The Maah Daah Hey Trail is more than 140 miles long, and it stretches from the CCC Campground near Watford City to the Burning Coal Vein Campground 30 miles South of Medora.
This weekend, more than forty volunteers from the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association donated their time near the Buffalo Gap portion of the trail near Medora for National Trails Day.
“I suppose I have been coming out over the last five or six years. I have missed a couple, but I try to get out every year, ” said Frank Kutka, volunteer from Dickinson,
Curtis Glasoe, President of Maah Daah Hey Trail Association, said trails day is the where the public supplies their share of the grant(Recreational Trails Program).
Funding for maintenance of the trail comes from the Recreational Trails Program; it is an 80/20 matching grant program that provides funding for both motorized and non-motorized recreational trail projects.
Eighty percent is supplied by the Federal Highway Administration, 15 percent is from the forest service, and five percent comes from volunteer organizations like the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association, who perform in-kind maintenance.
On Saturday, the association and the forest service performed maintenance on the trail to address trenches caused from users and erosion.
The trenches can fill with water or become so deep that they force bike users or hikers to stray outside of the trail.
The volunteers treated portions of the trail near Buffalo Gap with fresh gravel to smooth it out and create a solid foundation for trail users.
“It also helps identify where the trail is, and it stops trail braiding, which happens when trail users pick separate paths,” said Greg Morel, Dakota Prairie Grasslands Trail Coordinator for the U.S Forest Service.
The volunteers also said that the treatment of the area will prevent trail users from getting lost.
“It disappears in some places where people don’t use it, so its easy to come out here and get lost,” said Tom Tudor, volunteer from Bismarck.
Kutka said there have been times when he has gotten lost on the trail.
“Gotten off into the sage and scratched my head a little bit, but I eventually find it”.
The trail goes through the U.S. Forest Service land in the Little Missouri Grasslands and parts of Theodore Roosevelt National park, and Morel said he appreciates the volunteers efforts.
“We really rely on our volunteers throughout the forest service, but specifically on the trails program”.
The Maah Daah Hey Trail Association volunteers said they are more than willing to spend a day on the trail.
“Its so quiet an peaceful. . . . and just beautiful, ” said Tudor.