We’ve said it before, but if you’ve never made it to the Black Hills in the summer, you’re missing out. We’ve written about the top 5 places to visit in the Hills, as well as the best restaurants, but if you really want to capture the spirit of the Black Hills, it’s best to get outdoors. This week, we’ll take a look at some of the best off-the-beaten-path hiking destinations around the area.
Southwestern South Dakota is a hiker’s paradise. From the Badlands to Spearfish Canyon, Hill City to Hot Springs, there are tons of great hiking adventures to enjoy. Some, however, tend to be more popular than others. All of these hikes can be done in a day or afternoon, and are close to Midwest Outdoor Resort’s Rushmore Shadows, which is the perfect home base from which to explore the area. Read on to find some of the best hidden gems the Black Hills have to offer!
1. Devil’s Bathtub, Spearfish Canyon (58.5 Miles from Rushmore Shadows)
Directions: From I-90, take the Spearfish Canyon Byway Exit, then south on Highway 14A. Past Bridal Veil Falls, take the Cleopatra Place Turnoff. You’ll see a small gravel parking lot before a bridge. The surrounding area is private property, so tread carefully.
In a small clearing in Spearfish Canyon lies Devil’s Bathtub, a clear pool formed from the swirling erosion of the surrounding rock formations. The Devil’s Bathtub hike can be done in an hour, or stretched out to last an entire afternoon. Plan on getting at least your feet wet, as you’ll be crossing the winding creek through the area several times. This is a gorgeous hike in one of the most beautiful spots in the Black Hills.
2. Cathedral Spires, Custer (28.3 Miles from Rushmore Shadows)
Directions: Take Highway 16 West to Hill City, Then 385 South to Sylvan Lake.
This out-and-back hike leaves from either the Sylvan Lake Trailhead or Little Devil’s Tower Trailhead, and is a perfect mid-morning or afternoon jaunt. Totalling 2.5 miles, The Cathedral Spires Trail can be a little challenging in spots, as you climb over various rock formations. This lightly-treaded trail winds through the bases of gigantic granite formations, and gives you a sense of how large the spires really are.
3. Horse Thief Lake Trail (16.2 Miles from Rushmore Shadows)
Directions: Take Highway 16 West past Mount Rushmore, which turns into 244W. Follow to the Horse Thief Lake day use area.
Located in the Black Elk Wilderness area of the Hills, just west of Mount Rushmore, the Horse Thief Lake Trail will remind hikers of the Pacific Northwest. Waterfalls, spires and boulders abound. This is a great hike for a hot day, as almost the entire trail is shaded by some of the largest trees in the Black Hills. Bring your swimming gear and cool off in Horse Thief Lake at the end of your hike.
4. Stratobowl, Rapid City (Less Than a Mile from Rushmore Shadows)
Directions: Take Highway 16 West, turn right onto Big Red Road. Park near gate.
The Stratobowl is a perfect hike for the entire family, as it’s short, easy, offers amazing views and is right next to Rushmore Shadows! The Stratobowl is a local favorite, with plenty of history to read along the hike. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a hot-air balloon launch. It’s a great area for biking as well.
Of course, these are just a few suggestions. The Black Hills are chock-full of awesome hiking areas. Give us a call at (800) 231-0425 and we’ll be happy to help plan your vacation today. Happy exploring!