Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail In North Dakota

Here is everything you need to know about the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Dakota
  • Length: 7.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail is located in the Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, situated in northwestern North Dakota, United States. The refuge was established in 1935 as a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife species. The Lostwood area has a rich history, dating back to the early 1900s when settlers began to arrive in search of fertile land for farming.

Before the establishment of the refuge, the Lostwood area was primarily used for agriculture. However, the harsh climate and challenging conditions made farming difficult, leading to the abandonment of many homesteads. Recognizing the importance of preserving the unique prairie ecosystem and providing a sanctuary for wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated Lostwood as a refuge.

The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail was developed to allow visitors to explore the diverse habitats within the refuge. The trail winds through rolling grasslands, wetlands, and wooded areas, providing an opportunity to observe a variety of plant and animal species. The refuge is particularly renowned for its bird population, with over 200 species recorded, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and grassland birds.

Over the years, the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail has become a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and hikers. It offers a glimpse into the region’s natural and historical heritage, showcasing the resilience of the prairie ecosystem and the importance of conservation efforts. Today, the Lostwood Refuge continues to serve as a vital habitat for wildlife and a place of tranquility for visitors seeking to connect with nature.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center: This is the main access point for the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail. It provides information about the trail and the refuge, as well as parking facilities.

2. Lostwood Lake: Located near the visitor center, Lostwood Lake offers a scenic starting point for the trail. There is a parking area available for hikers.

3. Lostwood Lake Overlook: This overlook provides stunning views of Lostwood Lake and the surrounding prairie. It is accessible from the trail and offers a great spot for photography.

4. Prairie Dog Town: This section of the trail takes hikers through a prairie dog town, where they can observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.

5. Sandhill Crane Viewing Area: As the name suggests, this area is known for its abundant sandhill crane population. Hikers can enjoy watching these majestic birds from designated viewing areas along the trail.

6. Prairie Wildflower Fields: The trail passes through several fields filled with vibrant wildflowers, offering a picturesque and colorful experience for hikers.

7. Lostwood Butte: This prominent landmark is a must-visit along the trail. Hikers can climb to the top of Lostwood Butte for panoramic views of the surrounding prairie and the refuge.

8. Prairie Dog Creek: This creek runs through the refuge and provides a peaceful and scenic spot for hikers to rest and enjoy the natural surroundings.

9. Prairie Bison Herd: The trail passes through an area where a bison herd can often be spotted. Hikers should exercise caution and maintain a safe distance from these large animals.

10. Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail End Point: The trail ends at a designated point, where hikers can turn back or continue exploring other trails within the Lostwood Refuge.

Transportation Available

1. Lostwood Refuge Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from Lostwood Refuge and Prairie Hiking Trail.
2. Prairie Taxi – Taxi service available for convenient transportation to Lostwood Refuge and Prairie Hiking Trail.
3. Lostwood Refuge Bike Rentals – Bike rental service offering a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the Prairie Hiking Trail.
4. Prairie Trail Bus – Bus service with regular stops near Lostwood Refuge, providing transportation for hikers and visitors.
5. Lostwood Refuge Car Rentals – Car rental service for those looking for independent transportation to the Prairie Hiking Trail.


The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail offers the following amenities:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at designated areas along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: The refuge provides parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while they explore the hiking trail.

3. Camping Sites: There are designated camping sites available for visitors who wish to stay overnight. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: The trail offers designated picnic areas where visitors can relax, have a meal, and enjoy the scenic surroundings.

5. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, there are informative interpretive signs that provide educational information about the local flora, fauna, and history of the area.

6. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The Lostwood Refuge is known for its diverse wildlife population. There are designated viewing areas along the trail where visitors can observe and appreciate the wildlife in their natural habitat.

7. Bird Watching: The refuge is a popular spot for birdwatching enthusiasts. There are specific areas along the trail that provide excellent opportunities for birdwatching.

8. Trail Markers: The trail is well-marked with signs and markers to ensure visitors can navigate easily and stay on the designated path.

9. Benches: There are benches placed at various points along the trail, providing visitors with resting spots and opportunities to take in the beautiful surroundings.

10. Information Center: The Lostwood Refuge has an information center where visitors can obtain maps, brochures, and additional information about the trail and the refuge.

Please note that amenities may vary, and it is always recommended to check with the Lostwood Refuge or their official website for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lostwood Refuge Campground – A campground located within Lostwood Refuge, offering basic amenities for camping.
2. Stanley Hotel – A nearby hotel in Stanley, ND, providing comfortable lodging options.
3. Prairie Winds Cafe – A local cafe in Stanley, ND, serving delicious food and beverages.
4. Mountrail County Medical Center – A medical center in Stanley, ND, providing emergency medical services.
5. Stanley Police Department – The local police department in Stanley, ND, offering emergency services and assistance.

Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail Difficulty Notes

The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail encompasses a diverse landscape, including grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands, providing a unique and scenic experience. While the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, hikers should be prepared for uneven terrain and occasional muddy sections, especially after rainfall. The trail also features some gentle inclines and descents, adding a bit of challenge to the hike. Overall, the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail is suitable for hikers of moderate fitness levels who are looking for a rewarding outdoor adventure.

