The Sheyenne National Grassland sits about 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Fargo, North Dakota. It’s the only national grassland on the tallgrass prairie; The National Park Service manages another remnant of this prairie type in Kansas. Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres (68 million ha) of North America, but within a generation most of it had been transformed into farmland. Today less than 4% remains intact.
This grassland came to our attention when we were scouting for hiking opportunities near Fargo. We found the 4 mile (6.4 km) Oak Leaf Loop Trail on its eastern side. This loop encompasses a piece of the 4,700 mile (7,520 km) long North Country Trail (NCT), so win-win, we’d get to experience a tiny bit of that trail too. 🙂
We had the hazy notion that “grassland” meant we’d be hiking across an endless, featureless sea of grass. Ah, no. We were on well-signed trails that wind across expanses of tall grasses and forbs and through patches of woodlands hosting various species of oak. With Fall colors starting, this proved to be an extremely pleasing and colorful mix of open and enclosed country. That, combined with near-perfect weather for hiking 😎, made for a delightful morning away from town. And we managed about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of the NCT, so only 4,698.5 miles to go! 🙄RETURN TO FRONT PAGE