Route: Jones/Lower Talkington/Lower Paddock Loop (ND)

Submitted by Matthew Matta on Sat, 04/10/2021 - 06:42am
North Dakota, US
11.6 mi
Vertical Gain
800 ft

This is one of the more popular loops in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. On some signs you will see it referred to simply as the West Loop. It roughly follows Jones Creek on the north and Paddock Creek on the south. As you leave the Little Missouri River you gradually ascend, passing incredible badlands formations in the sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and clay. In places the trail passes directly through prairie dog towns. You will also likely see wild horses, bison and mule deer.

The trail is marked mainly by plain wooded posts cut at an angle on top. Following the exact trail or gpx track is difficult due to braided trails created by the Bison. In general you will see the next post in the distance and run there using the best looking path. It's probably best to carry or cache all of your water as there are numerous bison that use these streams as their main water source. There are multiple access points, including Lower Paddock Creek Trailhead, Peaceful Valley Ranch, Jones Creek Trailhead and two parking areas along Scenic Loop Drive on the east side of the loop. Trail Run Project shows this route as having around 500 feet of gain but my watch and other reports put it closer to 800 feet.