Are you looking for beautiful scenic trails for hiking in South Dakota?
Then you’ve come to the right place!
South Dakota is a state in the Midwest that is full of stunning landscapes that you can hike through.
In fact, South Dakota is probably best known for all of its beautiful parks, hiking trails, and outdoor activities.
Hiking in South Dakota is one of the best ways to see explore some of the coolest things to do in South Dakota.
You’ll be able to hike near Mount Rushmore, hike the trails of the Badlands or the Black Hills, and so much more.
If you want to really enjoy the beautiful landscapes of South Dakota, you can turn your hiking trip into a South Dakota camping trip!
One thing is for sure, once you see the beautiful trails on this list, you’ll want to pack your bags.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful and scenic trails for hiking in South Dakota!
15 Scenic Trails For Hiking In South Dakota
Hike The Notch Trail In South Dakota’s Badlands National Park
When you visit South Dakota, one of the best things to see is Badlands National Park.
Hiking in Badlands National Park is a pretty popular SD activity.
The Notch Trail is a popular hiking trail in SD.
It’s rated as a fairly easy hike that is 1.5 miles round trip.
As you hike, you’ll ascend about 180 feet.
A lot of the upwards hike is actually stairs, and it’s suggested you wear sturdy shoes for this hike.
That’s because there are some rocky portions, and the stairs are just logs on the side of the hill.
You can expect to spend about an hour on this hiking trail in South Dakota, and it’s totally worth it.
The Cathedral Spires Trail Is One Of The Best Trails For Hiking In South Dakota
One of the most popular Custer State Park hiking trails is the Cathedral Spires Trail.
The Cathedral Spires Trail is rated as a moderate to strenuous hike.
So it’s probably best if you have a bit more hiking experience if you want to hike this trail.
It’s an in-and-out trail that is just over 1.5 miles one way.
That means if you hike to the end of the trail and then turn back around, you’ll end up hiking for about 3 miles.
What makes this Custer State Park hiking trail a bit more difficult is the terrain.
There are areas on the trail where you will literally be climbing over boulders and rocks.
However, if you think that sounds fun, then you’ll love this trail. It has some beautiful views and is definitely a challenge!
Custer State Park is located next to one of the coolest small towns in South Dakota!
The Door Trail Is An Easy Hike In The Badlands
If you are looking for an easy hiking trail in SD that gives you epic views of the Badlands, then this one is for you.
The Door Trail is a fairly easy 1-mile roundtrip hiking trail.
You can expect to spend about 30 minutes hiking this trail in the Badlands.
Part of the trail is on a boardwalk that takes you through the natural passageway that gives the trail its name.
At the end of the trail, you’ll get to enjoy epic views of eroded canyons in Badlands National Park.
This is a great trail for beginners that want an easy hike and epic views!
You don’t want to miss out as this is one of the best places to visit in the Midwest!
Lover’s Leap Trail Is A Popular Hiking Trail In South Dakota
The Lover’s Leap Trail is a fairly difficult hiking trail in the Black Hills.
It’s a 3-mile loop that takes you on the edge of rocky cliffs and up steep hills.
However, despite it being fairly difficult, it’s a really popular Black Hills hiking trail.
From the highest point of the trail, you’ll see some of the most iconic natural structures in the Black Hills.
You’ll be able to see the Cathedral Spires, Mount Coolidge, and Harney Peak.
As you hike downhill, you’ll have to cross a small creek several times.
So make sure you’re wearing waterproof hiking boots!
Even when the water in the creek bed is low, it can be pretty rough to cross it.
This is one of the things that makes the trail’s rating ‘difficult’ and why only skilled hikers should take on the Lover’s Leap Trail in the Black Hills.
See Mount Rushmore Upclose On The Presidential Trail Loop
The Presidential Trail Loop is an easy SD hiking trail.
In fact, because it’s so well maintained and paved, it’s often considered one of the best hikes in South Dakota!
The entire family can enjoy this easy trail that is less than a mile long.
