Route: Upper Paddock/Talkington Loop (ND)

Submitted by Matthew Matta on Sat, 04/10/2021 - 10:03am
North Dakota, US
16.5 mi
Vertical Gain
1,500 ft

This loop is located in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is sometimes referred to as the East Loop and offers more solitude than the loop formed by the Lower Talkington and Lower Paddock trails. The Upper Talkington Trail gains elevation going east until it climbs up onto the rim. This part of the loop is mostly dry and has spectacular sandstone and clay formations. You then run along the rim for about 1 ½ miles before heading back into the rock formations on the Upper Paddock Creek trail. The Paddock Creek trail can be wet and muddy in places. There are a few steep drop offs. You will pass through prairie dog towns and will likely see wild horses, bison and mule deer.

The trail is marked mainly by wooden posts cut at an angle on top. It's probably best to carry or cache all of your water as there are numerous bison that use Paddock Creek. You could possibly filter water at the east end of Paddock Creek where there appears to be a spring directly below the rim. You can access the loop from parking areas on Scenic Loop Drive, a short spur trail off Government Creek Road on the east side of the loop, and the 2 mile long Painted Canyon Trail to the south. The Park Service lists this loop at 15.4 miles. My watch showed a little more than 16 miles with 1500 feet of ascent.