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Best Hiking Trails in South Dakota – USA

Overview

The Black Hills are the one mountainous area on the western side of the US state of South Dakota, containing the famous monument to past US presidents, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse.  The best months to hike in South Dakota are May to October. Read on for more information on where and when to go hiking in South Dakota. 

Capital: Pierre

When To Hike in South Dakota – USA?

May – October: Driest and warmest months
November – April: Cold, rain/snow

Climate: Temperate continental – warm, humid summers and dry, cold winters.  

 

South Dakota Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: Well established trails with good maps and guidebooks easily available.

Transportation required: Car

Where to stay in South Dakota for hiking:

  • Custer
  • Keystone

Most popular hikes in South Dakota – USA

All the mountainous areas are located in the southwest corner of the state, and the main area for hiking is in the Black Hills. Highest Mountain: Black Elk Peak (2208 m) in Black Hills National Forest.

Filter out hiking places of South Dakota – USA by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Black Elk Wilderness

Black Hills National Forest

Long Distance Trails of South Dakota – USA

  • South Dakota Centennial Trail – 111 mile long trail spanning the Black Hills
  • Mickelson Trail

South Dakota – USA's Walking & Hiking Resources

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South Dakota Hiking Books:  

  • Hiking the Black Hills Country: A Guide to More Than 50 Hikes in South Dakota & Wyoming, by Bert Gildart and Jane Gildart, 2021, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. – https://amzn.to/4cWhCXd
  • Moon South Dakota’s Black Hills: With Mount Rushmore & Badlands National Park, Outdoor Adventures, Scenic Drives, Local Bites & Brews, by Laural A. Bidwell, 2022, Moon Travel – https://amzn.to/43ZjnPo
  • Hiking Centennial Trail: A Guide to Hiking South Dakota’s Centennial Trail, by Jukka Huhtiniemi and Cheryl Whetham, 2020, CreateSpace Independent Publishing – https://amzn.to/3VZMD6y
  • A Trail Guide for the Mickelson Trail: Black Hills of South Dakota, by Aleen Golis, 2013, CreateSpace Independent Publishing 
  • Fodor’s The Black Hills of South Dakota: with Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park (Full-color Travel Guide), by Fodor’s, 2021, Fodor’s Travel Guides – https://amzn.to/3vQ0zW3

 

South Dakota Hiking Associations: there are many 

 

Best Hiking Trails in South Dakota:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official park websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Black Elk Peak Loop
  • Saint Elmo Peak
  • Crow Peak
  • Grizzly Creek Trail
  • Norbeck Trail
  • Deerfield Trail
  • Centennial Trail
  • Mickelson Trail
  • Barnes Canyon – Custer State Park

Easy Hiking Trails in South Dakota:

  • Cathedral Spires Trail – Custer State Park
  • Horsethief Lake Trail – Black Hills

 

South Dakota Hiking Websites:

 

South Dakota Weather Website:

 

South Dakota Official Tourism Site:  

 

South Dakota Hiking Apps: 

 

South Dakota Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Mount Rushmore – a trail to see the monument 
  • Badlands National Park
  • Wind Cave National Park

Other Important Points

  • Check for hunting season