Sanctuary Trail Professional Review and Guide
"A one-way route linking several trails in Wind Cave National Park, allowing hikers to experience a variety of park habitats."
--Bert & Jane Gildart, Hiking South Dakota's Black Hills Country (Falcon Guides).
Even though I have lived quite close to Wind Cave National Park it took me quite some time to visit the place. Nearby Custer State Park seems to absorb most of the tourism leaving Wind Cave a greater place of solitude. WCNP is a hidden treasure and one of the best areas to find peace and quite during the busy tourist season in the hills.
The road connecting Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park is currently torn up and although navigable it is in a dusty state of mayhem. That said it is worth the bumpy journey south to visit this park. The Highland Creek trail appears to see very little use as it was barely navigable through parts of the praire. The only visible tracks I saw were bison tracks and if it werent for the occasional "post" along the route it would be easy to lose track of on occasion. I saw a number of bison along the route and I often found myself wandering quite some way from the trail to give them their much needed space. I found myself amidst a number of praire dog towns and in some of the most pristine mixed forest/praire land I have ever seen. It was fantastic to view the bison in an environment not so overburdened by vehicles and onlookers. I found it enjoyable to hike this trail and to follow it up by hiking the short Ranklin Ridge trail to get an overview of the area I was just hiking in.
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