Ridgeline Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Medora, ND
Length: 1.15 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

ACTIVITIES: Hiking, wildlife viewing

LENGTH OF HIKE: Main trail: 0.4-mile round trip; going past the end of the main trail: 0.75+ mile

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Out and back



PARKING FEE/PASS: Park entrance fee






POTENTIAL CHILD OR BABY HAZARDS: One drop-off spot to one side at the
top of the hill

GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Water, sunblock

From grasshoppers leaping through the grasses to wild prairie flowers to expansive vistas, the 70,000-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a perfect landscape for toddlers learning to walk or a new mom just getting back her hiking legs.

Why we especially like Buck Hill Trail, a short, fast climb to 2,855 feet and the highest accessible point in the park, is because it’s a climb that even a 2- year-old can do. At the top of the hill, look for a grouping of boulders that kids will love climbing on.

The view to the north from the boulders at the top of the hill is out across the badlands. The main trail stops at the top of the hill, but an obvious dirt trail continues beyond the boulders, meandering up and down the rolling hill crests. This trail goes on, but for little legs, continue to about the second crest for great views and then consider turning around.

As for wildlife, expect grasshoppers, mountain bluebirds, and bison throughout the park. You also might catch a glimpse of pronghorns, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes and feral horses. And of course, as is common in the Dakotas, North and South, there are lots of prairie dog towns throughout the area.

Water is available in the park, as are benches, but not at this trail, so plan accordingly, especially in hot months as there is absolutely no shelter from the sun. There are plenty of bench-height rocks at the top to sit on if you need to nurse or take a snack break. Benches and picnic tables are also provided in other areas of the park.

Be aware of ticks and rattlesnakes and prickly pear cactus if you do wander off trail.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit. The park stays open year-round, but the roads may close for snow and ice in winter. The summer gets rather hot and dry on the high plains.  Visit on a sunny weekend, and you may see one or two other families on the trail. The park, as a whole, is very quiet with few visitors as compared to what you normally expect in a national park.

The parking lot at the trailhead is not very large, but with so few visitors, it doesn’t need to be bigger. If you want to adventure farther in this park, here are a few suggestions: the Boicourt Trail (hold onto the kiddos because this is a ridge with dizzying vistas), the Ridgeline Nature Trail, and the Wind Canyon Trail.

If you have the time, make the hour-long drive west to Makoshika State Park in eastern Montana, where you can hike through desolate badlands to dinosaur bones. Also consider camping in the Cottonwood Campground, and you will get a very
up-close and personal visit from bison who often roam through.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Surface type Dirt
Elevation gain 65 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains Yes
Bathrooms No
Cell reception None
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Viewpoint and Wildlife Viewing

“We loved visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park! Bison, prairie dogs, and views were plentiful while people were scarce. The skies were big and visibility seemed endless. There are four great, toddler-length trails along the 36-mile scenic loop drive in the south unit, so you can easily sample different areas in one day. Because they are short and most are hazard-free, they are perfect for toddlers to wander and are easy enough for new moms. Our favorite of the bunch was Buck Hill. My toddler could have stayed on top of the hill, chasing grasshoppers and climbing up and down the boulders, over and over, forever.” —JENNIFER BRADWIN

Other Trails in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $0.00

$30 per vehicle

Trail Contributor

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.


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