This year I completed my first 4k, 15k and half marathon trail running events. I am not sure if I am totally hooked or totally hate them but I think I am hooked. It is a great way to break up the monotony of running in flat Hazen and to have some different traction to run on. We are very lucky to have some excellent, well-cared for paths within a half hour drive from Hazen. I recently ran at both Lake Sakakawea State Park (by Pick City) and at the Knife River Indian Village (by Stanton). Here are my thoughts on each location. Spoiler: I love them both!
First things first, I ran these two locations just a week or two apart. True to North Dakota weather, one day was sunny and gorgeous, the other day was overcast and a bit snowy, but actually still really a nice day in the low 30’s and no wind.
I’ll start with Lake Sakakawea State Park. LSSP is about a half hour drive from Hazen, just on the outskirts of Pick City, right on Sakakawea and by the Garrison Dam. This is a gorgeous part of the state and one I have memories of from driving over many times as a kid. That said, I haven’t been INTO the state park since I was probably a kid? I don’t remember it at all. Entrance fees are an easy $5 and I encourage you to pay that. You can also buy a year pass for a small fee (I think $20). You can park outside the park and walk in to avoid fees but really, support your state park. The park is huge and provides several camping amenities, boat slips, a convenience store during season and more.
My goal was to catch the sunrise and I was right on time. Beautiful. The visitor center was closed when I arrived so I just parked and started out on the marked trails. I didn’t know exactly where I was going, but made it into an adventure.
The paths run along the lake and into wooded areas. I saw so many deer and pheasants. It was exciting and a bit startling to see them jump up just yards away from you.
The changing colors were an added bonus. Obviously, with fall and winter approaching my time might be limited for running on the paths, but I might make it out a time or two again? There are some minor hills throughout and the trails are kept up very nicely.
Onto Knife River Indian Village. This is just a 15 minute drive from Hazen, right outside of Stanton. There is no fee to visit. There is a visitor center and I have been there before. The rangers are great to visit with and willing to answer any questions. It’s incredible to hear about the history and think of the Native Americans that used to live here.
There are a few path options leaving straight from the visitor center. These generally follow along the Knife River. Again, I saw many pheasants and deer. The pheasants in particular scare the crap out of me because they will jump up just a few feet from you to fly away and I never see them until I’m scared!
If you park a few miles up the road you will find access to a few other, longer trails.
The trails at KRIV are generally pretty flat, not much for elevation change. They are kept up well and even in the snow I had no trouble following them. Either location would be great for hikes. I know you can bring your dog with to KRIV as long as it is leashed and you pick up after your pet. I never checked at LSSP but I imagine similar rules apply.
Up next? I have to make it over to Cross Ranch State Park by Hensler/Washburn. Can’t wait to explore a bit more! I love getting outside! I feel very lucky to have close access to these beautiful trails.