A bucket list ride for Mountain Bikers – Legendary biking on North Dakota’s Maah Daah Hey trail
MEDORA, N.D. — For mountain bikers, North Dakota’s Maah Daah Hey Trail is such a treasure that people come from all over to experience it.
I drove with friends more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to ride 100-plus miles (160 km) of the single-track trail, which is no wider than a bike. And we weren’t the only non-Dakotans traveling long distances to do it. We met folks from Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Denver, Montana and Wyoming.
The MDH is located where the Great Plains meet the Badlands. To use North Dakota’s state slogan, it’s legendary. It connects the northern and southern units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the western part of the state.
With elevation changes of over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), only the fiercest of athletes complete the trail in one day, usually for the annual MDH 100 race (this year, Aug. 5). We opted for a multi-day, self-supported trip. That’s the essence of bikepacking — or backpacking by bike.
Within the first hour of leaving the northern trailhead, we knew we’d be tested by the rugged landscape. The unrelenting climbs, sheer cliffs along the exposed layers of the Badlands, switchback descents and grassy plateaus with panoramic views were going to be our repeating scenery for three days.