Are you ready to discover the beauty of North Dakota’s hiking trails? Look no further than our top picks for the best hikes in North Dakota to explore in 2023. With stunning canyons and peaceful prairies, there’s something for every outdoor lover to enjoy. Whether seeking breathtaking views, wildlife sightings, or a challenging hike, North Dakota’s trails have it all. Grab your hiking boots and backpack and get ready for an unforgettable hiking adventure in the Peace Garden State.
Best Hikes in North Dakota
North Dakota may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of hiking, but there are some great trails to explore in the state. Wind Canyon Trail, Caprock Coulee Loop, and Painted Canyon Nature Trail are all popular options. Each trail offers its own unique scenery and challenges, making them great options for hikers of all skill levels. Whether you’re looking for a quick day hike or a more challenging excursion, North Dakota has something to offer.
1. Wind Canyon Trail
Wind Canyon Trail, Medora, ND 58645, USA
Location: Fairfield Mileage: 0.5-mile loop trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Enjoy the popular hiking and walking trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park while relishing quiet moments during less busy hours. Please note that dogs are not allowed on this trail. Entry to the park requires a fee.
Wind Canyon Nature Trail
is a family-friendly hike accessed from the park's Scenic Loop Road. It leads to an overlook of the Little Missouri River, making it a popular choice for sunset hikes. Short and scenic, it offers a delightful experience for all ages.
2. Caprock Coulee Loop
Caprock Coulee Trail, Grassy Butte, ND 58634, USA
Location: Watford City Mileage: 4.4-mile loop trail Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Popular hiking spot in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Expect company year-round. Dogs not allowed. Park entrance fee. Beautiful trail anytime.
Caprock Coulee Loop
offers a hike through dry washes and provides beautiful views of the Little Missouri River. As you walk along the route, you'll be surrounded by the vibrant landscape of the badlands. And if you're lucky, you might spot some wildlife, including bison and big horn sheep. Just make sure to stay alert for rattlesnakes, especially on warm days.
3. Painted Canyon Nature Trail
Painted Canyon Nature Trail, Belfield, ND 58622, USA
Location: Fairfield Mileage: 1.1-mile loop trail Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. No dogs allowed. Fee to enter. Beautiful year-round.
Get ready for a quick and fun hiking trail at
. Just off Interstate 94, this trail is perfect for breaking up a long drive and stretching those legs. Starting at the canyon rim, you'll dive into a jaw-dropping world of vibrant rock formations. However, be ready for some challenging sections when hiking back out. Don't miss this scenic trail and its epic views while passing through the area.
Best Short & Easy Hikes in North Dakota
North Dakota offers some great short and easy hikes for those who want to enjoy the outdoors without committing to a long trek. The Boicourt Overlook Trail, Coal Vein Trail, and White Butte North Dakota’s Highpoint Trail, are a great start. These hikes offer beautiful views and are perfect for beginners or those looking for a quick getaway.
4. Boicourt Overlook Trail
Boicourt Overlook Trail, Boicourt Overlook Trl, North Billings, ND 58645, USA
Location: Medora Mileage: 0.8-mile out-and-back trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Popular hiking and walking area in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Best times to visit: April to October. No dogs allowed. Entrance fee required.
When exploring North Dakota's badlands, don't miss the
. It's super convenient, located right in the middle of the South Unit scenic drive. Take a breather from driving, stretch your legs, and enjoy the picturesque vistas on this accessible, paved trail over the badlands. Feeling adventurous? Venture further along the unpaved section for even more overlooks.
5. Coal Vein Trail
Coal Vein Nature Trail, Belfield, ND 58622, USA
Location: Fairfield Mileage: 0.6-mile loop trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Best times to visit: March to October. No dogs allowed. Entrance fee required. Enjoy solitude during quieter times. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.
Coal Vein Trail
, a straightforward hike with stairs that showcases how the coal fires shaped the landscape. It's a warm hike on sunny days and has limited shade, but the scenery makes it worthwhile. There are plenty of little jut-offs on the route with scenic overlooks, making it one of the most pretty landscapes of the paths.
6. White Butte North Dakota's Highpoint Trail Location: Amidon Mileage: 3.4-mile out-and-back trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Popular trail for birding, hiking, and running. Best times to visit: March to October. Dogs welcome, off-leash in some areas. Enjoy solitude during quieter times.
Don't miss the hidden gem,
White Butte North Dakota's Highpoint Trail
. The trail is easy to follow, there's convenient parking right by the trailhead, and remember to leave a donation for the landowner in the secure and clearly marked red receptacle. The hike is quick and easy, offering fantastic views at the top. It's a perfect spot for a sunset hike, as the hills block the sun from the west.
