Western Terminus Day Hike

Lake Sakakawea is North Dakota’s largest lake and is one of the state’s most scenic escapes for fishing and boating. It also affords hikers with some great views of the Lake and Garrison Dam on this moderate 3.6-mile out and back hike that begins at the North Country Trail’s western terminus.

Hike highlights

  • Visit the North Country Trail’s western terminus
  • Enjoy sweeping views of Lake Sakakawea
  • Hike through a mixture of open prairie, trees, and shrubs with abundant wildlife
  • Excellent birding opportunities


The gently rolling prairie, wooded draws and shelterbelts are home for a diverse wildlife community, including white-tailed deer, ring-necked pheasants, raccoons, jackrabbits, or perhaps a coyote or fox. Forty-five of the over 135 birds that may be observed in the park are on the Natural Heritage Inventory’s state rare species list. Some of the rare species include the piping plover, least tern, eastern bluebird, osprey, whooping crane, golden eagle, markbled godwit, loggerhead shrike, Sprague’s pipit, Baird’s sparrow, white-throated sparrow, northern mockingbird, LeConte’s sparrow and chestnut-collared longspur.

Directions to and GPS Coordinates for trailheads

Note: there is a $5/day State Park entrance fee per car.

  • The Lake Sakakawea State Park visitor’s center trailhead is located about 1 mile north of Pick City.  Head east from Pick City and immediately turn north on Lake Sakakawea State Park Rd.  The entrance station and park office is located on the east side of the road.  GPS: N 47°31’11.18″ & W 101°27’12.91″.

General route description: From the Lake Sakakawea State Park visitor center’s parking area, head southeast and before long you’ll pass the NCT’s western terminus sign.  The trail winds in and out of several wooded ravines and past numerous side trails.  You’ll pass a backcountry restroom and a short side trail to another trailhead parking area before reaching State Highway 200.  On the hike, you’ll catch views of some of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Garrison Dam facilities, located right across Highway 200 from where the NCT comes out.  To see some different scenery on the way back to your car, take the Shoreline and Overlook Trails (it’ll be a little shorter than the 2-mile NCT route at 1.6 mi.).

Trail map: Map: ND-111 or download Lake Sakakawea State Park’s trail map

Camping information: Camping and lodging is available within Lake Sakakawea State Park and in the nearby communities of Riverdale and Pick City.  Backcountry camping is not available on the NCT.

Get Connected:
ND Parks and Rec: Lake Sakakawea State Park
Visit McLean County: recreation information

Updated – 12/2/2010 – Problems with this page? Contact: Matt Davis

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