Explore the most popular river 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.

I went with a group of children as a camp leader. It was fun and easy, but extremely muddy, so be prepared!

Great variety of terrain. Easy up and down for moderately fit. Poles and two waters suggested.

We walked and rode bikes on this trail and we were amazed at the diversity in this reserve. The wild flowers at the beginning set the tone and the river walk was a perfect stroll through the flatlands of the area. Lots of deer and wild turkeys but sadly, the bison have been temporarily moved to greener pastures.

Beautiful and challenging hike. Some steep inclines. Beautiful scenery the entire way. Aside from the Black Elk overlook, there is another peak path that offshoots from the main path that contains some scampering opportunities. Good times all around. Do this trail.

I’m on this trail a lot for running, walking and biking. It’s fantastic. I just wish the city would be more consistent with bathroom quality and placement, and that they’d open them earlier in the mornings for early-rising runners.

Started from Willow Creek trailhead in horse camp vice the recommended start here. Note that the transition from trail 8 to Lost Cabin (trail 2?) is not marked, there is only a slight foot path that will lead you to a turnaround, and from there you turn left and jump on the trail. I had a good time on this hike, but I bumped it down to a 3 due to trail condition. Parts of Lost Cabin were so heavily grown over that it felt like bushwacking. Same with 9 north, though not nearly as bad. Hiked up and ran down as able in 6 hours. Start early to avoid the worst of the heat. No water sources except streams where you need to treat. Go upcreek to avoid the worst of the horse contamination. Have fun out there.

Stunning trail! I’m very uncoordinated, so the boulders near the water gave me some issues, but there are plenty of handrails to hold onto. Many water crossings and great views. Variations in terrain make this trail a lot of fun.

Only 2.8 miles even says that at the trail head and is listed as strenuous. A good trail did it counter clockwise and that is definitely the more difficult way. Not a good trail if you have little ones and dogs should NOT be allowed!

Absolutely the best trail system in the world.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful scenery; hands down one of my favorite trails in South Dakota!

Beautiful view at top!

Did this trail in reverse, up 9 and down 4. #9 was wide and in great condition; amazing views. #4 was narrow and less traveled but with some beautiful views of the Cathedral Spires. Took it slow and easy with my 4 year old hiking alongside. Round trip was about 4 hours.

Nice easy hike to end the day. Smooth wide pathway and some decking at the falls area for viewing. Pleasant and easy to access from the Spearfish Canyon Lodge.

One of the best hikes in the Black Hills.

Challenging but worth it!

hiking
8 days ago

Worth it.

Great trail with beautiful views. I did this with my 63 year old parents and while it did take a bit longer than expected everyone enjoyed it. Not much shade after the first couple of miles, so be prepared. I recommend packing a lunch and bringing plenty of water. Several great places near the fire tower at the summit to sit, eat and enjoy the views.

hiking
10 days ago

Super easy hike, Great little hike, quick and easy.

Did this trail and loved it. Great views

Great walk-in fishing for trout. Usually not crowded.

First time out there and trail 9 was everything we hoped it would be! Come prepared for some mud and an afternoon thunderstorm

What a great hike! I began at 5:45 pm tonight and made it up #4 in exactly 90 minutes (didn’t stop). I took #9 down and made it back with 45 minutes of daylight. The hike was worth every minute, and I only saw a total of six people on the entire hike.

Loved the trail; however we were unprepared to cross 4 bridges over rushing water. Good thing we could sit and scoot across! Also easy to get lost due to no signage to guide you. Hard to know which way to go!

This was an amazing trail to hike! My father and I spent the morning of our trip to the black hill here and couldn’t have asked for a better trail.

Beautiful trail with some picturesque views. We started out using Trail 4 from Sylvan Lake and looped around, coming back Trail 9 ending at Sylvan Lake. It took us 3.5 hrs (started at about 12:30p local) with several stops to complete our hike around the loop. Trail varies from rocky to mushy to dry and flat.
Well worth the hike. Come prepared for an afternoon thunderstorm that will last 1-3 hrs (we got the 2 hr variety). I am a fan of trekking poles and they helped greatly to negotiate the steep rocky inclines. As many others have noted, parking at Sylvan Lake can be problematic.

Paved hiking/bicycle path. Extremely easy. Parts were flooded. BUG SPRAY lots of mosquitos, prob due to so much standing water.

Very busy trail, but it is vacation season right now and also a weekend. Planning to go again closer to fall when there will hopefully be a few less people. This was a really enjoyable trail. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the views since it was so foggy. Just an extra reason to go back!

Fun trail with a lot of great views. A small section is aggressively uphill and wear you out if not prepared. The nature sounds are always present and views are spectacular for eastern South Dakota.

hiking
19 days ago

First, let me say that I consider myself a novice hiker. The types of hiking I normally enjoy are easy and very flat. I am also going to admit that I am 100 lbs overweight as well. Needless, to say I was more than a little concerned about whether or not I could complete this hike and the closer we got to the day we were to go, the more unsure I became.

My husband and my son both were looking forward to it and said that didn't want to do it without me. In hindsight I suppose I was taking a big risk in choosing to do this hike, but my husband said we would stop as many times as we needed to and take as much time as we needed. So, they convinced me.

I had done some research on this trail beforehand and looked at a lot of pictures as well. I have to say that it really did look intriguing. We have a medium sized dog, she weighs about 50 lbs that would be going with us and after reading several reviews by other people who had taken dogs on this hike, I decided we should go counter-clockwise around, starting with the boulders first. I figured it would be a lot easier, for me at least, and for our dog as well, to climb DOWN the boulders instead of up.

It was somewhat confusing at first trying to figure out which way to go because the actual signs for the trail point to the LEFT, but if you go to the left you will be doing the trail CLOCKWISE, which is fine, if you want to be climbing UP a bunch a boulders after you have already hiked 3 miles. We finally figured out we needed to go to the right to begin the trail when we went down some steps and around a corner where we found a posted map of the hike.

So, on to the hike! Going down the boulders was actually pretty fun! There were areas where we had to step in or wade through some running water. After climbing down all of the boulders, the hike wound around the gulch and was very scenic with a lot of rock formations, trees, running water and even a cave! At one point there was a steep set of stairs we had to climb down, so if you are going clockwise, you will have to go UP these stairs.

Eventually, what go goes down, must go up and so did we. This is when it started to get pretty difficult for me. I had to stop A LOT but my husband and my son were very patient and waited for me until I could continue. I did reach a point when it was no longer fun, I was exhausted and wanted it to be over. My son noticed that we were very close to the road. He said maybe he and I should hike up to the road and wait for my husband to go back to the car and then pick us up on the side of the road. Bless his heart,. I should have done as he suggested, but no, I didn't want to be a quitter, so I went on. Little did I know at the time that we still had about an hour to go.

I am happy to say, however, that I MADE IT!!! It took us about 4 hours to complete. My husband and my son were proud of me and I was even pretty proud of myself! My legs were very sore for the next few days, so needless to say, this was the only hike we did while we were in the Black Hills. I read one review that actually said, "if you only have time for 1 hike, do this one", so I did and I am glad I did.

Next time we go to the Black Hills, I will be have lost weight and be in better shape so that I can do some of the other hikes too! :)

Great family hike. Alot of fun crossing the creek, great way to stay cool.

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