The wonderful, natural wonders of South Dakota: there's a lot of different ones in the western area, and the area is home to one big not-so-natural wonder: Mount Rushmore! You have seen it on postcards, in photographic books about the USA, and on currency, but have you see it in person? It's really a spectacular site to see!
When I visited the Black Hills in South Dakota, I was barely 10 years old, so I wasn't hiking just yet (my family wasn't the hiking type). We did, however, do some "strenuous walking" to get a closer view of Mount Rushmore while in the national park, and we did some horseback riding in Custer State Park, where we got to see wildlife and bison up close! It really is a beautiful area that makes you feel like you are right out there in the wilderness, especially if you're coming from the suburbs (like me!)
I'm thinking about visiting again, but this time, I want to hike! The Black Hills National Forest has 450 miles of hiking trails ranging in length and difficulty. Let's take a quick look at some of the most popular ones that I've been researching!
Badlands National Park
I don't remember what trails we walked when I was here, but if I go back, I would definitely check out the short, easy 3/4 mile hike called Door Trail! It leads to "the Door" that shows a really awesome view (like the one above)! From the Northern area of the parking lot, you can also do the 1.5 mile Notch Trail, which while not recommended for those who are afraid of heights, has an awesome viewing spot of the White River Valley. It's moderate/strenuous trail that has some crazy ledges and ledges, though, so be advised!
George S. Mickelson Trail
The 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail, with trailheads from Dumont to Edgemont, is known not for hiking, but for bicycling! There are 15 total trailheads that have parking, self-sale trail passes, toilets and tables. There are no grades bigger than 4%, though there are strenuous parts of the trail!
If you're looking to climb up rather than out, check out Harney Peak! It's accessible from several directions, and trails to the 7,242 summit range from easy to difficult, depending which one you choose! I recommend the Sylvan Lake Trailhead; you'll have to pay $5 to drive from the highway to the trailhead, and register to climb but the actual climb is free. There is a historic stone firetower at the top that is no longer in use but is open to the public to check out. The trail in to the peak takes you past amazing granite towers rising out of the hills!