North Dakota

Sweeping views are the norm in North Dakota, as the North Country Trail moves through the open country of the northern Great Plains, serving up big skies, superb birding and breathtaking sunsets.

Sheyenne National Grasslands, photo by Dove Day

Explore by Section:

Important North Dakota Notes: When visiting the NCT in North Dakota State Parks, a park entrance pass is required. Learn more on the Parks and Recreation Department’s website (http://www.parkrec.nd.gov/parks/parks.html). Dispersed camping can take place on most federal and state-owned land other than state parks.

Southeastern North Dakota

Lake Ashtabula, photo by Dove Day

MN/ND border to the north end of Lake Ashtabula

Mileage: 191 miles (111 off-road/79 on-road)

Rating: Easy

Need to Know: This area experiences extreme winter weather, with limited shelter options. Camping can be found at designated sites along the trail route and in some towns. Some areas of the Trail have “fence stiles” you will need to climb over. See an example here and another example here.

The Trail: The Trail enters North Dakota on the East at Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site. Upon leaving the Historic Site, the Trail follows a mix of road walk and off road sections with terrain being fairly flat and heading to the town of Walcott. After passing through Walcott the terrain changes with a mix of road walk and off road leading to grasslands, cows, fences, and stiles as the route passes through the Sheyenne National Grassland, making this section one of the most unique hiking experiences along the NCNST. Follow the route of the Sheyenne River heading north to Fort Ransom State Park, Valley City, and Lake Ashtabula Recreation Area.

Notable Locations: 

Get Involved! Trail Maintaining Chapters: Dakota Prairie and Sheyenne River Valley Chapters of the North Country Trail Association

Maps For This Region: 

Central North Dakota

Lonetree Wildlife Management Area, photo by John Day

North end of Lake Ashtabula to the Western end of the McClusky Canal

Mileage: 222 miles (136 off-road/87 on-road)

Rating: Easy

Need to Know: The NCT in this area is routed on gated gravel roads for long distances. Open to horses and biking, Water is available from the Canal or nearby waterbodies but should be treated. Dispersed Camping is allowed along the canal. This area experiences extreme winter weather, with limited shelter options.

The Trail: The North Country National Scenic Trail follows along both the New Rockford and McClusky Canals, which are parts of the larger Garrison Diversion project. The NCT route follows gravel surface roads on one side of the Canals, which pass by several communities that offer hikers lodging, food, etc.  Along the way, NCT users (it’s open to hiking, horseback riding, and biking) will see agricultural fields, native grasslands, pastures, wetlands, and many shallow lakes.  Water is available from in the Canal or in adjacent waterbodies but should be treated. Thirty-two miles of the NCT traverse Lonetree Wildlife Management Area, which was originally intended to be a storage reservoir on the Garrison Diversion project.  Today, Lonetree is the state’s largest WMA and offers a great variety of habitats (e.g. native prairie, restored prairie, woodlands, wetlands, etc.) and outdoor recreation features (e.g. the NCT, campgrounds, fishing).

Notable Locations: 

Get Involved! Trail Maintaining Chapters: There is not currently a Chapter in this area. For information on how to get involved in building the Trail in this area contact NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator Matt Davis at mdavis@northcountrytrail.org

Maps For This Region: 

Western Terminus

Western Terminus, photo by Dove Day

Western end of the McClusky Canal to the Western Terminus in Lake Sakakawea State Park

Mileage: 23 miles (2 off-road/21 on-road)

Rating: Easy

Need to Know: Mostly on-road. This area experiences extreme winter weather, with limited shelter options. Camping is only available at Wolf Creek Campground, in Riverdale, and at LSSP.

The Trail: This section of the NCT is currently a road walk but the NCTA and National Park Service are currently working to obtain permission to route the NCT through Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, Wolf Creek Wildlife Management Area, City of Riverdale, and across the Garrison Dam.

Notable Locations: 

Get Involved! Trail Maintaining Chapters: There is not currently a Chapter in this area. For information on how to get involved in building the Trail in this area contact NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator Matt Davis at mdavis@northcountrytrail.org

Maps For This Region: 

North Dakota Events

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