Top 7 Black Hills Family Hikes

by Josh on September 6, 2012

children hiking in the Black Hills

The Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are a perfect family destination.  There are great parks, museums, campgrounds, national monuments, weather and more.

We’ve called the Black Hills home for more than a decade, but it still feels like we are on vacation every time we get out and explore the area.  We are always finding something new and exciting.

This is a collection of our Top 7 family hikes in the area.  Trails perfect for most everyone.  Trails that you just take your time and enjoy the journey.  The trail your kids will be talking about months after you’ve been there.

7. Alkali Creek Nature Trail

This short half-mile trail is just off Interstate 90 at exit 34 in the Fort Meade Recreation Area.  The trail takes you through timber and prairie, plus you get great views of Bear Butte.  There is even a campground if you want to call this home for the night.

6.  Little Spearfish Falls

Here is another half-mile loop trail that is sure to please.  Located in Spearfish Canyon at Savoy,  the short hike behind the Latchstring Inn takes you to a 70-foot waterfall.  A great place to take that family picture and enjoy the sound of the falling water.

5. Mount Rooseveltimage friendship tower at Mount Roosevelt

This is a 3/4 mile loop trail just outside of Deadwood South Dakota.  The views from the trail are just amazing,  many of the area’s peaks are visible – plus views to the North of the expansive prairie.  Bonus,  Friendship Tower!  The whole family can climb the 32 foot tower, our kids love to go there.

4. Devils Bathtub

This is the best “hot day hike” in the hills.  Scramble up the creek to find three natural tubs, just waiting for you to jump in them.  The water is always cold and everyone will remember the fun.  Be sure to keep Spearfish Canyon hiking high on your vacation “to do” list.

3.  Roughlock Trail

This is a gentle 0ne mile trial just behind Spearfish Canyon Lodge.  Take time to watch for wildlife and look for unique plants along the trail.  At the end you will find Roughlock Falls, one of the most popular falls in Spearfish Canyon.  Be sure to visit the falls in the winter.

2. Tower Trail – Devils Towerphoto Devils Tower National Monument

I love to visit Devil’s Tower National Monument.  This is just such a fascinating natural formation.  The Tower Trail is just over one mile long and circles the Monument.  It you want a longer hike, the Red Beds Trail is a 3 mile loop.  After all that hiking, swing through Hulett and stop at the Pondo for the best burger in Wyoming.

1.  Presidential Trail – Mount Rushmore

If you are going to be in the Black Hills, you have to visit Mount Rushmore.  Stroll down the avenue of flags and view the faces from the Grand View Terrace.  Then get even closer on the Presidential Trail, don’t take the stroller though.  The trail has lots of stairs and will take you to the historic Sculptor’s Studio.

Be Prepared

Always pack plenty of snacks and water.  Most trails do not have fresh water and kids are always hungry.  The weather can change quickly in the Black Hills, so bring extra clothes.

All trails may not be suitable for all people.  I don’t take my small children on a hike, unless I know I can carry them the entire time.  Let the children decide, if they are tired – try the hike again some other time.

To navigate the Black Hills I strongly encourage you to have a good map.  The Black Hills National Forest Map Pack: Topographic Trail Maps is my favorite, these water proof maps are very useful.  A guide book like Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills can make planning you day easier.

Remember the Black Hills is also home to the 109-mile Mickelson Trail.  This former railroad turned bike trail starts in Deadwood and cut through the Black Hills to Edgemont.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

David Irwin September 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm

You left out the Spearfish bike/walking path that goes by the park, the fish hatchery, several smaller parks with swings, and meanders along Spearfish Creek.


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