Most people only spend about 20 minutes hiking this trail since it’s so easy to navigate.
It’s super popular, so prepare to potentially deal with some crowds.
Throughout the trail, you’ll find informational plaques that explain the history of the area.
You’ll also get some great views of Mount Rushmore!
If you’re looking for a quick and easy SD hiking trail with great views, then try hiking the Presidential Loop Trail.
There are so many things to do in Custer SD. If you have time, do not skip it!
The Sylvan Lake Shore Trail Is An Easy Trail For Hiking In South Dakota
The Sylvan Lake Shore Trail is another easy trail in SD.
It’s a 1-mile loop that is relatively flat for most of the hike.
Because it’s rated as easy, the entire family can enjoy this South Dakota hiking trail!
The trail loops around the entirety of Sylvan Lake, which is a beautiful area of Custer State Park.
It’s also one of the best Custer State Park hiking trails to explore.
You’ll get to enjoy picturesque views of the Black Hills, Sylvan Lake, and the nearby fields.
This easy trail is one of the best hiking trails in SD thanks to its abundance of beautiful views.
One Of The Best Spearfish Canyon Hiking Trails Is The Devil’s Bathtub
The Devil’s Bathtub trail is a super popular Spearfish Canyon hiking trail.
One thing to keep in mind though is that this is a very wet hike.
As you hike to the Devil’s Bathtub, you’ll have to cross several streams.
So, make sure you’re wearing waterproof hiking boots!
This rough terrain also makes it a more moderate hike. This means that it’s not good for beginners or young children.
However, if you have the skill or desire to hike this fairly rough trail, you’ll be greatly rewarded.
If the water levels are high enough, you can even take a quick dip into the Devil’s Bathtub itself!
Roughlock Falls Trail Is An Easy Hiking Trail In South Dakota
Another great Spearfish Canyon hiking trail is the Roughlock Falls Trail.
This SD hiking trail is rated as easy though, so the whole family can enjoy it.
Round trip, you’ll walk about 2 miles on this trail.
It’s one of the most visited areas of South Dakota, so be prepared for some crowds on pretty days.
However, the beautiful scenic views along the easy route make it totally worth it.
Along the way, you’ll get to see the Roughlock Falls, walk across a sturdy boardwalk, and even rare wildlife.
Roughlock Falls Trail is one of the few places in South Dakota where you can see the rare American Dipper. The American Dipper is a rare bird species that can swim underwater.
The Roughlock Falls Trail is easily one of the best hiking in South Dakota experiences.
Buzzards Roost Is One Of The Best Rapid City Hiking Trails
There are so many fun things to do in Rapid City! One of them is definitely going for a hike.
One of the best Rapid City hiking trails is the Buzzards Roost Trail.
You’ll find it about 5 miles west of Rapid City in the Black Hills National Forest.
It’s actually a trailhead that leads to 10 different trails that loop together.
Those 10 trails vary in difficulty, so make sure to do a bit of research before you decide which one to explore.
No matter which of the looping trails you end up following, you’ll get to enjoy some beautiful scenic views.
Whether it’s looking out onto the rolling Black Hills or simply enjoying the peaceful and quiet dense woods.
After a day of Rapid City hiking, you’ll be able to head back into town to explore the many restaurants in Rapid City and more fun activities.
The Little Elk Creek Trail Is A Moderately Difficult Trail For Hiking In SD
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, you may enjoy hiking in South Dakota on the Little Elk Creek Trail.
You’ll find it near Piedmont, South Dakota, in the Black Hills.
It’s one of the more popular Black Hills hiking trails in the area. And one of the cool trails for hiking in the Midwest!
Little Elk Creek Trail is an in-and-out trail, which means you’ll hike to the end and then turn back around to leave.
If you hike the entire length of the trail, it’s about 5 miles long.
Because of its length and moderate difficulty, you can expect to spend at least 2 hours on this Black Hills hiking trail.
However, it’s totally worth it for the views alone!