Hardest Hikes in North Dakota
We’ve heard that North Dakota has some pretty challenging hikes! One that often comes up is the Achenbach Trail, known for its steep inclines and rocky terrain. Another tough one is the North Achenbach and Buckhorn Trail Loop, which has some amazing views but can be quite strenuous. For the truly adventurous, the Bennett-Maah Daah Hey-Cottonwood Loop is a real challenge, with rugged terrain and unpredictable weather. And if you’re looking for a real workout, the Achenbach and Bison Trail Loop is definitely worth considering.
7. Achenbach, North Achenbach and Buckhorn Trail Loop
Grassy Butte, ND 58634, USA
Location: Grassy Butte Mileage: 18.5-mile loop trail Difficulty: Hard FYI: Ideal for backpacking, camping, and hiking. Best times: April to October. Limited crowds. No dogs allowed. Theodore Roosevelt National Park fee applies. Carry plenty of water.
Embark on the adventurous
18.5-mile loop trail
near Grassy Butte, North Dakota. Though very challenging, it offers incredible scenery, abundant wildlife, and a true backcountry experience. Expect rugged terrain and some bushwhacking, but it's worth it for the untouched beauty. Start counterclockwise at Juniper Campground and be prepared for two river crossings with potentially muddy water. Offline maps are essential, as some parts aren't clearly marked, especially near the south Achenbach. A memorable journey for those seeking a wilderness escape.
8. Bennett-Maah Daah Hey-Cottonwood Loop
Maah Daah Hey Trail, South Billings, ND 58645, USA
Location: Grassy Butte Mileage: 15.3-mile loop trail Difficulty: Hard FYI: Perfect for backpacking, hiking, and running. Few crowds expected.
Bennett-Maah Daah Hey-Cottonwood Loop
, a 15.3-mile trail near Grassy Butte, North Dakota. Though challenging, it offers rewarding backpacking, hiking, and running opportunities with well-defined and mostly easy-to-navigate trails. Enjoy breathtaking views of the badlands and a satisfying workout on this scenic adventure.
9. Achenbach and Bison Trail Loop Location: Arnegard Mileage: 13.6-mile loop trail Difficulty: Hard FYI: Ideal for backpacking, fishing, and hiking. Limited crowds expected. Best times: March to November. No dogs allowed. Park entrance fee applies. Carry sufficient water due to river sediment content and unreliable springs.
Are you itching for an epic hike? Check out
Bennett-Maah Daah Hey-Cottonwood Loop
in Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit. This challenging trail spans the park's expansive west end, perfect for strenuous day hikes or backcountry backpacking. With two Little Missouri River crossings and a majority in the designated wilderness area, it promises scenic beauty and wildlife encounters. Though not a complete loop, the experience is worth it - there is a two-mile portion where you will have to road hike, hitchhike, or arrange a second vehicle. Enjoy the uphill climbs, coulee descents, and breathtaking vistas.
Best Waterfront Hikes in North Dakota
Some of the best waterfront hikes in North Dakota include the Harmon Lake Trail, McDowellDam Loop, and Fort Stevenson Loop. These trails offer stunning views of lakes, rivers, and dams, and are perfect for nature lovers looking to get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors.
10. Harmon Lake Trail
Harmon Lake Trail, Mandan, ND 58554, USA
Location: Mandan Mileage: 8.3-mile loop trail Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Popular for birding, mountain biking, and walking. Solitude possible during off-peak hours. Best times: May to October. Dogs allowed off-leash in certain spots. Harmon Lake Trail
is an 8.3-mile loop near Mandan, North Dakota. Moderately challenging, the trail takes a few hours to complete. Loved by birders, mountain bikers, and walkers, it offers a fun excursion through curvy, twisty, and rocky open prairies. Enjoy the scenic rolling plains, hills, and trees, which are particularly captivating in the fall. Keep an eye out for bikers along the way.
11. McDowell Dam Loop
McDowell Dam Recreation Area, 1951 93rd St NE, Bismarck, ND 58501, USA
Location: Bismarck Mileage: 2.7-mile loop trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Ideal for birding, fishing, and hiking. Minimal crowds during exploration. McDowell Dam Loop
is a leisurely 2.7-mile easy trail near Bismarck, North Dakota. The well-maintained path offers panoramic views and a mix of hilly and level terrain. You'll find plenty of resting spots along the way, making it a delightful hike with an average completion time of around an hour.
12. Fort Stevenson Loop
Fort Stevenson State Park, 1252A 41st Ave NW, Garrison, ND 58540, USA
Location: Garrison Mileage: 10.8-mile loop trail Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Perfect for camping, cross-country skiing, and fishing. Secluded and uncrowded for exploration. Dogs allowed on a leash. Fort Stevenson Loop
is a 10.8-mile loop trail near Garrison, North Dakota. It's a great hike with low elevation, perfect for some relaxed outdoor time. If you know the right spots along the route, you'll be able to enjoy epic sunset and sunrise views. Just a heads up, wear long pants from summer to fall, as the grass can get a bit overgrown on the trail. But trust us, the scenery makes it all worth it.