Features And Attractions

Info not available.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are not allowed on the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail.
2. The trail is open year-round, but visitors should be aware of seasonal restrictions and closures.
3. Hunting and fishing are strictly prohibited on the trail.
4. Camping is not permitted on the trail or within the Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge.
5. Visitors are expected to stay on designated trails and not venture off into restricted areas.
6. Littering is strictly prohibited. Visitors must carry out all trash and dispose of it properly.
7. Bicycles, motorized vehicles, and horses are not allowed on the trail.
8. Visitors are encouraged to respect the natural environment and wildlife, keeping noise levels to a minimum.
9. The trail is for hiking and nature observation purposes only. Commercial activities or organized events require prior permission.
10. Visitors should be prepared with appropriate clothing, footwear, and supplies for their hike, as there are no facilities or amenities along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Lostwood Refuge Prairie Hiking Trail is a hidden gem nestled within the Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. This scenic trail offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the untouched beauty of the prairie landscape. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are particularly special for a visit.

One of the best times to visit the Lostwood Refuge Prairie Hiking Trail is during the spring season, from April to June. During this time, the prairie comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, creating a picturesque backdrop for hikers. The weather is generally mild, making it comfortable to explore the trail and enjoy the breathtaking views. Additionally, spring is the breeding season for many bird species, so birdwatchers will have a chance to spot a variety of migratory birds that call the refuge home.

Another great time to visit is in the fall, from September to October. As the summer heat subsides, the prairie transforms into a sea of golden hues, with the grasses turning shades of amber and the leaves of the surrounding trees changing colors. The cooler temperatures make hiking more enjoyable, and visitors can witness the annual migration of birds and monarch butterflies passing through the area.

It’s important to note that the Lostwood Refuge Prairie Hiking Trail may have seasonal closures due to weather conditions or wildlife management activities. During the winter months, from November to March, the trail may be closed or have limited access due to snowfall and icy conditions. It is advisable to check with the refuge’s visitor center or website for up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions before planning a visit.

In conclusion, the Lostwood Refuge Prairie Hiking Trail offers a captivating experience throughout the year. Whether you choose to visit during the vibrant spring or the enchanting fall, you will be rewarded with stunning views and the opportunity to witness the diverse wildlife that thrives in this pristine prairie landscape. Just be sure to check for any seasonal closures to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trail: The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail offers a designated trail that is accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to explore the beautiful prairie landscape.
2. Accessible Parking: The refuge provides designated accessible parking spaces near the trailhead, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available at the trailhead, providing necessary facilities for visitors with disabilities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail is constructed with a smooth and firm surface, allowing wheelchair users to navigate the path easily.
5. Benches and Rest Areas: Along the trail, there are benches and rest areas strategically placed, providing opportunities for individuals with mobility limitations to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Signage and Information: The trail features accessible signage and information boards, ensuring that individuals with visual impairments can navigate and learn about the area.
7. Assistance Animals: Visitors with disabilities are allowed to bring their assistance animals on the trail, ensuring equal access and support.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: The refuge offers accessible picnic areas near the trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor dining experiences.
9. Accessible Interpretive Programs: The Lostwood Refuge provides accessible interpretive programs, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can engage in educational activities and learn about the prairie ecosystem.
10. Accessibility Guidelines: The refuge follows ADA guidelines to ensure that all aspects of the trail and facilities are accessible and inclusive for individuals with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail is a moderately difficult trail with uneven terrain and potential wildlife encounters.
2. Weather Awareness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the trail is exposed and can be affected by strong winds.
3. Trail Markings: Follow the clearly marked trail signs and stay on the designated path to avoid getting lost.
4. Wildlife Encounters: Exercise caution and maintain a safe distance when encountering wildlife, including bison, deer, and various bird species.
5. Tick Prevention: Apply insect repellent and wear long pants to protect against ticks, which are prevalent in the area.
6. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against sunburn and excessive sun exposure.
7. Hydration: Carry an adequate supply of water, as there are limited water sources along the trail.
8. Trail Etiquette: Respect the environment and other hikers by staying on the trail, not littering, and avoiding excessive noise.
9. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a fully charged cell phone, a map of the trail, and inform someone of your hiking plans.
10. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety and assistance if needed.

Conservation Notes

The Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail is located within the Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, United States. This pristine trail is situated in a region that is of significant conservation importance. The Lostwood Refuge itself is recognized as a vital habitat for numerous plant and animal species, many of which are considered rare or threatened.

The conservation status of the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail is highly significant. The refuge is primarily managed to protect and restore native grasslands, wetlands, and associated habitats. These habitats provide critical nesting, breeding, and feeding grounds for a variety of bird species, including the endangered whooping crane and the threatened piping plover. Additionally, the refuge supports a diverse range of mammals, such as the swift fox and the American badger, both of which are species of conservation concern.

Efforts to conserve and restore the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail are ongoing. The management practices implemented within the refuge aim to maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of the area. This includes controlling invasive plant species, conducting prescribed burns to promote native vegetation growth, and managing water levels in wetlands to support a healthy ecosystem. The trail itself is carefully maintained to minimize human impact on the surrounding environment, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the beauty of the area while respecting its conservation needs.

Overall, the conservation status of the Lostwood Refuge – Prairie Hiking Trail is of utmost importance. The efforts to protect and restore the native habitats within the refuge contribute to the preservation of numerous rare and threatened species. By providing a well-maintained trail for visitors to explore, the refuge also promotes public awareness and appreciation for the importance of conservation and the need to protect these valuable ecosystems.

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