Stratobowl Rim Trail Is An Easy Dirt Road Hiking Trail In South Dakota
The Stratobowl Rim Trail is a very easy SD hiking trail.
For the entire trail, you’ll be walking on a fairly level and well-maintained dirt road.
The hike is about 1 mile long and at the end, you’ll find yourself on the cliffs that overlook the Stratobowl.
Depending on when you visit, you might get to watch some hot air balloons take off from the Stratobowl.
It’s also a very popular place to view the sunset on a pretty day.
As you walk this hiking trail in SD, you’ll see fields of wildflowers, tall grasses, and massive pine trees.
The Stratobowl Rim Trail is super easy and has beautiful views, which makes it one of the best hikes in South Dakota.
Admire The Views On The Spearfish Canyon Floor Nature Hiking Trail
Another super easy SD hiking trail is the Spearfish Canyon Floor Nature Hiking Trail.
At less than a mile long, it only takes about 20 minutes to complete this hike in South Dakota.
While you’re hiking, you’ll get to see a small creek and a waterfall against the backdrop of the mountains.
Because of the unpredictable weather, the best time to enjoy this hiking trail is from March to October.
Outside of then, you may encounter some snow or ice conditions that make the trail a little more difficult.
However, it is still manageable, just make sure to be a bit more careful while you hike.
This super easy hike is one of the best hikes in South Dakota for all skill levels and ages.
Hike Up To The Summit Of Bear Butte
The hike to the summit of Bear Butte is just over 3 miles long but totally worth it.
Bear Butte State Park is just east of the Black Hills and it’s a pretty popular South Dakota State Park.
Despite being a popular park, the actual trail up to the summit of Bear Butte is typically not very crowded.
That is partly because it’s a long trail, and it’s a bit more moderately difficult than some others in the park.
However, if you have the skills or desire to do this hike in SD, it’s totally worth the effort.
All along the trail, you’ll get to enjoy some beautiful scenic views.
From sweeping plains to rocky cliffsides, this hiking trail in South Dakota is epic.
Go Hiking In South Dakota On The Rankin Ridge Interpretive Trail
You’ll find the Rankin Ridge Interpretive Trail near Custer, SD.
It’s actually located within Wind Cave National Park, one of the best National Parks in South Dakota.
This SD hiking trail is a 1-mile loop that takes about 30 minutes to complete.
While you hike the loop, you’ll see beautiful views of the valley below and the dense woods around you.
It’s a fairly easy gravel trail that is well maintained.
The Rankin Ridge Interpretive Trail follows the ridge of the mountain and is a pretty popular place to hike in SD.
So, depending on when you visit, you might experience some crowds.
However, there are quieter parts of the day when you’ll be practically alone.
Enjoy Sweeping Views On The Stockade Lake Trail
The Stockade Lake Trail can be found just outside of Custer, SD.
It’s a loop trail that is just under a mile and a half long that is rated as moderately difficult.
Because of its difficulty and length, you can expect to be hiking on this trail for just under an hour.
As you hike the trail, you’ll walk through a dense ponderosa pine forest.
When you make it to the top of the ridge, you’ll have sweeping views of the valley below.
In the valley, you’ll see Stockade Lake, which gives the trail its name.
As you hike back down the trail, you’ll cross the lake before coming back to the trailhead.
While it is an uphill hiking trail in SD, it’s worth the effort for the views alone!
Packing List When HIking In South Dakota
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing when exploring the hiking trails in South Dakota.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when visiting Rapid City. It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies during all your hiking in South Dakota.
I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. . No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors!
There are so many beautiful places to go hiking in South Dakota!
South Dakota is a state full of beautiful landscapes and some truly epic hikes and would make a spectacular Midwest weekend getaway!
No matter which of these hiking trails in South Dakota you decide to explore, you’ll enjoy it.
One of the best things about South Dakota hiking trails is that they come in all difficulty levels.
So whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk or something a bit more challenging, the trails on this list are some of the best hikes in South Dakota!