Best Winter Hikes in North Dakota
North Dakota has some of the best winter hikes for nature enthusiasts. Long X to Maah Daah Hey Loop, Ma-ak-oti Trail, and Turtle River Nature Trail are some of the hidden gems. These trails are perfect for those looking to get some fresh air during the winter season.
13. Long X to Maah Daah Hey Loop
Grassy Butte, ND 58634, USA
Location: Grassy Butte Mileage: 11.1-mile loop trail Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Ideal for backpacking, hiking, and snowshoeing. Secluded and serene for exploration. Dogs allowed on a leash. Open year-round with captivating scenery.
Check out the
Long X to Maah Daah Hey Loop
. It's a dream for mountain bikers, but hikers will love it too, and the views of the Little Missouri River Valley and the badlands are stunning. The trail winds through wooded areas along the river and opens to expansive grasslands on higher grounds, offering a truly diverse experience in the North Dakota wilderness.
14. Ma-ak-oti Trail Location: Washburn Mileage: 5.2-mile loop trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Favored for birding, camping, and hiking. Find moments of tranquility during off-peak hours.
Head out and explore the
in Cross Ranch State Park, a 5.2-mile loop near Washburn, North Dakota. It's an easy route, taking under two hours to complete. Perfect for a relaxed hike and some quality time in nature. In winter, it's a hit for snowshoeing fun. The trail's well maintained, and you'll love the trail system with easy smaller hills - a great option for the whole family.
15. Turtle River Nature Trail Location: Arvilla Mileage: 6.3-mile loop trail Difficulty: Moderate FYI: Ideal for camping, cross-country skiing, and hiking. Solitude assured on the trail. Open year-round, offering stunning scenery. Dogs allowed on leash.
Explore the exciting
Turtle River Nature Trail
, offering a variety of recreational activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, trail biking, and fishing. Located near Grand Forks, it's a perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. Remember, there's a fee, but season passes are available, so don't hesitate to ask the ranger about getting one and enjoy this fantastic trail all year round.
Best Hikes near Bismarck
If you’re looking for great hiking near Bismarck, there are a few trails that come to mind. The Fort Lincoln Loop Trail is a popular choice, offering scenic views of the Missouri River and a glimpse into North Dakota’s history. The Missouri Valley Millennium Legacy Trail is another option, spanning over 50 miles. For a shorter hike, the East Sibley Nature Path is a lovely trail through the woods, with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.
16. Fort Lincoln Loop Trail Location: Bismarck Mileage: 3.6-mile loop trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Perfect for camping, hiking, and running. Secluded and serene. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.
Wander along the laid-back
Fort Lincoln Loop Trail
, perfect for families with easy terrain. Discover the area's rich history and fascinating sights in the park. The infantry towers offer great views of the area and don't miss climbing the block house stairs for more scenery. Pay the standard state park fee or get an annual pass and enjoy excellent vistas of the Missouri River.
17. Missouri Valley Millennium Legacy Trail Location: Bismarck Mileage: 4.8-mile out-and-back trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Ideal for cross-country skiing, fishing, and road biking. Find tranquility during off-peak hours. Open year-round, perfect for dogs on leashes. Missouri Valley Millennium Legacy Trail
offers easy access from the city with a fully paved path, attracting bikers and trail runners alike. Family-friendly with playgrounds, picnic shelters, and volleyball courts. Enjoy a pleasant balance of sun and shade for comfortable outings, even on warm days.
18. East Sibley Nature Path Location: Bismarck Mileage: 1.1-mile loop trail Difficulty: Easy FYI: Perfect for hiking and walking with limited crowds. East Sibley Nature Park
offers a pleasant 1.1-mile loop near Bismarck, North Dakota. The easy route takes about 19 minutes and is ideal for hiking and walking. Enjoy the well-kept, wide trail surrounded by trees and scenic spots along the river. Just be cautious near the cliff edges by the water.
Have you had the chance to explore any of these North Dakota hiking trails? If so, do you think any stand out as the best for North Dakota hiking? We’re excited to hear your thoughts on the best hiking trails in North Dakota!
Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike with miles of trails or an easy trail with beautiful scenery, this hub has everything you’ll need , and be sure to Try AllTrails+ For Free!
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More to Explore
The Best Hikes In North Dakota
Does North Dakota have good hiking trails?
North Dakota's best hiking trails include:
Little Missouri State Park Loop
Oak Leaf, North Country National Scenic Trails Loop
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Loop
Fort Ransom State Park Loop
Icelandic State Park Loop
Lake Sakakawea State Park: Shoreline Trail
North Country Trail: Sheyenne National Grassland
What are the best months to hike in North Dakota?
The ideal time for hiking in North Dakota varies depending on personal preferences and the chosen trails. However, in general, the most popular months for hiking are from June to August.
Explore North Dakota