hiking and wildlife viewing

Best Spots for Day Hiking in North Dakota

Get out on the trails for some exercise, beautiful scenery and wildlife viewing.

North Dakota’s great outdoors await. Thousands of miles of hiking trails crisscross the state, including the Maah Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota’s Badlands and North Country Trail, stretching from eastern to central North Dakota. From state parks to local walking paths, there are uncrowded and scenic places to soak up the sun and enjoy nature, beautiful views and lots of watchable wildlife.

While planning your next getaway check out these top spots for day hiking in North Dakota.

Click here for 13 of the top hiking and biking trails in North Dakota

Parks and Historic Sites 

Hiking in Cross Ranch

Cross Ranch State Park
Located 12 miles southeast of Hensler and situated along the west bank of the Missouri River, the 589-acre Cross Ranch State Park and adjacent 6,000-acre Cross Ranch Nature Preserve are one of the few areas in North Dakota to offer a true primitive outdoor experience. Over 16 miles of trail wind through Cross Ranch State Park and Nature Preserve. Trail posts identify the trail names.

Lake Metigoshe State Park
Home to North Dakota's first National Recreation Trail, the park is Nestled in the scenic Turtle Mountains on the shores of Lake Metigoshe. Located 16 miles northeast of Bottineau, Lake Metigoshe State Park is one of the most popular year-round vacation spots in North Dakota. There is 3 miles of hiking, and 12 miles of multi-use trails available.

Icelandic State Park

Icelandic State Park
Located 5 miles west of Cavalier on ND Highway 5, Icelandic has over four miles of trails that wind through the park and the historic 200-acre Gunlogson Nature Preserve. The majority of this four-mile trail system is groomed and open in the winter for cross-country skiing as well. The Cavlandic trail runs from the city of Cavalier to Icelandic State Park. The trail is 6.5 miles one way and provides users access to a number of amenities in the city of Cavalier.

Turtle River State Park
Located 22 miles west of Grand Forks on US Highway 2, Turtle River State Park has a system of mountain biking, hiking, and interpretive trails. Winter users will find more than 7.5 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, and plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Located 7 miles south of Mandan on ND Hwy 1806, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park's non-motorized trail system covers approximately 19 miles in a series of loops and several connecting segment trails that are open for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Most of the trail system surface is either grass, dirt or hard-packed single-track, with manageable grades with only a few steeper sections.

Lake Sakakawea

Lake Sakakawea State Park
Located 1 mile north of Pick City, the park is the terminus of the North Country National Scenic Trail which stretches 4,800 miles from Vermont to Lake Sakakawea State Park. Several multi-use trails in the park are perfect for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Hikers are encouraged to take in the scenic beauty of the completed segments of the North Country National Scenic Trail found in this park.

Fort Ransom

Fort Ransom State Park
Located 30 miles south of Valley City, Fort Ransom State Park’s non-motorized trail system covers over 20 miles in a series of loops, trails and connecting segment trails most which are multi-use and are open for hiking, horseback riding, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The majority of the trail system surface is either grass, dirt or hard-packed single-track, with manageable grades with only a few steeper sections.

Little Missouri State Park
Located 19 miles north of Killdeer, Little Missouri State Park has over 40 miles of trails in the park open to horseback riding and hiking. Visitors should check with park staff about current trail conditions as they can vary depending on weather conditions. They can be reached at 701-764-5256.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
Located 1/2 mile north of Stanton. Walk down the Village Trail (1.3 mi) and see the remains of the Awatixa Xi'e Village (Lower Hidatsa Site) and Awatixa Village (Sakakawea Site). There is a loop at the second village site that includes a walk along the Knife River. Hike the North Forest Trail loop (2.2 mi) through bottomland forest and native prairie. Continue onto the Missouri overlook loop (2.8 mi) for spectacular views of the Missouri River. Upon entering the forest, you can also choose to walk 0.1 miles on the Big Hidatsa Trail to the Hidatsa Village. Hike the Two Rivers Trail (6.2 mi) that follows the Knife River to the south end of the park. At the southern tip of the trail, you can see where the Knife River flows into the Missouri River.

Fort Union Trading Post

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Located 24 miles southwest of Williston. Tour through history as you explore Fort Union Trading Post NHS.

TRNP Hiking

Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit
The North Unit is located near Watford City and the South Unit is located by Medora. Take in breathtaking views, natural wonders and watchable wildlife along hundreds of miles of trails in the North and South Units.

Wildlife Refuges

Wildlife refuge in Devils Lake

All 63 national wildlife refuges in North Dakota have opportunities for wildlife observation on interpretive foot trails. For more information, please call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 701-250-4418.


North Country National Scenic Trail
The North Country Trail follows the shores of Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon and continues along the Garrison Diversion Project canals. Reaching the Sheyenne River, the trail route loops northward to Fort Totten State Historic Site near Devils Lake. Returning to the Sheyenne River, the trail follows its scenic forested valley southward to Fort Ransom State Park and Sheyenne State Forest. The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

Maah Daah Hey Trail
This 144-mile non-motorized trail is open for biking, hiking and horseback riding. The trail runs from the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Watford City through the Little Missouri National Grasslands and Medora to its southern terminus near Amidon. The U.S. Forest Service, (701-225-5151) jointly manages the Trail with the National Park Service (701-623-4466) and the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (701-328-5357).

Sheyenne National Grassland
Located ND Highway 27 east of Lisbon, it is the only National Grassland in the tallgrass prairie region of the United States and provides habitat for greater prairie chickens in North Dakota as well as several other sensitive species. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, hunting, camping, horseback riding, photography, and backpacking.

Denbigh trail

Denbigh Experimental Forest
Located southwest of Denbigh, this 3-mile loop winds through a forest featuring over 40 species of trees and sections of open prairie – the trail is excellent for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Bison Plant Trail
Located just east of the Minot, this 2.3-mile loop trail features scenery and beautiful foliage and is perfect for running, hiking, and biking all year round. Leashed dogs are allowed.

The Greenway
Located in Grand Forks, the Greenway offers year-round outdoor recreation and features several parks, a campground, two golf courses, three disc golf courses, over 20 miles of multi-purpose trails, shore bank fishing sites, and so much more!

Minot outdoor recreation area

Minot Outdoor Recreation Area
This beautiful spot is the perfect place to go hiking or biking on 5 total miles of trails and 2 miles of accessible paved and gravel trails featuring diverse native plants and animals.

Summer Only

Little Missouri National Grasslands

Little Missouri National Grassland
Located off US Hwy 85 north and south of Belfield. Enjoy over 8 hiking trails. There is ample camping, space for horseback riding and bicycling.

Turtle Mountain State Forest
The Turtle Mountain State Forest, located in the western Turtle Mountain region of Bottineau County, encompasses over 7,500 acres of pristine forests, wetlands, and grasslands. Recreation areas include Hahn's Bay Recreation Area, Strawberry Lake Recreation Area, Twisted Oaks Equestrian Campground, and Mystical Horizons Scenic Overlook. The forest contains 18 miles of multi-use, non-motorized trails and 10 miles of ATV Trails.