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Maah Daah, Hey?: Almost 200 miles of trail to be set for western North Dakota

Press Photo by Royal McGregor This section of hillside has been craved out to create a path for the Deuce, the newest part of the Maah Daah Hey Trail shown above Wednesday. The trail runs south of Medora to Burning Coal Vein.1 / 2
Press Photo by Royal McGregor A post lets hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders know where the trail is located.2 / 2

When there's almost 200 miles of trail to maintain it can be a daunting task.

Maah Daah Hey Trail Association President Don Mayer is staying optimistic that the trail can be get back to where it was two years ago.

"With the landslides hitting, we've got about 50 percent well rehabbed," said Mayer, who had has been the trail president for the last six years. "Another 25 percent need more work and the other 25 percent need a lot of work. A person certainly has to be more cautious out there."

The Maah Daah Hey Trail runs from Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit up to the North Unit, which, with the side trails, is about 160 miles. Despite the landslide conditions of last year, the trail stayed opened, but hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders had to use caution.

"The trail remained open throughout (last year), but there were some very tough conditions," Mayer said. "I've been with the trails a lot of years and it kind of reminded me when the trail was first opened."

The bright spot of about this year is that the trail didn't see an impact of snow like it had the last three years.

"There hasn't been any damage this winter and it's been really good," said Curt Glasoe, a U.S. Forest Service engineer. "It's been a good winter after the last two or three we had."

However, Mayer and the rest of the people managing the Maah Daah Hey Trail have considered relocating small sections of the trail to either the bottom or top of the landslide.

"Just small sections would be relocated either down the slide or above the slide," Mayer said. "It would be very minor relocates, but enough to get off the slide area itself."

The cost for the relocation would be around $7 per foot.

"We debated about going out and making a major fundraising effort last year," Mayer said. "With all the issue across the state, people had other problems than to worry about our trail. We did the best we could with the funds that we had on hand."

Along with the Maah Daah Hey, the forest service and trail association has been putting together the Deuce, which spans from Burning Coal Vein to Medora. The Deuce was set to open last year, but Mayer hopes to open the trail this year.

"That was schedule to open last year," Mayer said. "With attention diverted to problems on the main trail, that took resources that would have been used to complete that section and used it up on rehabbing the main Maah Daah Hey...we are very anxious to get the Deuce open."

Repairing and maintaining the trail is a project that last all year round and Glasoe said the trail is trying to get back on its regular scheduled maintenance which repairs one-third of the trail each year. Glasoe said the easiest way for the forest service to locate problems is for people to call in and point out areas of distress.

"The big thing is when we have problems is for people to report that back to Forest Service," Glasoe said. "Then we can get the crews to those points and correct those


In correcting those problems with limited funds last year, Mayer had to put on his thinking cap and think outside the box for different solutions.

"We had to figure some things out ourselves and be a little more self-sufficient," he said. "Sometimes you either figure a way around or turn back."

To get new members and start raising money for funds for the trails, the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association is hosting its annual meeting on April 14 at the Eagles Club in Dickinson. The cost is $12 per person. The social starts at 5 p.m. and the dinner 6 p.m. To RSVP by Monday or for other questions, call 701-225-9404.

"We have an annual meeting and at the annual meeting we have a silent auction," Mayer said. "We invite members and non-members and hopefully we get some new members. Membership is reasonable it's only $25 a year."