Explore the most popular horseback riding trails in South Dakota with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

My kids and I had a lot of fun. They are 3 and 4 years old so it was easy enough but still challenging for young kids. The little creek is beautiful and the views were stunning.

Hiked 7/19/18, left around 8 AM and parking lot was about half full. Took about an hour an a half up. I was a little confused, but you CAN swim at the top. Water is VERY cold but we also just got a lot of rain. Hopefully will warm up in a few days. Bring plenty of water 2-3 at least.

Light to moderate trail. Beautiful relaxing hike!

Did this hike on Monday. There was not a ‘closed due to tornado’ sign where we started the hike. . There should have been since we climbed over, around and through at least 40 trees and branches on the trail. The sign was at the end of the trail. It will be an awesome hike when cleaned up.

This is my third trip up the north side, more challenging and scenic than the Sylvan Lake Approach. Approx. 6-7 Hours up and back...and three bottles of water plus a Gatorade at the finish. Very hot, and a steady climb. Saw two other couples on the entire trek. Great views and places to eat lunch. A lot of horse droppings and the constant helicopters on their way to Mt. Rushmore made me feel like an ex-con on the run. Well worth it, only one stream and with all the horse activity I would be hesitant to drink even treated water.

Took the dog with us, nice view, peaceful, and a must do!

Did this trail in 3 1/2 hours. Amazing views from the top. Bring sun screen!

Nice easy walking trail. Up and back in under 2.5 hours. Beautiful view from the Harney Peak lookout, worth the trek utilizing trail 9

Great hike and we had fun keeping track of where we were in relation to the top of the mountain. I believe we took trail 9 and it was less busy but still passing people on the trail. Worth it for the view!Bring lots of water and a nice snack to munch on at the top - lots of places to sit and eat. Also I had 4 bars of service! Guess no obstruction to the towers.

Great views the whole trip. Make the loop to check out the needles. Bring plenty water in the summer, it’s hot. Some views look similar to Yosemite based on pictures. Bring a swimsuit to swim at top

Awesome hike, slightly overcrowded but I’ve been on much worse. Went up trail #9 and down #4, I think #9 had better scenery and a more gradual incline. If I was to do it again, I’d go up and back down trail #9. But if you want to avoid crowds, #4 had far less people. Bring more water than you think you need.

We started early for a couple of reasons. It was going to be a hot day and we wanted to do multiple hikes in one. It is a solid hike on relatively well marked tails. As with any hike it makes sense to have a map with you. Even the final turn at the peak isn't obvious. In fact, we built a cairn on that corner to create another obvious clue.
It is beautiful and the structure at the top is unique.
We watched a mountain goat graze at the top. The ghost later took a nap in the shade in spite of the hikers.
It did start to get crowded at the top after we had spent over an hour up there. My guess is that many hikers are in the trail by 8 or 9. At 7, we had the trail to ourselves.

Was a great hike very challenging for a newbie like myself but once at the top it was worth it!

Poorly marked. We couldn’t find the trail about a mile in, partially due to lots of downed trees. Ended up turning around after that.

Challenging for novice hiker, but well-worth it. Take lots of water! Spectacular views. Very crowded on the whole trail.

Super awesome trail. Did this last week with my family and only took us about 1.5 hrs up and maybe an hour to get back. Really unfortunate we did this right when the area got its first rain in months, so it was POURING, and the view at the top was blocked by fog. I give it 4 stars though because the hike was still fun and I’m definitely gonna need to get back here so I can witness the view I’ve heard about!

One of the most breathtaking trails I've ever done! I'm going back (two days in a row)!

mountain biking
25 days ago

We attempted this loop yesterday on mountain bikes. Very beautiful in places, however very overgrown with tons of fallen trees. In spots we were just walking our bikes and carrying them over trees, easily >30. Overall the area is very scenic with waterfalls nearby to visit on foot as well.

Living in Colorado, I’ve done a lot of great hikes and don’t through 5 stars out easily but this is a great hike.

The trail condition is quite good, and it combines all the things that make hikes special. Some beautiful creeks down low, a beautiful summit destination, views of the Needles with mountain goat cameos coming down # 4.

Even for a Saturday in the heart of tourist season I did not find the trail overcrowded other than in the final mile to the summit (because you’ve got two-way traffic from three different access trails converging there. We started at 9 am and the parking lot wasn’t filled yet (not something you’d see in Colorado!)

My GPS showed closer to 7.4 miles for distance (we went up 9 and down 4) and about 1550 total climbing. Who knows!

A really beautiful area and I think this is a classic example of a hike that I’d rate moderate (for active adults ... neither monster mountaineers or couch potatoes).

Well worth the trek to the top!!!!

Good for families too. No water refill station on top so make sure you have enough water.

Stunning views, easy to park. Lots of trails if you want to branch off. Only complaint is that trails aren’t well marked. Trail 9 (the “main” one) is supposed to be a loop but when you continue down it past the summit turn-off it tells you it does not take you back to Lake Sylvan parking. Confusing, but overall a great experience.

Nice hike with my son again! You can start two ways... We picked to the left which was uphill. Was a good choice I feel. At least for me. Lol Almost all uphill with some level spots but nothing hard for 1.1 miles. Then it was all down hill from there basically for 1.4 miles! At a point going down however when you get near the water and the thick forest the mosquitoes ate my son alive!!! Bring bug spray is all I can advise! Outside that had a great time!

Great hike, started on 9 and came back on 4. Heat was an issue, low 90's. Make sure to bring enough H2O.

Had a great hike with my son! Easy hike! Took only one GSD with us this time... Made it easier for my son... Beautiful weather in the low 60’s... Couldn’t ask for better conditions... 2.8 miles this time... Really enjoying hiking... Wish I had started this years ago... We’re doing it now so I guess that’s what matters the most...

Can't beat the view! Hiked trail 9 all the way to the top. Beautiful! Wouldn't necessarily call it moderate between sun, elevation, and incline. Bring water and sunscreen! But well worth it!

Went up trail 9 and down trail 4. It’s long but worth every view. It’s long so make sure you have plenty of water and snacks.

We hiked trail 4 from Cathedral Spires to trail 9. I imagine the views at the top are spectacular, but we were met with dense fog and 30 foot visibility. Still a gorgeous hike. We were also met with a family of Mule deer. This route took about 3 hours with a 30 minute snack break at the top.

Great hike. We hiked it on Memorial Day weekend. Lots of people on the trail. We took 9 up and 4 back down to the lake. 9 more heavily trafficked than 4. Beautiful view from lookout, great place to rest and have a lunch or snack break. Round trip took about 3 hours including one rest break at top. Spires off 4 beautiful to see. Drove a mile to Sylven Lake Lodge for drinks on patio after hike. Can’t really see lake from patio but still nice setting.

Amazing hike! Challenging when you are not a regular hiker but well worth the view at the top and the sense of accomplishment at the end. And we got to see a mountain goat at the top! What an awesome reward!

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