11 Beautiful Hikes To Add To Your Outdoor Bucket List In South Dakota
South Dakota offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails for all hikers. There are lots of easy to moderate trails for beginners as well as a beautiful variety of difficult trails for the seasoned adventurer. Here is a look at some well-loved favorites to add to your outdoor bucket list. In fact, these might just be the best hikes in South Dakota.
1. Sunday Gulch Trail, East Custer
Sunday Gulch Trail, 13329 US-16A, Custer, SD 57730, USA
First up on our list of some of the best hikes in South Dakota is the
Sunday Gulch Trail
. Primarily used for hiking, Sunday Gulch Trail Features a beautiful lake view. The trail is about four miles long and is located near East Custer. This rustic country trail it is accessible from June through October. To add to the fun this beautiful trail is also dog friendly so you can go hiking with your favorite companion!
2. Notch Trail, Interior
Notch Trail, Interior Township, SD 57750, USA
Notch Trail is a trail you simply cannot miss going on, this beautiful 1.3-mile out back trail is located near Interior, SD and features a breathtaking waterfall. Immerse yourself in nature and forget the daily grind on this trail. Good for all skill levels, The trail is great for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird-watching. Make sure to take your favorite companion with you. For a magical woodland adventure, it doesn't get much better than the
Notch Trail in South Dakota
3. Bear Butte State Park Trail, Sturgis
Bear Butte State Park, 20250 SD-79, Sturgis, SD 57785, USA
Bear Butte State Park Trail is a serene and beautiful two-hour hike on a winding trail that leads through a pine forest taking you to the top of the mountain. Adding to the beauty and serenity of this trail, many tree branches are draped with native American prayer flags and ceremonial objects. This is a great place to restore your inner peace on this wonderful escape into the wilderness. The Bear Butte State Park Trail might be the most
awe-inspiring trail in South Dakota
4. Cathedral Spires Trail, Custer
Cathedral Spires Trailhead, Custer, SD, USA
Cathedral Spires Trail is a gorgeous trail to explore as well as a bird-watcher's paradise. This trail is easy to follow and offers spectacular panoramic views of the forest and wildlife around you. Some parts are challenging but well-placed stones make a rough staircase to aid your climb. The scenery at the top is spectacular and makes it well worth the climb. There's a lot to appreciate about this
easy out-and-back trail in South Dakota
5. The Door Trail, Interior
Enter The Door Trail, Interior Township, SD 57750, USA
The Door Trail is a favorite for hikers, with plenty of beautiful wildflowers, spectacular views of the valley below, as well as a fifty-foot ladder. This trail has the perfect mix of beauty and adventure. The trail runs along the cliff offering breath-taking views below. Come in the afternoon and experience the most mesmerizing sunset you've ever seen. Learn more about hiking this beautiful
boardwalk trail in South Dakota
6. Little Elk Creek Trail, Piedmont
Little Elk Creek Road, Little Elk Creek Rd, Southwest Meade, SD 57769, USA
Little Elk Creek Trail is one of the best hikes in the Black Hills. It has exquisite views all along the trail, making it seem as though you can not take a step without seeing a new and amazing view as you walk through this unique 7.6-mile trail. The passage is fairly easy and divides into an upper trail where you can see picturesque views of the canyon and a lower trail that runs along the creek and provides breathtaking views of the cool water that flows through the creek bed. The water runs so clear you can see the fish swimming within it. This trail is also dog friendly and has plenty of water and shade to accommodate dogs. Everyone should hike this spectacular
trail in South Dakota
at least once.
7. Roughlock Falls Trail, Lead
Roughlock Falls Road, Roughlock Falls Rd, South Lawrence, SD 57754, USA
Roughlock Falls Trail is an easy and beautiful hike, a great stop on any trip. The scenery is both magnificent and diverse; take a quick hike and visit a lovely waterfall and lake. This is a great place to see birds and other abundant wildlife as you hike and experience the Black Hills. Watch as the light changes as the sun moves throughout the day. Bask in the lush areas visible along the creek and take in the towering rock-cliffs around you! It's one of the most beautiful
trails in South Dakota leading to a waterfall
8. Stratobowl Rim Trail, Rapid City
Stratobowl Rim Trailhead, 13600 US-16, Rapid City, SD 57702, USA
Stratobowl Rim Trail
is a beautiful place to reconnect with the Black Hills. There is plenty of wildlife on the trail as well as wild flowers and beautiful views of Pactola Lake. The trail is about 1.7 miles and has benches along the trail to take in the view and rest. This alluring trail is perfect for hikers of all levels, as well as biking. This is a great one to take the family out on.
9. Devil’s Bathtub Trail, Spearfish Canyon
Devils Bathtub Trailhead, 1917 Spearfish Canyon Hwy, Lead, SD 57754, USA
Devil’s Bathtub is awe-inspiring in its beauty. This crumbling limestone canyon is just gorgeous. This trail is a bit more difficult but very rewarding! Plan on getting your feet wet as the trail weaves in and out of the creek all the way. It is about a mile of hiking through the cool and beautiful forest with views of the rock formations leading to the waterfall and lagoon. Hike on a hot day and cool off in the lagoon at the end of the hike! Learn more about visiting one of the
best swimming holes in South Dakota
10. Lost Cabin Trail, Hill City
Lost Cabin Beer Co., 1401 W Omaha St #3, Rapid City, SD 57701, USA
Lost Cabin Trail is a more moderate trail at 14.7 miles, it can be used by horses and dogs alike. With fantastic scenery along the way, this trail also features beautiful river views. From the large lookout at the top you can see for miles, it makes for a truly amazing journey as you reach the top. This trail is perfect for camping, hiking, and horseback riding. This trip into nature is a refreshing outlook through the Black Hills. When it comes to the
best things to do in South Dakota
, hiking the Lost Cabin Trail definitely belongs on the list.
11. Harney Peak Trail, Custer
Last but not least on our list of the best hikes in South Dakota is the
Harney Peak Trail
in Custer. Harney Peak Trail offers some truly incredible views, with mountain goats, breathtaking rock formations, wildflowers, and vast panoramic views from the top. This trail should be at the top of every outdoor bucket list. This beautiful trail is perfect in its seclusion and really gives you that once in a lifetime experience you won't find anywhere else.
Which of these hikes is your favorite? Do you have other hiking suggestions for the best hikes in South Dakota? Tell us about them in the comments — we would love to hear from you!
For more great South Dakota hiking, here are
7 of the most scenic hikes in the state.
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best hikes in South Dakota
Does South Dakota have any kid-friendly trails?
Absolutely! While South Dakota features its fair share of challenging treks, you'll be delighted to hear that there are plenty of less strenuous trails for even the youngest outdoor explorers. We've compiled a list of the
best hikes under 5 miles in South Dakota, and many of them are perfectly family-friendly. One exciting recommendation is Mount Rushmore to Horsethief Lake. If you plan on visiting Mount Rushmore but wish to avoid the crowds, this trail will take you away from the hustle and bustle. It's a three-mile trail that's best explored between spring and fall. Just be sure to check weather conditions as they can change very rapidly and pose a dangerous situation. Another family-friendly trail in South Dakota is the Sylvan Lake Shore Trail. This scenic 1-mile loop is especially popular during the summer months. Be sure to bring your camera when you take this picturesque trail -- you won't be able to get enough of the views! Learn more about the best trails to hike in South Dakota.
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