Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Buckhorn Trail is a 12.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Watford City, North Dakota that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 12.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,066 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

no dogs

Trail is an 11.4 mile loop located in the North Unit of the park. Trail is used predominantly for hiking. Offline map recommended. Users have reported that the trail is not marked well.

hiking
bugs
no shade
off trail
over grown
10 days ago

This is a strenuous day hike. It is not well marked. The scenery is beautiful however and it’s a great workout if you really want to push yourself. I hiked off trail several times because I ran into bison herds. Give them plenty of room-especially if there are young. I would highly recommend downloading AllTrails map for this hike. There were several times when I simply could not see the trail or any markers in the distance. Bring plenty of bug repellent at this time of year. There are many biting flies.

hiking
blowdown
no shade
off trail
over grown
scramble
washed out
21 days ago

I started on the east end of the loop and hiked counterclockwise. The elevation stated is a little off, it’s actually over 1200 feet and most of that happens in the first 2.5 miles going this way. Because of defunding of the parks the trail is an absolute mess. Hasn’t been maintained in the least. It’s overgrown and washed out in places and, as other have mentioned, isn’t very well marked. Be okay with going off trail as needed since you’ll almost certainly encounter buffalo and they can be aggressive. I was followed for four miles by a small herd and charged several times on my hike, so be familiar with the best ways of handling that situation before you find yourself in it. They will wear you out :) Since it’s so poorly maintained you will absolutely come across missing sections of trail and discover that you’re actually somewhere you shouldn’t be, but it is very hard to get lost as long as you understand maps. The landmarks are as big as the sky. All in all a very challenging and worthwhile trail, though there are certainly prettier in this huge park.

hiking
26 days ago

The trail was great. We went counterclockwise thru the flats. The only thing was when we got to the half way point(the area with elevation) the signs were so limited that we had incredible difficulty finding the trail even with the app. Overall great views though.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
9 months ago

the part south of the road isn't worth doing. trail is barely marked and the views aren't worth anything. the north half is a good hike. be advised that probably 10% of the trail is through swamp. also, don't do what I did and hike it the day after rain. I was on all 4s getting up one incline, it was a slip and slide. also, 30$ entrance fee to park. saw three bison though

hiking
11 months ago

Excellent hike. I started at the Cannonballs TH and went clockwise, leaving the flats for last. I am glad there were trail markers but still lost the trail 3 different times, once ending up on the wrong side of the creek/gully. I used binoculars to locate the trail markers when I felt like I had lost the trail. Lots of animal trails. If you go awhile without seeing a trail then you are not on the trail. I did not have a consistent signal so this app was not always accessible and couldn't record the entire hike. Great views, beautiful wildflowers, solitude. No bison (the herd was at Oxbow Overlook area) on this day. Prairie dogs let me get close.

hiking
muddy
off trail
over grown
11 months ago

Great views but can be difficult to navigate at times—don’t get tricked by bison trails! Added a few detours so we walked a bit longer.

hiking
Tue May 28 2019

I started at the cannonballs and hiked the loop clockwise. Parts of the trail are well marked and easy to follow, but certain areas, particularly on the north-east side of the loop, are very hard to follow. I would have been lost without a GPS and the AllTrails map. I had to alter my route a few times because of bison on the trail. Also, be prepared for ticks. The scenery was beautiful and overall it was a great hike.

hiking
off trail
over grown
Fri May 17 2019

Worked our way counter clockwise from the cannonballs due to bison on start of the trail! First part of the hike is very flat and open, super easy to follow the trail markers. As you start to get more into the hills the trail progressively gets harder to spot and there are fewer trail markers, after a while they aren't even wood markers anymore they're metal posts in the ground. Got off trail a few times but were able to find our way back thanks to the app, other wise we wouldn't have been able to find our way back to the trail. Only dealt with 1 tick thankfully. It's a challenge but it was so beautiful and we saw SO many bison. A trail we would love to do again.

hiking
Sun May 12 2019

Nice hike. Took a buddy and I about 4 hours. We were told the trail wasn't maintained, which was evident past a certain point. We started at the cannonballs and headed towards Caprock Coulee. Good views when getting above the tree line. Saw plenty of bison and prarie dogs. Lost the trail near the end, ended up on the opposite side of the bridge trailhead. Trail on the other side of the road was closed so we had to walk the road for a bit.

hiking
Sun Apr 07 2019

Great hike

hiking
Sun Sep 23 2018

Full disclosure my wife and I only hiked to the prairie dog town and back. Good prairie views and of the concretions, and of course the prairie dogs.

Sun Sep 02 2018

My husband and I did this trail in August, 2018 at the recommendation of park rangers, we wanted some experience with an overnight hike. It was a hot day and we had plenty of water and our filter, however thee was no water source to use to refill or filter, the juniper campground was close to the trail so we hiked there to refill then tried to find a spot to pitch our tent. The trail had some very poorly marked areas, we went off the main trail several times, making this 12 mile hike over 16. Had it not been for the excellent AllTrails app, not sure we would have found the trail. We did see beautiful peaks and a lone bison which we gave wide berth. Prairie dog town was cute, you are very close to them. The final few miles were impossible to find the trail so we hiked on or near the road.

backpacking
Wed Sep 20 2017

We had a great hike here over the Labor Day long weekend. The badlands rock formations are wonderful and we had the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife including Bison, Prairie Dogs and even a rattle snake. The first mile or so of this track (starting near the park entrance) is a bit narrower and steeper than we expected. I would suggest long pants because the undergrowth is quite prickly.

hiking
Sat Aug 05 2017

Great challenge with amazing views.

running
Tue Jun 13 2017

Defiantly a hard trail to run due to bison tracks making the trail really uneven but it's a great run if your looking for a challenge!

Tue Nov 15 2016

This trail was beyond my equipment and provisions. Physically, I could've walked the trail, however my judgement told me, I did't have the equipment required for such a trek. The outdoors requires a level of respect, and out hear anything can happen. I enjoyed the photos, don't buy upgrades walk'em !

Showing results 1 - 17 of 41