ElevationAscent: 1,040' 317 m
Descent: -1,039' -317 m
High: 2,444' 745 m
Low: 1,955' 596 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 34% (19°)
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“Abundant diversity in an moderate loop.”— ktboundary Thompson
This trail does end up running a significant portion along the park Scenic road, which detracts from the solitude of nature. Also, the trail runs by the water treatment ponds for the campgrounds.
Because the Cannonball Concretions parking lot is close to the campground, it is the recommended starting point. Begin by following the trail to the trailhead register and sign in. follow the trail up and down small ravines and across the prairie. The head down into a larger drainage, hop a small creek and continue towards the Scenic road. The trail take a turn to the right and west and heads up and embankment. Follow the trail until reaching a trail marker and take a right no the north to the prairie dog town.
Hike a flat open prairie where bison frequent through the prairie dog towns. Head down into the wide valley and follow the trail through tall sagebrush. The trail then heads east across another small stream and up into a large treed valley. The trail is hard to follow occasionally and keeping your eye open for orange and pink ribbons helping to mark the trail will keep you on the right path.
The trail then begins a large climb winding through trees and rock formations before finally reaching the high prairie plateau. Again, continue to look ahead for trail markers and bison and cross the prairie until the trail takes a left turn and heads down into another valley system on the opposite side of the plateau.
This section is characterized by steep descents with a trail that is pockmarked with bison hoof prints. Watch your footing and also for tree branches at head height. Continue down until reaching a small stream, cross, and follow the trail on the left of the creek. Descend on a sharp spine to the bottom and cross to the right side of the next stream. The trail has slumped off the hill here and is not as obvious.
The trail winds around going up and down, passing badlands formations before finally reaching the Scenic road and the alternate parking lot. Stay on the right side of the road and follow the trail along the road. After cresting the rise, cross the road to continue on the trail down to sagebrush flats.
Pick the best trail through the flats along the river, trying to follow the markers. Cross a gravel service road and down into another section of sagebrush flats before climbing a small hill and passing a couple of small ponds. Then pass by the water treatment ponds for the park campground until a service road is reached. Take the service road to the Scenic road and Cannonball Concretions parking lot.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, History & Background
Land Manager: NPS - Theodore Roosevelt