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Petrified Trail Loop

Intermediate
 4.5 (11) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This loop combines the North Petrified Forest Trail, Maah Daah Hey, & South Petrified Forest Trail.


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Map Key

10.6

Miles

17.1

KM

Loop

2,711' 826 m

High

2,419' 737 m

Low

601' 183 m

Up

592' 180 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Views · Wildlife

Overview

This loop combines the North Petrified Forest Trail, Maah Daah Hey, and South Petrified Forest Trail to form a 10.5-mile loop. Most of the trail, including the entire portion along the Maah Daah Hey, is through prairie grassland. The trail can be extremely slick in places if it's rained recently.

Need to Know

There is almost no shade and no reliable water source. Some of the trail markers have been broken, but the trail is well worn and easy to follow.

Description

The trailhead for this hike cannot be reached from the main road through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. To get there from Medora, go west on I-94 then take exit 23. Go north along Forest Service Road 730 and follow the signs for the Petrified Forest. You'll pass a private road sign, but you have permission to continue. Continue on this road until you reach Road 730-2. Turn right then take the first left. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended as the road can have large ruts and potholes.

There's about a 175-foot ascent in the first half mile of the trail which is the second largest climb along the route. The North Petrified Forest Trail portion is the most strenuous portion of the loop and contains the most elevation change. There's a 300-foot descent then immediately a 300-foot ascent just before meeting the Maah Daah Hey trail. The Maah Daah Hey portion is almost entirely flat open grassland. The South Petrified Forest Trail is also mostly flat open grassland except for the area where the petrified wood is located.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers, prairie grasses, bison, wild horses, deer, and rabbits.

History & Background

The petrified wood collection is one of the largest in the country. The north trail has the larger concentration of petrified wood.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Theodore Roosevelt

Shared By:

Ethan Martinson

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes

#1

in South Unit

#1045

Overall
  4.5 from 11 votes
5 Star
64%
4 Star
27%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in South Unit

#2

in North Dakota

#1,045

Overall
194 Views Last Month
6,225 Since Oct 15, 2016
Intermediate

0%
15%
69%
0%
15%
0%

Photos

6ft petrified stump located on the North Petrified Forest Trail.
Jun 3, 2018 near Medora, ND
Petrified stump, 60 million years old.
Mar 2, 2021 near Medora, ND
Petrified Cypress trees.
Jan 17, 2016 near Medora, ND
Petrified wood along the North Petrified Forest Trail.
Oct 15, 2016 near Medora, ND
Petrified wood stumps along the North Petrified Trail.
Oct 15, 2016 near Medora, ND
Beautiful view of TRNP from the trail.
Jan 17, 2016 near Medora, ND

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Check-Ins

Mar 2, 2021
Greg Hurley
The loop was beautiful and the trail was dry. 10.5mi — 5h 00m
Aug 15, 2020
Brooke Rekus
Went to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, saw the badlands and stayed in Medora in a cute western town
Jul 27, 2020
Jeanne Uehling
Very wide open trail with little or no shade. Bring water and sunscreen. Petrified forest sections at beginning/end and prairie in between. 10.6mi — 5h 00m
Jul 3, 2020
Caroline Ulczycki
Jun 27, 2020
Andy Seals
May 28, 2020
Jamie K
Great hike, tons to see, did not disappoint for bison viewing! 10.6mi — 5h 20m
May 22, 2020
Kris Hallan
Nice trail. Some down then up in the North section. Could easily cutoff a couple miles from the Mah Dah Hey section if we traveled across the grass. 10.1mi — 4h 23m
Aug 2, 2019
Joshua Peterson
Snacks and lunch totaled 1hr. 10.6mi — 6h 33m