“Some phenomenal flowy singletrack to add adventure to the original MDH
— Mike Casey
The Deuce extends the original 100 mile Maah Daah Hey - IMBA Epic another 50 miles to the south. It was formally opened in 2014. The trail can get patchy in places but is overall easy to follow throughout with virtually all of the infrastructure established (trail heads, dirt work, water caches at the trail heads, bridges and most importantly the 'turtle' posts marking the trail throughout).
Need to Know
The Deuce is easily broken into 5 to 10-mile sections with the route coming to the county road at 7 well-developed trailheads no further than 10 miles apart. All of the trailheads are accessible from a good (graveled) county road. The 11-mile section closest to Medora is established, well used and a great ride from the Plumely Draw TrailHead to the Bully Pulpit trailhead at the golf course.)
If you're riding during hunting season it may be wise to wear brighter colors, as the trail does see quite a bit of hunter traffic.
Dakota Cyclery in Medora remains an outstanding bike shop. Great service, great people, reasonable rentals and shuttles.
Starting from the southern terminus at the Burning Coal Vein campground, you'll see signs for the Maah Daah Hey trailhead that starts off the ride with a gate system that you'll learn to love- as there are many of them throughout the route.
This first section of trail riding north was being actively worked on when we rode it in September 2017- the USFS has the material ready to build a bridge across the first marshland crossing and has been establishing a smooth, compacted, crushed gravel path that extends for the first 15ish miles of trail. This is some of the easiest riding you'll encounter, with a wide buffed-out path that rolls fast as you slightly ascend and descend through the badlands environment.
The terrain and vegetation gets more varied the further out you venture, as beautiful buttes, domes and trees abound in a littered array of in-and-out arroyo riding. As you zoom along this well established and marked section, you'll encounter both road crossings and trailheads where it's possible to resupply water that are all well marked on the main MDH route map here: mdhta.com/trail-guide
Continue following the iconic Turtle marking posts that lead you along wide open ridgelines onto switch-backing descents to the valleys below, all on fairly non-technical, fully rideable terrain. If you look at the elevation profile, you'll notice that it's nearly all quick punchy climbs that lead into equally fast descents, so find a good rhythm so as not to burn out too quickly, and you should be fine.
If you want to stay at the Coal Creek Campground (roughly mile 27 from the start) you'll need to venture 3/4 of a mile off route along the Coal Creek Trail, which also has a water pump for H20 at the trailhead that's at the start of the road leading to camp. There are 10 campsites available here, and are usually not crowded unless it's hunting season or a warm weekend.
From Coal Creek riding north, you'll encounter more varied terrain, a few longer climbs and slightly less established singletrack, but just keep riding along, and you'll also enjoy some of the best sections of flowing downhill that you'll find on the whole trail.
You'll know you're near the northern end of the Deuce when you see the green patches of a golf course. Stay alert through this section as there are a few social trails that take you down some rowdier terrain and you'll want to stay on track if you're heading into Sully campground.
This trail shows every sign of an Epic Ride equal to or better than the original Maah Daah Hey - IMBA Epic. The USFS made improvements using lessons learned from the original Maah Daah Hey - IMBA Epic. The best example of that is the outstanding bridges. (We only got our feet wet three times; an unavoidable marsh right out of Burning Coal Vein Trailhead, a side hill seep and a wooded draw and none of those amounted to anything more than damp socks). The Deuce has had so little horse traffic that you don't have to deal with the rutted trails and very little random "livestock cobblestoning".
The USFS is improving the surface of the trail as time and money allows, but the improved sections are somewhat random with the majority of the improved trail being closer to Medora. We had to contend with a bumper crop of ticks, but spraying the legs with deet really helped. Also, we saw 1/2 dozen rattlesnakes on the road and had one strike at us on the trail (sucks to be the second person in line).
We stayed at Sulley Creek State Campground 3 miles south of Medora. Great campground, cheap, with outstanding individual room pay showers ($1/ 6 mins). The campground is two miles from the Bully Pulpit Trailhead.
History & Background
The coal veins at the southern end of the Deuce is no longer burning, but the USFS does have a nice (primitive) campground right at the trailhead, Burning Coal Vein Campground.
The USFS Little Missouri National Grasslands map accurately illustrated the trail route, trail heads and county roads.