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North Dakota State Parks has a variety of scenic hiking trails. Their Hiking Challenge is an excellent way get acquainted with some unique places in the state, such as this section of the famed Maah Daah Hey Trail in Sully Creek State Park. [Photo: submitted]
North Dakota State Parks has a variety of scenic hiking trails. Their Hiking Challenge is an excellent way get acquainted with some unique places in the state, such as this section of the famed Maah Daah Hey Trail in Sully Creek State Park. [Photo: submitted]

Step into the Outdoors

Kim Fundingsland
 March 13, 2022
 •

State Parks Hiking Challenge

BISMARCK — It is a terrific way to step into some of the most scenic places in all of North Dakota, enjoy some quality family time, and reap the health benefits of hiking in the outdoors. North Dakota State Parks has brought back it’s Hiking Challenge for 2022.

“We’re trying to get people to become more active outdoors, see the beauty of the State Park system, and get them to visit a State Park in their own backyard,” said Josh Steffan, ND State Parks.

Last year was the initial Hiking Challenge promoted by State Parks, and people loved it. Participation was very high, much greater than anticipated, with over 400 enthusiastic hikers completing the highest goal – 12 hikes in 12 months.

“It’s really pretty cool,” said Glee Mayer, Minot. “It was a lot of fun. There was some really cool medallions if you finished it. It’s really gotten people out to the state parks, for sure.”

This trail through Icelandic State Park is one of the hidden gems on the list of trails for this year’s Hiking Challenge. [Photo: submitted]

There is no cost to participate in the Hiking Challenge, other than having an annual vehicle permit which is accepted at all State Parks. Hikers can do any number of hikes the choose. Leashed pets are allowed too. Prizes are awarded based on the number of qualifying hikes and the number of State Parks visited. Further information can be found on the ND State Parks website at www.parkrec.nd.gov.

“If a person completes all 12 hikes they get a completion medal – gold, silver, or bronze, depending on how many State Parks they visited,” said Steffan. “Every State Park is included this year. All hikers are registered into a drawing for an annual permit. It’s for everybody.”

A year ago hikers were asked to complete certain trails within a two-week period. That has changed this year from a 14-day window to an entire month. Mayer is one of the veteran hikers who welcomed the change.

“Last year that two-week time limit became problematic. Now you’ve got a whole month. Each park has designated trails to get credit,” said Mayer.

Each trailhead is marked with a sign or starting post. All a hiker has to do to is hold a cell phone up to a QR code to be automatically registered in the Hiking Challenge.”

A trailhead at Beaver Lake State Park. Note the convenient QR code on the sign for hikers to scan with their phones, a simple and easy way to register for any trails included in the Hiking Challenge. [Photo: submitted]

“Last year I did it. It was just great to get to all the parks,” said Mark Zimmerman, Bismarck. “I got in 11 of the 12 hikes but hope to get all 12 this year. I think it’s a great program. It was great to see families on the trails enjoying it.”

While introducing people to State Parks, and what they have to offer, is part of the reasoning behind the Hiking Challenge, there’s another aspect too. That's stepping into scenic wonderment that many, even long-time North Dakota residents, didn’t know existed. Hikers will not only get some fresh air and pleasant exercise, but they’ll see sights they’ve never seen before and come away with a special appreciation for what North Dakota has to offer.

The rugged beauty of Little Missouri State Park is just one of the many opportunities to see North Dakota while participating in the State Park’s Hiking Challenge this year. [Photo: submitted]

Below is a list of qualifying trails for this year’s State Parks Hiking Challenge. 

Also, State Parks has created a checklist to help you keep track and learn more about each trail. 

  1. Rolling Prairie Loop, Beaver Lake State Park, Distance: 0.87 miles 
  1. Matah “River” Trail, Cross Ranch State Park, Distance: 2.9 miles 
  1. Ma-ak-oti “Old Village” Trail, Cross Ranch State Park, Distance: 4.2 miles 
  1. Bloody Knife Loop, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Distance: 1.97 miles 
  1. Young Hawk Interpretive Trail, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Distance: 1.1 miles 
  1. Little Twig Trail, Fort Ransom State Park, Distance: 0.94 miles 
  1. White Tail Loop, Fort Ransom State Park, Distance: 0.46 miles 
  1. Flicker Loop, Fort Stevenson State Park, Distance: 1 mile 
  1. Northern Pine Loop, Fort Stevenson State Park, Distance: The Loop is 0.25 mile from Visitor Center on Flicker Trail, Loop 2.22 miles, Total 2.72 miles 
  1. Sivert Thompson Loop, Grahams Island State Park, Distance: 1.6 miles 
  1. Hillman Trail, Icelandic State Park, Distance: 0.75 miles 
  1. Basswood Trail, Icelandic State Park, Distance: 0.6 miles 
  1. Tenderfoot Trail, Lake Metigoshe State Park, Distance: Begin at the Warming House Trailhead, 3.31 miles round trip 
  1. Hemerick Point Trail, Lake Metigoshe State Park, Distance: Begin at the Warming House Trailhead, 2.3 miles round trip 
  1. Overlook Trail, Lake Sakakawea State Park, Distance: 0.36 miles 
  1. North Trail System, Lewis & Clark State Park, Distance: 2.6 miles 
  1. South Trail System, Lewis & Clark State Park, Distance: 2.6 miles 
  1. I Trail, Little Missouri State Park (Open seasonally May-October), 2.25 miles 
  1. Maah Daah Hey Trail, Sully Creek State Park, Start at the Sully Creek Trailhead to explore a portion of the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail. 
  1. Moosehead Trail (from Chalet Trailhead), Turtle River State Park, Distance: 1.31 miles 
  1. Hollows River/Hollows Ridge Loop (from the Visitor Center Trailhead), Turtle River State Park, Distance: 1.74 miles 

 
List of Bonus Trails 

  1. Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area, Distance: Over 30 miles of trails available. Choose your own adventure starting from the trailhead. 
  1. Roughrider Trail (from Fort Rice Trailhead 20 miles south of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park), Distance: 16 miles of trail available 
  1. Turtle Mountain State Recreation Area, Distance: Explore any trail you wish. Suggested loop is 2.4 miles round trip from the trailhead to Old Baldy Overlook. 
kim.fundingsland@mydakotan.com

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