Hiking is one of the top outdoor activities in North Dakota, especially once
winter ends. The North Dakota hiking trails range from paved routes ideal for
casual strolls to unpaved routes that are better suited for those who are looking
to get off the beaten path. The North Dakota state parks are among the best
places to hike in the state, and you can find state parks near all the top destinations.
When visiting the capital city of Bismarck,
for example, you can make the short drive to Fort Lincoln State Park. In addition
to hiking in the North Dakota state parks, you can head to one of the state's
refuges, where the trails are in good supply as well. National parks, grasslands,
and historic sites are some of the other places you might consider when looking
to go hiking in North Dakota, so you'll want to explore all the options.
Even if you don't go to a wildlife refuge to do your North Dakota hiking, viewing animals along the way is typical. At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, for example, you're bound to spot a number of different creatures, including elk, bison, bighorn sheep, and white-tailed deer. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is arguably the best place to go hiking in North Dakota, as it is here that you find the renowned Badlands. You'll also find more than 100 miles of trails at the park. Hiking along the more strenuous trails at Theodore Roosevelt National Park is always interesting, but if you're up for something lighter, the park also boasts easier trails. The self-guided trails here are among the most popular, and you can pick up trail guides for them at the park's visitor center. The Wind Canyon route is one of the better self-guided trails at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as it offers some stunning views of the Little Missouri River carving its way through the Badlands terrain.
The North Dakota hiking trails found at the state parks are best suited for day hikes, but if you prefer covering a lot of distance, you can always take to one of the state's more extensive trails. The 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail passes through the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it's ideal for those who want to make North Dakota hiking the focus of their trip. The Maah Daah Hey Trail features four different campsites, so you can also stop along the way to set up camp. These campsites are fenced and feature amenities like campfire rings and vault toilets. The North Country National Scenic Trail is another extended North Dakota hiking trail worth considering if you are interested in extended hikes. This long trail follows the shore of Lake Sakakawea near Williston and extends toward the Sheyenne State Forest in the southeastern part of the state. You can easily access this trail from a number of North Dakota's top destinations, including Devils Lake, Valley City, and Wahpeton. Hiking isn't the only thing that you can do on the North Country National Scenic Trail. Horseback riding is also possible, and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available during the winter months.
The 24 wildlife refuges found across the state are also good places to find quality North Dakota hiking trails. While walking along the interpretive foot trails that these wildlife refuges offer, you will find signs along the way that give insight into the park's flora and fauna, plus its history. The city of Minot offers proximity to four of the largest wildlife refuges in the state, so you might head there if you want to do some wildlife viewing as you trek. The J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge is only about an hour's drive from Minot and offers a 22-mile trail that passes along sandhills, marshes, and wooded areas.
Hiking in North Dakota offers something for everyone, and you can even go backcountry hiking here if you please. This kind of hiking involves leaving the real world behind for a while, so it's imperative that you bring the proper supplies. The backcountry in North Dakota is devoid of drinking water sources that are approved for human consumption, so bringing water in with you is extremely important. Make sure you prepare for the hike at hand regardless of where you decide to hike in North Dakota, especially in the backcountry and during the winter months.