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South Dakota Hiking Trail Finder
This site is designed for organized access to informative South Dakota hiking trail websites. Hiking enthusiasts like you have created excellent web pages on South Dakota hiking trails -- then posted those pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.
- Badlands National Park Here's a page the NPS could take a lesson from. All the "ins-and-outs" and how to go about doing them...where to stay, what to bring, where to hike, and with some helpful trail information. This is Badlands National Park summarized on one webpage about as well as it can be done. From a "grasslands" site by Thomas Henry.
- Badlands National Park -- Notch Trail Here's a brief essay with some terrific photos on the Natural Born Hikers website. Trail is one of the "must-do" hikes in BNP.
- Badlands National Park Here's another terrific online guide to some of the key hiking trails in the Badlands, this one from Protrails.com. Trails described run the gamut from 1/2 mile scenics to all-day deals. They do a good job with this stuff...good descriptions, and I could just browse the photos for hours. Includes directions, notes, even some cool arcana.
- Black Hills trip report with numerous photos from a 10-day backpack. Tough drill for the slacker, but this is a fun site nonetheless. Description and photos by Jay Hawkinson.
- Black Hills this is the Black Hills Hiking forum on MSN "Groups" and is about as thorough a resource as you can find, moderated/maintained by Michael G. Hutt.
- Chopping Block This is actually a climbing location in the Mt. Rushmore area. The reason we put this link here is that climbers have a way of ferreting out some mighty scenic locations that tend to have informal -- but very clear -- trails leading the way. For the climbers who may be reading this, Chopping Block is a great spot with a lot of fun single-pitch climbs. The rest of us will be down below, watching safely, perhaps a bit envious that we can't...rockclimbing.com is an excellent site for the climbing community.
- Custer's Trail Site is about a forthcoming book on the ill-fated General's 1874 Black Hills Expedition. This site won't help you plan any hikes, but we put the link here so that you can gather a little historical knowledge to wow (or bore) your fellow hikers.
- Harney Peak here's a fun to read trail narrative with some photos on the AmericasRoof.com website. You have to scroll down a little bit for the article.
- The George S. Mickelson Trail gentle slopes and easy access allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills. There are more than 100 converted railroad bridges and four hardrock tunnels along the trail. Much of the trail passes through National Forest Land, but there are parts of the trail that pass through privately owned land, where trail use is restricted to the trail only. "Official" site.
- Sylvan Lake/Harney Peak/Lost Cabin Trail this is a horseback trip. I've never put a link to a horseback narrative on a hiking site before, and I doubt I'll do it again. Three reasons here. First, I attended my friend Marisa's riding show this past weekend. Heretofore I thought dance class was the most fiscally draining, weekend-killing hobby a young girl could participate in. My daughters attended as well, and told me they want to take riding lessons. As soon as I started screaming they told me to calm down, they were just kidding. Very funny. The second reason I elected to add this link is because I'd rather share the hiking trail with a turd-spewing horse than even the most conscientious mountain biker. The third is that this just happens to be an informative trail narrative, and it is occasionally interesting to read one from other than a hiker's perspective. Nice photos as well.
- Wind Cave National Park main hiking page on the National Park Service website. Page has links to specific trails, info, and downloadable .pdf trail guides. Considering that Wind Cave isn't known for its aboveground hiking trails, and that this is indeed a Park Service site, it has a surprising amount of detail and info.
- Wind Cave NP -- Canyon Trail NPS site. Map, trail description; link from above NPS Wind Cave site provided here for convenience.
I wanna find one face that ain't looking through me
Once made a stopover in Mitchell, mainly to grab a room for the night, but also to check out the Corn Palace before pushing on. While stopped at a convenience store, a young man stopped to say hello, pointed at my license plates and mentioned that he used to live in New Jersey. I asked him "whereabouts?"
Hoboken? I replied, is a hopping town...lots of action for a young gentleman...plenty going on. I asked him if he ever missed living in Hoboken...certainly Hoboken has more to do than Mitchell!
"Yeah, I guess. But you know,it doesn't have a Corn Palace."
The Corn Palace, in case you just fell off the turnip truck, is decorated -- on the exterior -- with representative wheat, oats, soy, barley, and corn of course, from the current harvest. It represents the bounty that South Dakota produces. And no, you won't find anything like that in Hoboken.
Custer, Crazy Horse, Costner
Read it here, folks: The Black Hills region will eventually become a vacation destination with popularity to rival Disneyworld. Although it is still trying to get over its image as a series of roadside attractions people stop at while driving to Yellowstone, The Badlands/Black Hills corridor is gaining popularity year after year. Some things are a bit backward; the more exotic of the two caves is a National Monument; the lesser has full National Park status. That Wind Cave is a National Park at all is mostly due to pork barrel legislation; the Sylvan Lake/Pinnacles/Harney area just to the north is actually more deserving of National Park status. Anyway, I digress. From Wall and the Badlands to Jewel Cave, this area is simply outstanding, and people aren't stupid. It will continue to grow.
Of the two books currently available for the Black Hills,
Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country by Bert Gildart is your best option. He kind of overstates his difficulty ratings, but nevertheless it is a fine guide to the region. Another South Dakota guidebook I really like is Robin McMacken's
The Dakotas Off the Beaten Path. Again, this isn't a hiking guide, but we hikers can certainly use this book to find those "hidden gems" we usually sail past at 70 mph.
If you knew that the one face that ain't looking through me is from Bruce Springsteen's Badlands, give yourself 4 slackpacker trivia points.
-- Rick Bolger
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