|Distance||2.8 miles roundtrip|
|Best Seasons||Spring, Fall, Winter|
- Amazing views of Bismarck
- Cool Native American village with exhibits in traditional lodges
- Exploring the historic Fort McKeen site
If you only do one hike in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, this is the one to choose. Starting with a walk through the reconstructed Mandan dwellings, the trail travels to the top of the bluffs overlooking Bismarck and the Missouri and Heart Rivers with a final stop at the historic blockhouses before descending. In less than 3 miles, you will see absolutely everything worth seeing in this park.
Before starting the hike, I highly recommend visiting the exhibits in the visitor center to learn more about the Mandan people. From the visitor center, follow the signs to the On-A-Slant Indian Village, and you'll find yourself surrounded by 6 earthlodges, like the two pictured below. This village was originally established around 1575 and was much, much larger with 75 earthlodges and a population of 1000 people.
Dogs are allowed on a leash of 6 feet or shorter. While this hike isn't particularly difficult, it may be a little long and hilly for younger children; the Young Hawk Interpretive Trail is a shorter option at 1.1 miles. Hiking is available in all seasons since the trail is not groomed for skiing in winter, but this trail is not recommended in the heat of summer since it lacks shade. Unsurprisingly, most people congregate at the On-A-Slant Indian Village and the blockhouses at the top of the hill and the Little Soldier Loop is much quieter. Note that this trail is multi-use and you may encounter mountain bikers and horseback riders -- yield to these users for your safety.
From Downtown Bismarck, head west on Main Avenue and continue straight as it changes into Memorial Highway. Turn left on 3rd Street, then turn left on 6th Avenue, which eventually becomes Highway 1806. Follow signs for the park, and turn left on Fort Lincoln Road just after passing the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. After paying your fee at the entrance station, follow signs for the visitor center, then turn right into the parking lot.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
All vehicles must pay the $7 daily or $35 annual entrance fee (perfect if you plan on visiting North Dakota State Parks 5 or more times in a year) either in the visitor center (when staffed) or at the self service station. More information available at the North Dakota State Parks entrance fees page. You can also order an annual vehicle entrance permit online through the North Dakota State Parks Online Reservation System. There are restrooms, water, a gift shop, and educational exhibits inside the visitor center.