Near Medora in the southern half of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Talkington Trail area has several trails that total 20 miles. These are west of the Little Missouri River in the Petrified Forest Wilderness Area. One trailhead is located at Peaceful Valley Ranch. The trailhead and parking area are near the log lodge on the left as you enter the ranch site. If the river is low enough (less than 2 feet), it can be waded across on foot. Check at the visitor center for the current river level. Ask at the visitor centers for other access points for these trails.
The South Unit entrance and South Unit (Medora) Visitor Center are located in Medora, just off Interstate 94 (exits 23 & 27) and is 135 miles west of Bismarck, North Dakota.
The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is located 7 miles east of Medora just off I-94 at exit 32.
Jones Creek Trail - This trail that leads through the heart of the badlands reaches the road at two points. It may be hiked from either end. Length: 3.7 miles. The trail crosses the creek twice. The creek is usually dry, but may contain water and mud following snowmelt as well as spring and summer thunderstorms. The trail is relatively flat with buttes on either side. There are two trailheads
Lower Paddock Creek Trail - This trail can be accessed from the road at two points and may be hiked from either end. Length: 4.4 miles. The trail crosses the creek numerous times. The creek is usually dry, but may contain water and mud following snowmelt as well as spring and summer thunderstorms. The trail passes through a few prairie dog towns.
Upper Paddock Creek Trail - is a moderate trail that follows Paddock Creek outside of the loop road. The trail crosses the creek many times. The creek is usually dry but may contain water and mud following snowmelt and spring and summer thunderstorms. The trail intersects the Painted Canyon trail that leads to the visitor center on I-94 and then continues to the southeast corner of the park. Here the trail leads north and intersects Upper Talkington Trail. The trail is relatively flat with some short inclines and buttes on either side. Length: 7.70 miles
Painted Canyon Trail - Length: 2.0 miles. The trail starts at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center and ends at Upper Paddock Creek Trail intersection. Walk east on service road from Painted Canyon Visitor Center and you will see trail markers heading off towards the canyon. The Painted Canyon Trail is a very steep trail that leads down the canyon wall.
Lower Talkington Trail - Length: 4.1 miles. This trail can be accessed from the park loop drive at mile 18.5. There is a junction with a trail that leads to lower Paddock Creek Trail. The trail is a moderate to strenuous trail that covers a rugged section of the park. Hiking this trail involves numerous creek and wash crossings that are usually dry, but may contain mud and water at any time of year, particularly after spring snowmelt and rains, and after summer and fall thunderstorms and rains. The terrain along this trail varies from flat to gently sloping to moderately steep near creek crossings.
Upper Talkington Trail - Length: 4.0 miles. The trail is a moderate trail that follows a flat area from near the parks east boundary to the loop road. The trail crosses a creek twice within the first 1.5 miles from the loop road trailhead. These creeks are usually dry, but may contain mud and water following spring snowmelt and rains as well as summer and fall thunderstorms and rains. The trail also leads through the edge of a large prairie dog town just below the east rim of the badlands. Once on top of the rim, the trail meets with the Upper Paddock Creek Trail. At this point, the east park boundary fence is visible.
Overall, Talkington Trail is the 6th most popular hiking trail of all 7 hikes in North Dakota.