Hiking in South Dakota

Sylvan Lake in Black Hills, South DakotaSouth Dakota is a hiker's paradise. The state is home to inspirational monuments, as well as beautiful wilderness settings, such as those found in the Black Hills. There are also many hiking trails that take you through the footsteps of the past; you can follow the same path as the Lewis and Clark expedition, or hike through the historic town of Deadwood, South Dakota. It you have an outdoor spirit, then this is one place you definitely need to visit. (Picture: Sylvan Lake in Black Hills, South Dakota)


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Exercise early to prepare your body for the hiking experience. South Dakota is a beautiful area to go hiking, but it is also physically demanding for those who want to spend time outdoors. While a lot of the routes can be rigorous, there is hiking for everyone, from novice to expert. The George S. Mickelson Trail in West South Dakota follows an old railway and offers diverse scenery depending on where in the 109 mile trail you begin. It stretches from dense forest to open grasslands, and in the winter accommodates cross country skiers.
Step 2
Obtain a good pair of hiking boots. If you already have hiking boots, then you're already a step ahead. If not, you'll want to buy a nice pair of hiking boots that are comfortable and provide good ankle support. Due to the rocky terrain of many trails in South Dakota, anything other than a Vibrum sole on a hiking boot will be torn to shreds pretty quickly. Also, South Dakota is home to a large number of rattlesnakes so high boots with thick leather is recommended.
Step 3
Pack your backpack with ample supplies for your hike along South Dakota's mountain trails. You will need a supply of fresh drinking water or iodine tablets to purify the water that you collect from streams and lakes. Even water sources above timberline in South Dakota's mountains are still susceptible to giardia and other parasites that can ruin your trip, so never drink directly from a natural water source. Bring light snacks to provide you with energy on the trail. If you intend to stay overnight you will also need a sleeping bag that is grade for 10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower because the nights can get below freezing regardless of the time of year. Note that overnight camping in state parks or in Black Hills National Park will require a permit, which can be obtained from the information office at the park entrance.
Step 4
Add emergency supplies to your backpack. Accidents and emergencies can happen at any time. If this occurs while you are hiking, you could be a long distance from anyone who is capable of helping you. Therefore, you need to have some basic supplies to help you through an emergency situation. Keep the hiking terrain and potential dangers of South Dakota's trails in mind as you pack your emergency supplies. A basic first aid kit is absolutely essential, and you should also have a flashlight and matches in case you get lost overnight. A cell phone is also a good idea, although you may not be able to get a signal from remote locations.
Step 5
Find a hiking buddy who can accompany you on your trip through the South Dakota countryside. It is never a good idea to hike alone. If you find yourself in trouble and are in an isolated location, it can be difficult to get help or to make your way to safety. Having a buddy along makes this much easier. It's always great to go for a hike and to enjoy the outdoors, but you should do so in a safe manner. Try to find at least one friend who will accompany you on the journey. You may also consider joining a hiking club and exploring the South Dakota trails as part of a group.
Step 6
Decide on a location to hike. This is clearly the most difficult part of hiking in South Dakota, because there is an abundance of beautiful trails. Badlands National Park and the Black Hills are popular areas for those who enjoy scenic beauty. The Centennial Trail and the George S. Mickelson Trail are both popular hiking locations for those who want to explore the Mount Rushmore area.
Step 7
Set a date for your hike. It's really as simple as that. Once you have toned yourself physically, packed your supplies and selected a location, there is nothing else to do but schedule a time and enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

Article Written By Wirnani Garner

Wirnani was born in the Philippines, where she had constant access to a rural jungle environment. In addition to exploring the island jungles, Wirnani spent much of her youth interacting with local wildlife, swimming in the Philippine Sea and rafting on the Davao River. She also routinely went on backpacking trips along the trails of Mount Apo, the highest peak of the Philippine Islands. Wirnani currently lives near the Ozark Mountains of Northern Arkansas. The location provides an abundance of hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and fishing opportunities. When she's not spending time outdoors, Wirnani enjoys studying biology and human health sciences.

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