Stonehome Brewing Company
Maah Daah Hey Red Rye IPA
Watford City, ND
It’s “North Dakota’s Best Kept Secret” claims the Maah Daah Hey Trail Association, and they might be right. The Maah Daah Hey Trail system (MDH) features nine different trails that combine to make up over 175 miles of traversable land all set among some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. The name itself is a testament to the trails distinctiveness as “Maah Daah Hey” comes from the Mandan Indian language and roughly translates to “a place that will be around for a long time”.
But the name goes deeper than that. Gerard Baker, a Mandan-Hidatsa Indian who gave the trail its name described it as a reference more closely related to the English word “grandfather”. In a September 2016 issue of the New York Times, Baker said that he named the trail Maah Daah Hey because “grandfathers are always supposed to be around. From a clanship standpoint, we Indians have a lot of grandfathers, and whether you’re having hard times or good times, they’re supposed to be there for you. That’s what the trail means. You can go out there by yourself and cry and nobody will hear you except the spirits, and they’ll help you.”
What is especially unique about the MDH is that it is not a very popular hiking trail at all. It is, however, one of the most highly respected mountain biking trails in the world. In fact, the 144-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail, the major component of the MDH trail system, is the longest continuous singletrack mountain biking trail in the country. The entire trail system is located on the western side of North Dakota and connects the northern and southern sections of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Mountain biking is not allowed in the national park but alternative trails have been established to bypass those areas. In addition, the MDH sees a significant number of horseback riders (about 25% of the trail’s total users) and there are always a few who choose to hike it as well.
Much like the terrain at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the landscape found along the MDH is remarkable. From rolling prairies to forestlands to steep buttes and riverbeds, the views are never-ending. Campsites, water caches and nature viewing areas are prevalent on the trail and visitors can take in both North Dakota’s natural beauty as well as some of the state’s history. The entire trail hovers around an elevation of about 2,000 feet but has a total elevation change of more than 8,000 feet from start to finish with its highest point at 2,703 feet.
The MDH was originally conceived as a horseback riding trail and construction began in 1999. It took a decade to complete the initial 96 miles of the Maah Daah Hey Trail and since then many more miles have been added; and it is quite possible that even more will be added in the near future as well. Mountain bikers beware: this trail is not easy. It’s rugged terrain, steep drops, and twists and turns can easily toss yet another rider over the handlebars. At certain points, the trail quickly drops as much as 300 feet, sometimes into a riverbed, and more than a few bikers have found themselves face-to-face with a boulder, a tree, or even a cow. Almost no one finishes the trail in a day aside from those who are in the midst of the Maah Daah Hey 100, an annual 100-mile race that the event’s organizers make a point of communicating “may result in death or serious injury… race at your own risk!” This trail will undoubtedly push a rider to their limits and also provide ample explanation for how the Badlands got their name.
Reviews of the MDH rightfully and repeatedly refer to the trail system as a “treasure” and the North Dakota Badlands as “majestic”. The area was once dominated by indigenous tribes including the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Assiniboine, Blackfoot, Chippewa, Crow, Oglala and Lakota Sioux, and was part of a major inter-tribe trading network that connected all the way into present-day Montana. The land is filled with stunning vistas of some of the most unusual natural structures in the U.S. as well as anomalies like 65 million-year-old petrified tree stumps, and visitors might even be lucky enough to see red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, big horned sheep, prairie dogs, white-tailed deer, elk, antelope and bison on their journey.
Even the most advanced mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders will inevitably find themselves worn out after a day on the MDH. Fortunately, another of North Dakota’s best kept secrets, Stonehome Brewing Company, located near the northern MDH trailhead in Watford City, is fully stocked with some nice, cold beer including their Maah Daah Hey Red Rye IPA. Proceeds from every keg sold by Stonehome Brewing Company go to the Save the Maah Daah Hey organization which is dedicated to preserving and maintaining the Maah Daah Hey Trail system so that it may continue to “be around for a long time”.
From the Brewer: A lovely ruddy red color with an unfiltered haziness. Dry hopped for aroma, MDH has a peppery spice, and a crisp hop finish. Named for the wondrous MDH to honor one of our states many beautiful treasures! A donation is made for every MDH keg we sell towards preserving our trail. So drink up!! ABV 6.5%, IBU 47
Steve and Gretchen Stenehjem - Proprietors, Aaron and Angie Pelton - Owner/Operators, Rick Diaz - Brewmaster