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National Recreation Trails Database


Trail Description Continued

The term Maah-Daah-Hey comes from the Mandan Indian language meaning Grandfather and the trail symbol of a Turtle comes from the Lakota Indians meaning long life, and patience.

The MDH Trail came into being as a three-partner effort with the North Dakota State Park and Recreation Dept., Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) and the United States Forest Service (FS). Construction of the 96-mile long MDHT started in 1995 and was completed in 1999.

The trail traverses the Badlands of southwestern North Dakota, of which, 77 miles are in the Little Missouri National Grasslands (LMNG), 11 miles in the TRNP, 6 miles through State Lands and 2 miles through private lands. This area is full of unique geological formations and cultural resources. Native Americans used the area for annual hunting trips from the surrounding prairie. The MDH Trail passes by Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch site on the Little Missouri River as well as General Sully's Trail and the CCC Historical Site. The trail was purposely located away from the roads, oil wells, and other impacts of civilization. The trail lies lightly on the land and the grade was kept to 8% over most of the location. This was done to keep maintenance at a minimum while providing an excellent experience for a variety of users.

Since its inception, the MDHT has become recognized as a premier non-motorized trail and has been featured in many national publications. The FS has groups volunteering to adopt portions of the trail and the MDHT Association was formed to help maintain the trail. Other volunteer groups include the International Mountain Bike Association, which hosted an Epic Ride in 2001.

The MDHT is the backbone of our recreation program on the LMNG, 4 new campgrounds were constructed along the trail and 2 others were upgraded to provide for the needs of our growing number of trail users. The partnerships forged during the development of the trail continue today. The FS receives funds from the Recreational Trails Program administered by the State Park and Rec. Dept. augmenting our trail maintenance program.


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This website provides access to the National Recreation Trail (NRT) database, a collection of information on the various trails which have been designated as NRT's. These trails are located throughout the United States and U.S. territories. The amount of information may vary from trail to trail. If you need more information than is available on this site, please use the contact(s) listed for that trail. (If no contacts, are listed, you may request help from American Trails at

The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails:


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