South Dakota has hundreds of incredible hiking trails for all ages and abilities, and you really can’t go wrong spending the day on any of them! Here are 15 that we think are particularly magnificent. Make sure you put these on your outdoor bucket list, and start checking them off.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Crow Peak Trail, Spearfish
If you're up for a challenge, you'll be greatly rewarded on the Crow Peak Trail. It's steep, and the trail is often covered with slippery, loose shale, but the view at the top (after a 1,696-foot elevation gain) is well worth your effort.
2. Highpoint Trail, Harney Peak
The trailhead for Highpoint Trail starts at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. The 7.1 mile trail makes a full loop, and it's considered moderate because of the elevation climb. Once you reach the top, you're at the highest point in South Dakota - 7,242 feet above sea level.
3. Wind Cave Canyon Trail, Wind Cave National Park
Just follow the dirt road for 3.8 miles on the Wind Cave Canyon Trail, which is located inside Wind Cave National Park. Along the way, you're likely to see deer and bison, along with some seriously gorgeous vistas.
4. Castle Trail, Badlands National Park
The moderately challenging Castle Trail in Badlands National Park takes you through fields of wildflowers and past some stunning rock formations. You're likely to see wildlife along this 10.7 mile trail, and it's a less-traveled route, so you might also find some solitude.
5. Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Canyon
Starting at Spearfish Canyon Lodge, this short, easy two-mile-long hike is accessible to everyone. At the end, you're rewarded with a front row seat to the beautiful falls.
6. King and Queen Rock Trail, Palisades State Park
On the south side of the creek, you'll find a short little 1/4 mile long trail that takes you to the top of King and Queen Rock. Natural stairs carved right into the side of the rock make for a fairly easy climb - just be careful not to fall!
7. Sunday Gulch Trail, Custer State Park
This popular trail is one you can't miss - as long as you're up for a bit of a challenge. The three-mile loop takes you up and down stairs, over huge boulders and across the stream.
8. Summit Trail - Bear Butte State Park
This two-mile-long trail takes you to the top of Bear Butte, and the view up there will just blow you away.
9. Little Elk Creek Trail, Piedmont
This gorgeous trail takes you 7.6 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Black Hills National Forest. Enjoy plenty of shady spots, and dip your toes in the cool, creek water along the way.
10. Brule Bottom Trail, Union Grove State Park
The Brule Bottom Trail at Union Grove State Park is an easy, mile-long hike with pretty scenery. It makes a simple loop around the park and is perfect for everyone in the family.
11. Notch Trail, Badlands National Park
This fun trail has an interesting feature - a log ladder that takes you from the valley floor to the plateau above. The trailhead starts at the Door and Windows Trail parking area, and takes you just 1.5 miles up to a small flat area with a great view.
12. Flume Trail, near Sheridan Lake
Spend an entire day hiking on the 12.9 mile-long Flume Trail. It follows the old flume bed that was once used to carry water from Spring Creek to Rockerville. You'll see wildflowers and wildlife along the way!
13. Lovers Leap Trail, Custer State Park
This four-mile loop trail is full of wildflowers in the summer, and provides some great views. The legend says that a young Native American couple once hurled themselves from the lookout here when they weren't allowed to marry. Hopefully you won't want to jump off - but you will want to get some gorgeous pics.
14. Prairie Vista Trail, Big Sioux Recreation Area
The Prairie Vista Trail in the Big Sioux Recreation Area features a fun swinging bridge and a few steep spots, but this 2.8-mile trail is a great place to spend a few hours.
15. Presidential Trail, Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Every South Dakotan should take the Presidential Trail in Mount Rushmore National Memorial at some point. It's a super easy half-mile trail along a boardwalk, but it provides some great views of the memorial.
What’s your favorite South Dakota hiking trail? Tell us what you’d add to this list in the comments!