One of the highlights of our time in North Dakota back in 2013 was mountain biking part of the well-known Maah Daah Hey trail. Here's our blog post from that day. Although our single-track skills are not very advanced (understatement of the year award!), we hoped to tackle a bit more of the trail on this visit, and Barry especially wanted to ride more of the Buffalo Gap Trail, which intersects the Maah Daah Hey.
Despite our best intentions, this was one of those days where every attempt ended up being thwarted.
We first rode our mountain bikes over from the Cottonwood Campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park to Sully Creek State Park south of Medora. The section south of town has some pretty serious climbs, but our research had shown that we could pick up the newest section of the Maah Daah Hey (nicknamed "the Deuce") there.
When we arrived at Sully Creek State Park, we first took some photos and rode a short, easy section of the trail until it got way too sandy, approaching the river.
We did find the trailhead for the ""Deuce", but with the grasses grown up high on either side of the narrow trail and an immediate plunging descent which we couldn't see the bottom of, we quickly determined that at least this section of trail was above our skill and comfort level.
So, we retreated back to Medora and thought we'd ride some of the trail we'd done on our first visit. That part is easily accessible from the road on the western end of Medora.
Starting out, the trail was just as we remembered and not impossible for us. We tackled a couple of small creek crossings when, around the next bend, we saw a larger creek and some cattle blocking the way. We stopped and watched for a few minute as more and more cows came around the bend of the trail up ahead. Ultimately, they decided to graze and bathe right in our path, and we didn't feel comfortable proceeding, so we turned around and backtracked the short distance back to Medora.
If you checked out the link to our previous ride on the Maah Daah Hey in fall of 2013, you'll note this exact creek crossing. Same bike, same blue jersey even! Some things never change. Including our sense of adventure -- or insanity; you be the judge.
Our final attempt to get a little mountain biking in was to take a short stretch of I-94 over to access the Buffalo Gap Trail a bit farther north. In North Dakota, bicycling on the interstates is allowed because there are so few paved roads. And the shoulder is huge. We had ridden a short distance on the interstate on our previous trip here, actually. But this time, it was not to be. We got up the ramp, but there was major construction on this section of I-94 and thus not enough road shoulder for us to ride safely, so once again, we were forced to turn back.
All in all, we ended up with over 25 miles of riding but most of those were pavement miles; definitely NOT what we'd planned for the day. But that's the way things go sometimes, and at least we managed to have fun and maintain fitness, despite the obstacles!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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