IMBA EPIC Ride - Maah Daah Hey, North Dakota

Maah Daah Hey, North Dakota


The Maah Daah Hey is one of the jewels of the North Dakota open space area. Also known as the MDH, this long-distance route is best enjoyed as a multi-day adventure.

The Maah Daah Hey Trail is located between Medora and Watford City, North Dakota, approximately 40 miles from Dickinson Municipal Airport and 140 miles from the state capital of Bismarck. The trail connects the north and south sections of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park across the Little Missouri Grasslands. Mountain bikers are required to ride alternate routes through the sections of the MDH that cross through National Park lands.

For those who plan to support themselves with a vehicle on the Maah Daah Hey, it's best to identify contact points for each days' ride to refuel the group with food and water. This will require some planning ahead to navigate the surrounding rural road system. Most roads are passable by two-wheel drive vehicles, although high-clearance is recommended. Consult a copy of the Little Missouri National Grassland's map for a support vehicle strategy.


There are a handful of water crossings, mostly across smaller creeks throughout the Maah Daah Hey route. There is one major crossing of the Little Missouri River between the Elkhorn and Magpie campgrounds. The water level depends on the time of year and recent rainfall.

As it follows the Little Missouri, the trail blends difficult climbs up the bentonite buttes with challenging downhills. Beautiful vistas abound.


The Maah Daah Hey is a shared-use trail, enjoyed by cyclists, equestrians and hikers. However, due to its remoteness, it requires total self-sufficiency.

Food and drink

Be prepared with your own water, food and maps.

More details

The route described here follows the Maah Daah Hey from south to north, through established campgrounds.

The MDH is broken down into five sections, each anchored by campgrounds along the route: Buffalo Gap to Wannagan, Wannagan to Elkhorn, Elkhorn to Magpie, Magpie to Bennett, Bennet to CCC.

1. Buffalo Gap to Wannagan

Start at the Buffalo Gap campground and ride generally northeast following the buffalo-head posts. This section of the Maah Daah Hey EPIC is a great way to start as it is open and rolling through wide open territory. Closer to Wannagan there is one creek crossing that may require portage. A short connector trail accesses the Wannagan campground from the main trail.

2. Wannagan to Elkhorn

Climb up on the Wannagan connector and stay left to continue the MDH north. This section to Elkhorn climbs and descends through several drainages, crossing small mesa-tops along the way.

3. Elkhorn to Magpie

The Elkhorn to Magpie section includes the crossing of the Little Missouri River. If water levels are high, consider a long vehicle shuttle around to the east side of the river. This part of the MDH also includes a longer climb along a ridge to Devil's Pass, an area that has awesome 360-degree views of the badlands landscape.

4. Magpie to Bennett

Riding from Magpie to Bennet will take you out of the painted buttes and back into the grassland. Settle in for some nice riding through wide-open meadows surrounded by small mesas. Stay right on Bennett Creek to access the Bennett campground.

5. Bennett to CCC

Bennett to CCC campground is the northern-most part of the MDH. It's also the most rugged with climbs, descents and more unrefined singletrack. The China Wall crossing is especially scenic, traveling through some unique geology. This section approaching the northern unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park requires a detour that can be hard to find. Check with the National Park Service or a local shop before riding this part of the MDH.

Some of the information on this page has been sourced from:

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125.325 km / 77.873 mi

Total Distance

2,214 m / 7,262 ft

Total Ascent

2,373 m / 7,786 ft

Total Descent

819 m / 2,686 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Expert (Double Black)
Ride Duration: Multi-day
Fitness Level: Various
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Gravel Road
Trail Signage: Average
Mobile Coverage: Limited
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle
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