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Old 06-25-07, 03:50 PM   #1
Peek the Geek
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Anyone biked the Maah Daah Hey trail?

Or done any tours with Western Spirit Cycling Adventures?

A friend and I are considering a tour of the Maah Daah Hey trail in the Badlands of North Dakota, and I'd like to pick the brains of anyone here who has ridden the trail or toured with the above company.

I spent a couple of days dayhiking/driving in the Badlands of South Dakota, but I've never seen North Dakota's version, so I'm not sure how the geography compares.
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Old 05-29-08, 03:02 PM   #2
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Maybe I'm going to do so next month; that's why I was curious about answers and experiences. And checked the item...
Maybe now someone can tell something?

Thanks, Arie
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Old 05-29-08, 07:14 PM   #3
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north dakota's is a lot more rugged and barren than south dakotas. I have only done the 11 mile loop out of medora but it is a lot of fun, not real technical but enough to keep things interesting. Bring plenty of water as there is no shade and it gets hotter than most realize during the summer months.
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Old 05-29-08, 08:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peek the Geek View Post
A friend and I are considering a tour of the Maah Daah Hey trail in the Badlands of North Dakota, and I'd like to pick the brains of anyone here who has ridden the trail or toured with the above company.
.
Myself and a couple of friends are thinking of driving down there to ride them, would love to know what they are like too.
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Old 08-05-08, 10:49 AM   #5
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Late late bump, but if anyone still wonders, the Maah Daah Hey trail is a mostly endurance and concentration ride. I'll disagree with the other poster and say the North Dakota badlands aren't as barren, but there are far fewer visitors.

The trail itself is fairly smooth singletrack. No roots or rocks here. Lots of rolling hills, and with the topography, there's no shortage of short but steep climbs.

What makes the trail fun?
-Solitude. Don't be surprised if you don't see anyone most days of your trip.
-100 miles of singletrack (if you like stuff that flows, this is for you)
-Landscape that you won't find anywhere else
-5 days of uninterrupted riding away from it all

What makes the trip/trail difficult?
-Getting there; I'm guessing 99.8% of Americans are an 8 hour drive or farther from the place
-Stupid Nat'l Parks rule that makes you bypass the northern part of the trail
-Logistics if you want to ride from one end to the other. Getting camp gear from one spot to the next (Dakota Cyclery's shuttle service solves this though)
-Solitude. If something goes bad and you're alone, you're stuck
-As often mentioned, rain will complicate things in a hurry
-Ticks in early summer. By the thousands and thousands. Creeped me out. Couldn't stop for a minute without finding one on you and when we got to camp, you could see them moving in masses on the ground. Dozens of them on our camp gear when we got to camp.
-Depending on when you go, it gets really hot out there. The temperature may be 89 in Medora, but on a hilltop in the direct sun on the MDH, I've had two different thermometers read 120+. You're riding pretty exposed as there are few places with shade and no water except for the occasional cattle stock tank that may have non-potable water.
-Carrying enough water. On a hot day, it's easy to empty 140oz between campgrounds where the wells are. Definitely take a Camelbak and at least 2 bottles if it's a warm day on the trail.
-Some of those wells are often high in sulfur. Hard to stomach and no amount of drink mix covers it up.
-Those cattle that drink from the stock tanks tend to create their own trails, often right alongside the MDH trail and the 2 or sometimes 3 trails alongside each other become impossible to distinguish. You can easily get sidetracked on what you think is the trail. If you ride for 10-15 minutes and don't see the next trail marker in the distance, time to turn around.
-Those cow paths or the trail (you never know which) can become deeply rutted due to rainwater runoff. Our group had a few people, including myself, get caught in those.

The negative list is longer, but it doesn't outweigh the positives if you have the time to do it.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info, Shemp. Never too late for a bump, especially if the post is as useful as yours.

The Western Spirit Maah Daah Hey trip I signed up for last year got cancelled (not enough people signed up), so we went to The Maze area of Utah instead. I'm still interested in riding the MDH someday, though.

So how is Dakota Cyclery's shuttle service? Do they help out a lot with the planning and logistics? I'd be interested in a good ways to do the whole trail.
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Old 08-05-08, 10:19 PM   #7
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You show up in Medora, throw your gear in one of their trailers and your bike on the rack. They drop you off at the top and they drop the trailer with your gear off at the campground. You ride to the campground, camp, repack the trailer and ride to the next campground. They pick up the trailer and drop it off at the next and so on.

The only drawback is you miss the northern most section since they don't want to get in trouble for setting you on the trail where you'd have to illegally ride through the Northern Unit of TRNP. Again, due to a ridiculous Parks rule. I love our Park system, but some of these moronic rules are maddening (the trail barely enters the park in an insanely remote area, so make an exception for pete's sake).

Since Dakota Cyclery shuttles you to the beginning and they haul your gear daily, there's no need for further logistics planning.

Even though Western Spirit goes 5 days, they cut out a lot of miles judging by their description.
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