NEAR WATFORD CITY, N.D. - Another way to see the Badlands is officially open to the public. The Summit Trail was redone and relocated by the U.S Forest Service Dakota Prairie Grasslands about 20 miles south of Watford City this summer. The four-m...
NEAR WATFORD CITY, N.D. - Another way to see the Badlands is officially open to the public.
The Summit Trail was redone and relocated by the U.S Forest Service Dakota Prairie Grasslands about 20 miles south of Watford City this summer. The four-mile trail opened to the public the first week in September.
The trail begins at the Summit Campground right off U.S. Highway 85 at mile post 94. It is a primitive campground without utilities or service. There are signs for the campground to direct you off the highway. It connects with the last part of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, close to the Civilian Conservation Camp on the Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park's North Unit.
The trail project has been in the works for about three years, said Forest Service Coordinator and Grasslands Engineer Curt Glasoe.
Glasoe said the National Environmental Protection Agency finished its environmental assessment last year and the project was contracted, but it got too late in the year to begin construction.
The brand put on mile posts is the Coors beer label brand backwards, he added.
"We started on the trail a year ago in November, but we got weathered out," Glasoe said. "We completed it in late August this year. The Summit Trail, before it was so bad with wash outs and slumps, that we couldn't redo it in same place."
The first Summit Trail was done in the early 1980s.
The new Summit Trail took about a month to construct, and some foliage was cleared away, except a rather large cedar tree.
"It's not official, but we measured the tree and it is 29 inches in diameter," Glasoe said. "We believe it is the biggest cedar tree in the state compared to another in the east, which is 22 inches."
The revamped trail is open to hiking and horseback riding, but not biking. Once on it and about a half mile into the trail, people can see why.
"It's a wilderness area with 200 foot drop offs from the trail, but the grade is flat," Glasoe said. "There's a mini Devil's Pass like the one on the Maah Daah Hey."
The terrain and landscape are spectacular, but can be rough in some spots, he added.
"It's a nice 4-foot trail," Glasoe said. "We rode on horseback when it was halfway done and it took awhile, but on foot it would probably take a couple hours depending on how fast you go."
Dickinson resident Don Mayer also has been on the trail by horseback. He went with family a couple of weeks ago and was quite impressed with it.
"The views are up so high and near the peak of everything, and with the leaves changing you get some phenomenal photos," Mayer said. "For about three-fourths of a mile you are out on an edge the entire way with a 200 feet or so drop, so it's not for anyone nervous about heights or for a green horse."
Mayer has traversed many trails in the state and said the Summit Trail has some of the deepest drop-offs anywhere in North Dakota he's seen.
Glasoe said the biggest challenge was getting everything organized and in line to get a contractor there while the work constructing the trail wasn't difficult.
Also in the works by the agency is the Wolf Trail, which is a loop trail connecting the Maah Daah Hey to the Watford City area. The Maah Daah Hey currently stops short at the southern edge of the national park's north unit.
"The Wolf Trail still needs NEPA approval, but construction could start next summer," Glasoe said. "The NEPA is done on the Maah Daah Hey II Trail, and it is ready to get designed this winter."
The proposed 46-mile Maah Daah Hey II would go south from Sully Creek State Park, where the Maah Daah Hey ends to the Burning Coal Vein Campground near Amidon. Alternatives were proposed to include biking with hiking and horseback riding for the Maah Daah Hey II while the Wolf Trail included those possibilities.
The Dickinson Press and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co. Trail revamped 20071021