Rankin Ridge Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"The Black Hills are a hiker’s delight. Contained in these 6,000 square miles of unglaciated valleys and hills are more than 500 miles of trails that do great things. For one, they take you to splendid fishing. For another, they weave among incredible scenery sculpted by time in accordance with some of the nation’s most provocative geological mandates. What all this results in is variety—something for everyone.A short interpretive loop trail that ascends through ponderosa pine, providing vistas of Wind Cave National Park and its immense surroundings."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
"A trail wandering through ponderosa-pine forest, providing vistas of the park and its immense surroundings. The trail provides a delightful climb up Rankin Ridge, offering sweeping views of the park and beyond. From the ridge the view suggests immense geological phenomena to the east. Red Valley cuts a spectacular swath through the foreground while the Hog Back Ridge, with its Bison Gap, suggests a ring engulfing the Black Hills. The White River Badlands, once a part of the Black Hills, shimmer in the distance."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Best Easy Day Hikes: Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
Easy hike, great view, but not expansive. Great for getting out of the house and having a picnic...would be better if the fire tower were open to the public.
The Ranklin Ridge Trail consists of a short hike up and along a ridge with a number of signs providing biological information about this hill/praire transition area. From the ridge itself you can often spot bison and elk, along with a fantastic view of the black hills. There is an observation tower at the end of the trail which you can climb most the way up to enhance your view. Visible from here is a controlled burn which was lit in 1994 to balance the continous battle between plains and forest in this area. I recommend bringing a good pair of binoculars or a scope to improve your view here. If you are visiting the Black Hills don't forget to include Wind Cave National Park on your list of "must sees".
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