activities and Mountain Biking and I had read about the MDH trail years ago. I also had read a history book about Theodore Roosevelt called "Mornings on Horseback." All this led to the town of Medora, which has to be the most touristy place in a not very tourist state. I say that in a good way, the town is cool with T. Roosevelt reenactors and decent restaurants, museums and the T. Roosevelt Nat. Park visitor center. Not over the top like Gatlinburg, Tennessee for example. We were going to go to the Medora Musical, but it rained the night we arrived and cancelled the outdoor show. Plus the very helpful Dakota Cyclery is in Medora, which is the expert on all things Maah Daah Hey trail. Anyone riding the trail should start at DC in Medora, they can help you with whatever MDH trail adventure you can imagine. One thing they told us is that the trail now leads well to the South of Medora. A lot of dated information says it runs ~100 miles mostly North of Medora. It actually leads about 95 miles North and about 50 miles South of Medora now. Most of the Southern miles have been built in the last 4 years or so.

We had two days to check out the trail just before 4th of July, 2014. I wanted to also visit T. Roosevelt's old Elkhorn Ranch site, so we drove West and North about 30 miles to mountain bike the trail. We started at the Elkhorn Campground which is maybe 2-3 miles from the Elkhorn Ranch site and right on the MDH trail. That campground is nice with hilly terrain and woods next to neatly mowed grass where you can set up a tent. In fact the National Grasslands people had been out mowing the trail where we were too. We started down the trail from there and quickly came to the Elkhorn Ranch unit of TR Natl. Park. We followed the rules of no mtn. biking and walked the 1/2 mile trail to the old ranch site--old bulidings gone long ago. It was very peaceful and a scenic spot. It would be cool if they would rebuild a replica ranch, but I'm sure there is no budget for that. Next we rode the trail Northbound until we reached the trail's Little Missouri River crossing. There is no bridge, you have to ford across if you want to reach the East side of the river. The folks at Dakota Cyclery and TRNP had all advised against fording as the Spring had been wet and water was high. The vegetation was lush though and the trail was not muddy around there anyway. The trail was grass in many spots but not hard to follow with the many 45 degree top posts with a turtle logo they set along the trail route. So we turned around when we got to the river. We rode back toward the campground and took a shortcut on the county road. A rancher came by in a pickup surprised to see anyone out there at all, so we chatted for a while. He had a nice place down in the river bottom. We discussed the oil boom and judging by his brand new pickup was probably helping him a little or a lot. There are some new oil wells as this are is on the Southwest side of the Bakken trend oil boom area. I didn't find them bothersome at all--the pads are usually located in depressions and surface equipment painted tan to blend in. They are driving North Dakota's extremely healthy economy and the fact is, participating in outdoor sports like mountain biking is completely dependent on availability of oil & gas for many aspects.

After talking to the rancher, we rode back to camp on the road to save time. A big tank truck also passed as that is how they get the oil out of the well tanks. Other than that it is very quiet and we spotted deer, pronghorn, bison, pheasant, and many other birds. We were the only ones we saw on the trail and in camp and enjoyed a beautiful and peaceful evening. Great place for solitude it appears.

The next day we rode a little ways South on the trail toward the Wannagan camp. Not very far though and we came back to the car. We packed up and drove back to Medora. We stopped back in to Dakota Cyclery, and hired them to shuttle us further South on the newer South portion of the trail. We ate lunch in town then rode their van down to Plumely Draw trailhead. Then we rode the trail all the way back to Bully Pulpit--about 16 miles of trail. The trail is more dirt than grass down here but the scenery was beautiful just the same. Somewhat "crowded" as we passed 4 other bikes on that stretch.

Overall, I loved the samples we got of the trail and would love to ride the entire thing some day. It is scenic country with a fun little town in the middle and a place that I would call undiscovered and extremely uncrowded. There is much variety in terrain, if you love to mountain bike you have got to find something to love out here--probably a lot of things to love.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank Douglas B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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24 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Fremont, California
Level Contributor
5,271 reviews
3,400 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2,682 helpful votes
“Interesting Trail Through Scenic Area - Bikes, Hikes, and Horse Back”
Reviewed 25 June 2014

I wish we had more time but the short hike we did on the Maah Daah Hey Trail "wetted" our appetite some day to return and do a longer hike. You can also do mountain biking and horse back rides on this trail through this scenic area.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank mini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Morocco, Indiana
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Great and Challenging Trails”
Reviewed 5 April 2014

We helped surface many sections of this trail. They improve it every year. I would start at the north end if I were not going to be able to do the whole trail, it is much more scenic, but also a bit more challenging

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank tankerman32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Horse Patch, Wyoming
Level Contributor
28 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“One of the Best Horse Trails in the US”
Reviewed 18 August 2013

and connects to the trails in the Teddy Roosevelt National Park south end. You cannot ride it all in a week and probably not in a month!! our group did 25 miles a day for a week and still had lots to explore when we come back. Stay at Sully Creek Campground, great sites with great corrals and the trailhead to the Maah Daah Hey is right there.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank MeridethInWyoming
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minnesota
Level Contributor
185 reviews
48 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 292 helpful votes
“Top quality trail....for the well prepared.”
Reviewed 12 June 2013

Whether on horse, on foot or on a mountain bike, the Maah Daah Hey Trail is simply an awesome experience. But I will caveat it with you need to be prepared. After it rains, the trail can have some challenging spots but if you are prepared for a remote trail, it is quite beautiful, easily navigated and well marked and well worth trying. Just be prepared for the weather and able to care for yourself. If you are into that kind of scenario, you will not be disappointed. I only wish I could have experienced a longer segment of the trail than I was able.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank BorealForestDweller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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