Over Labor Day weekend this year I knew I wanted to go on a little adventure. I was hoping for a fun ladies weekend but that didn’t come together. Instead, I decided I would just adventure on my own. I wanted to head for the hills and hit some trails. I’ve really fallen in love with trail running. Well, if you can call it that. In ND, we don’t have much for trails or hills. However, the western part of the state boasts the most elevation change. I’ve been to the southern part of the Badlands many times and have hiked and ran the Maah Daah Hey trail in that area. I decided to go more north and visit Little Missouri State Park on Saturday morning right around sunrise.
Hazen is in central time while LMSP is on mountain time. With the time change and sunrise a bit earlier there, I was able to sleep in and I left home about 6 a.m. to arrive at the park at 7:30, or 6:30 MT, just after the sun was peeking over the hills. I am ashamed to say I haven’t visited LMSP after living here for several years. I was really missing out!
This is a public recreation area north of Killdeer about 20 miles. The park is over 4,500 acres along the Little Missouri River and the river’s confluence with our state’s great lake – Lake Sakakawea. The park has over 45 miles of trails!! These trails are specifically for hikers, runners, bird watchers and horses. No motorbikes, ATVs or even pedal bikes are allowed. I entered the trail system at the State Campground which was marked and easy to find. There is plenty of room for guests to park their campers and put up their horses. There were a lot of horses there and it looks like you could easily go on a trail ride if you didn’t have your own horse.
Since I was alone, my Mom was very worried about me. I was sure to take along a map and my cell phone and let her know when I started and promised to text or call upon my return. I was surprised to have cell service and even wifi at the campground. There were a few spots on the trail I could get service, but mostly I couldn’t and that was OK. I recommend just enjoying nature. To be honest, I can’t really read a map. I took off and just tried to remember landmarks and take photos along the way. The nice thing about hiking in ND is that every trail will lead somewhere, you aren’t too likely to get totally lost. With 45+ miles of trails though, I still wanted to be careful. Also – I loved seeing the different plants like those cool cactus’s below.
I set out thinking I’d do some double digit mileage in the 2 hour time frame I allotted myself. I ended up covering 8 miles in those two hours and that includes running, hiking up hills and stopping for some photos of course. I saw deer and birds but nothing else in the way of wild game. Plenty of horses were at the campground but I didn’t encounter any horse or horse rider while I was out there. I did get to see the leaves just beginning to change, I imagine in a few weeks it’ll be so pretty there.
When I got out on the trails and started running, my heart rate MUST have been high. I was so happy to be there in such a beautiful wide open space. The hills are stunning and the views incredible. It is hard to believe this is the same flat ND most people think of. There was a bit of haze in the air due to Montana wildfires but not too bad.
During the oil boom, I heard there was some impact on the park due to oil drilling in the Killdeer area. That has since died down but I did see signs on the very edge of the park leading towards drilling activity. There was no traffic or any other trouble I encountered.
I worked up quite the sweat – I went down twice and up three times covering quite a bit of hills. For sure I needed a shower and I was happy to see the campground had showers. $0.50 for a 4 minute shower or $1.00 for 8 minutes. I was hesitant but the showers were well kept and clean. I splurged for the $1 fee and that was more than enough time. I sat in the sun awhile to bug off some free wifi and drink water and have a snack before I headed out to do some more exploring in Dickinson. 10/10 would go back to the park to explore more areas. Maybe with someone who is more familiar with a map than I am. The park operates April 1 – Oct 31.
If anything, this was a great chance to see my state, get in some outdoor fun and check something off the bucket list.