Quick Stop at Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Since Will and I met, we have made a point of hiking on the North Country Trail when possible. We started on the trails around Pittsburgh but have hiked it in New York and Ohio. And now we can add North Dakota to that list. North Dakota could have eluded us, but when we stayed only 1.5 hours from the border and the North Country Trail, we had to make a day trip to add another pin to our map.

Starting out, we knew it was going to be a trying day. We were still dealing with the heat and now the ol’ Midwest winds were kicking up. But we had 1 day to make North Dakota happen, so away we went.

Fort Abercrombie is on the banks of the Red River just inside the North Dakota border. The fort has a visitor’s center and an outdoor area to explore. While the original buildings are no longer standing, the field is landscaped in a way where you can see where they once stood. The footprints of the original buildings are set off with corner posts, and the grass within these posts is allowed to grow tall. All the other grass in the field is mowed. Once we understood what the tall grasses meant, we stood back and were able to envision what the area looked like once upon a time.

We did not explore the museum that is part of the visitor’s center as we had Daisy along, though it would have been a welcome break from the heat and wind. There is a cost associated with touring the museum, but visitors can wander the grounds for free.

We would have thoroughly enjoyed spending so much more time here, especially walking along more of the North Country Trail, but the 90°F heat coupled with the sustained 20–30 mph wind with 40+ mph gusts made for a less than pleasant experience. Reluctantly, we turned back to earlier than expected and ate our picnic lunch in the truck.

Even though our visit and walk around the fort made the cut for us adding North Dakota to our list, Will and I opted to take the long way home—the more dirt roads, the better—so we could spend even more time in the state and fully appreciate the flatness, the farms, and the wind.

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