Vast, sparsely populated, and beautiful, South Dakota's landscapes are dominated by classic Midwestern prairies that meet the Black Hills National Forest, which is home to Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt. Rushmore. To help you tackle the best of what the Coyote State, has to offer we've highlighted five hiking trails in South Dakota based on recommendations from Trails.com.
Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak)
A series of well-maintained trails that amount to nearly 30 miles allow hikers to explore Black Elk Peak (the new name given to Harney Peak in 2016), a historical geographical site that is also a beautiful habitat for wildlife. Hikers can reach the summit, which at 7,242 ft. is the highest point in the Black Hills, via a direct 4-mile trek and take in views of the surrounding wilderness area from a historic stone fire tower.
The historic Flume Trail runs for 11 miles (with an extra 3-mile loop) through the Black Hills' old gold-mining areas that attracted settlers in the 1880s. The Flume Trail takes hikers through the scenic Black Hills National Forest and follows part of the old flume bed for much of the way.
Lovers' Leap Trail
The 3-mile loop through Custer State Park called Lovers' Leap Trail is a moderately difficult path that leads to a ridge line topped with a rocky outcrop from where a pair of Native American lovers is said to have jumped to their deaths. The Lovers' Leap Trail takes hikers through stands of oak trees and ponderosa pines, and from the highest point you can see the surrounding forests as well as Cathedral Spires, Mount Coolidge, and Harney Peak (renamed Black Elk Peak in 2016).
Crow Peak Trail
There is a 3.2-mile trail that, while somewhat difficult, takes hikers to the summit of Crow Peak, from which you can see clear views of Citadel Rock, Spearfish Mountain, and Bear Butte to the east. The Crow Peak Trail winds through pine forests and over rocky terrain, and it also offers a half-mile side route that leads to Beaver Ridge.
Badlands National Park
There are several designated trails that vary in length and difficulty to help hikers explore some of the best parts of South Dakota's magnificent Badlands National Park: the Door Trail (0.75 mi. RT), the Window Trail (0.25 mi. RT), the Notch Trail (1.5 mi. RT), Castle Trail (10 mi. RT), Cliff Shelf (0.5 mi. RT), Saddle Pass (0.25 mi. RT), Medicine Root Loop (4 mi. RT), and the Fossil Exhibit Trail (0.25 mi. RT). Hikers visiting the BNP can see the Badlands Wall and the White River Valley and they have opportunities to see deer, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife.