Why should you travel all the way out to Fargo, North Dakota for the Annual Celebration?
In short: 3 Days of great, diverse hiking.
When you register to join us in Fargo in September 15-17, you’ll be able to enjoy some urban hiking along the Red River of the North (yes, the one of repeated flooding fame) within a nearly contiguous greenway, some great hiking on the NCT in northwestern Minnesota, and finally hiking on the NCT and other trails in southeastern North Dakota.
Nearly all of the Minnesota and North Dakota hikes will be held on North Country Trail built since the NCTA’s Conference was last in Bemidji in 2007 and Valley City in 2009. As many of you know, the hiking is different out in the prairies of western Minnesota and North Dakota.
Views are abundant, a light breeze is omnipresent, and the wildlife is different than the NCT’s more typical Northwoods.
Highlights of the Thursday urban hikes in the downtown Fargo-Moorhead area:
– All hikes will be led by local Dakota Prairie Chapter volunteers and will feature an interpreter to talk about the local history, culture, and ecology.
– The hikes are easy as the trails are paved and grades are gentle; however, some steps may be required.
– Travel over pedestrian bridges between Minnesota and North Dakota, along a grassy flood protection dike overlooking the Cities and the River in between, and past a dam removal project that has created urban whitewater.
– Hike through a former neighborhood where all the houses were bought out following the 2009 flooding and is now an urban park.
– Hike along a particularly twisted section of the River where you look east into North Dakota from Minnesota. Wait….what?
– Stop in for a quick tour of the Hjemkomst Center and the Hopperstad Stave Church
– Check out a replica of a Viking ship that sailed all the way from Duluth to Oslo, Norway in 1982.
Highlights of the Friday hikes in the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge area:
Most hikes are located in 43,000 acre Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge – the only National Wildlife Refuge that the NCT currently passes through.
– Hikes led by leaders of the local Laurentian Lakes Chapter and also interpreters from the Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (recently recognized as The Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award by the National Wildlife Refuge Association and/or Refuge staff.
– Learn more about this ecologically diverse area by stopping at the Visitors Center and checking out the exhibits. Tamarac lies at a spot where 3 biomes (prairie parkland, eastern broadleaf (hardwood) forest, and Laurentian mixed forest) come together and thus offers a great diversity of habitats and wildlife species.
– Hikes range from a short 2-mile hike on the newly finished spur trail from the Discovery Center (a new environmental education facility) to the NCT to a 13-mile trek across Tamarac.
– Scenic highlights to be seen include the Tamarac Lake vista, the 1800’ Tamarac Lake causeway, the 1000’ puncheon through a black spruce-tamarack bog, the crossing of the Otter Tail River atop the water control structure by Chippewa Lake, an old growth hardwood forest, and the Laurentian Divide near Greenwater Lake Scientific and Natural Area.
– There will also be opportunities to learn more about efforts to safeguard the future of the golden-winged warbler and also to take a photography safari of the Refuge for those not interested in long hiking.
Highlights of the Saturday hikes in southeastern North Dakota:
– Hikes led by leaders of the local Dakota Prairie Chapter and will feature a interpreter to talk about the local history, flora, and fauna.
– The hikes range from easy to challenging and most will feature numerous fence stiles which can be challenging to use.
– Everyone will have the opportunity to visit the “Gateway to the Northern Plains” (Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site) and the settlement of the region in the mid to late 1800s.
– One hike will go 6 miles between the towns of Colfax and Walcott – along an active Railroad! No, the hike won’t be on the tracks but instead on a parallel trail that features prairie plants, lots of puncheon, and many historic features.
– Another offering will take hikers from the newly-opened Jorgen’s Hollow Campground in the Sheyenne National Grassland to the Ekre Grassland Preserve crossing a couple private easements along the way.
– The Ekre Grassland Preserve loop trails, which the DPC Chapter worked with NDSU students and Boy Scouts on, will be traveled. Hikers will enjoy views across the heavily forested Sheyenne River Valley and also get to hike on a remnant of the 1840s military wagon road from Fort Abercrombie to Fort Ransom.
– Finally, for the serious hikers we offer a 15-mile hike from middle of the Sheyenne National Grasslands to the Ekre Grassland Preserve. Along the way, you’ll traverse prairie (open grazing land), climb sandy ridges, traverse oak savannas, and cross Iron Springs Creek.
So, what are you waiting for?
Be sure to tell your friends that you’re going to Fargo to hike. They’ll no doubt get in a good laugh.
Be sure to tag your photos and posts with #HikeFargo to show them they were wrong!
As if that is not enough, the newly-formed Glacial Edge Chapter will be offering a post-Celebration hike in Fergus Falls for those heading eastbound on I-94 on Sunday. Hikers will have an opportunity to learn about the Prairie Pothole region (North America’s “duck factory”) at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Prairie Wetland Learning Center and go for a guided hike on one of the newest pieces of the NCT. The GEC is developing a 9-mile loop within the City of Fergus Falls.