“A beautiful hike through rolling grassland hills and hardwood forests.
— Matthew Davis
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked
Easy, out-and-back hiking options.
This section of the NCT leaves Hwy 27 heading north, crosses a fence, and then winds around some tall sand dune hills covered with aspen trees. This section features a few bad blowouts which require tough hiking through the sand—just like at the beach.
The NCT crosses a doubletrack road heading northwest, and it passes by numerous wetlands (look for rare western prairie fringed orchids). It passes just to the west of a solar panel-powered stock watering tank, passes through a fence, and then crosses the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. Look for trains before crossing.
North of the railroad tracks, the NCT continues heading north along a fenceline before turning east through a hardwood tree plantation, crossing an open prairie and then another tree plantation. The NCT swings southeast then turns, heading east-northeast. Look to the north and you can see some taller sand dune hills.
Next, the trail passes through some small aspen groves, crosses some fences, and then passes by some old ghost cottonwood trees before reaching Hwy 53. The trailhead parking is located on the east side of the road and can be accessed by a short spur trail.
Flora & Fauna
This portion of the Sheyenne National Grassland features rolling hills (grass covered sand dunes) and pothole wetlands. Plants include tallgrass prairie grass and forb species and groves of ash, oaks, and aspen trees. Visitors can learn more about wildlife here