Cross Ranch State Park is found along seven miles of the Missouri River in Center, North Dakota. Much of this 598-acre area has been left undeveloped to preserve its natural beauty, but there is a visitors center, a series of reservoirs and dams, and a 14.7-mile trail system. Bring your dog along for a walk on one of the Cross Ranch Trails, but keep them on a leash during your visit, and always pick up after them.
The Cross Ranch Trails opened in 1989, and since then, they've provided residents and visitors with an excellent way to explore the natural features of the area. They also provide access to other park amenities like camping and boating. You and your doggo have your choice of several different trails in Cross Ranch State Park.
For a short walk, you might choose the TNC Self-Guided Nature Trail. This two-mile path leads you through prairie and wooded areas, and it's part of the bison pasture in the Nature Conservancy. Be sure to pick up a guidebook at the trailhead to learn about the history of the trail and the plants and animals you'll see along the way.
For a slightly longer adventure, you can hike the 2.9-mile Matah River Trail. You'll begin this hike at the visitors center, and it takes you past most of the primary areas of interest in the park, including the camping areas and the natural amphitheater. There are interpretive signs along the path, but you can also pick up a guidebook at the trailhead before you begin your hike.
Pack water for you and Sparky, and a handful of doggie bags. If you'd like to pack a lunch, there are spots along the trails where you can stop and eat. It's recommended that hikers wear long pants and check their dogs for pests as they go -- there are plenty of ticks in this park, especially from April to June.
The Cross Ranch Trails are a lovely way to explore the Missouri River and get to know North Dakota with your dog!