Winter Fun: Snowshoeing
The Black Hills are full of incredible outdoor recreation, even in the winter months. In fact, you’re less likely to run into crowded trails in the winter, which means you can fully immerse yourself in nature. One way to get out and about this winter is to try snowshoeing. It’s a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the beautiful Black Hills.
Snowshoeing in the Black Hills really is as simple as hiking but allows you to see nature from a whole new perspective. A fresh coat of snow makes the hills glisten in the sun and the crisp winter air lets you hear the natural sounds of the forest you miss in the summer.
If you don’t have snowshoes, there are several places in the Black Hills you can rent them. On base, head to Outdoor Recreation for both daily and seasonal options. You can also check snowshoes out for free at three state parks: Custer State Park Visitor Center, Spearfish Canyon Nature Area near Roughlock Falls, and the Mickelson Trail. Read more about snowshoeing in South Dakota State Parks before you go to see what your options are. The parks also host guided snowshoe hikes throughout the winter. Dates and times are posted on the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks website.
If you want to get out and explore on your own, your best bet is to head north. The northern Black Hills get more snow on average, so most of the good snowshoeing trails will be found around Deadwood and Spearfish. Trails in the southern hills are worth checking out after a good snow as well, but you might have to act fast before it melts.
These are some of the top trails for snowshoeing you should try:
- Spearfish Canyon. Beautiful any time of year, the canyon is a winter wonderland after a snow. Beginners should check out the Roughlock Falls Trail or Iron Creek Trail for incredible views and easy terrain.
- Big Hill. This trailhead is eight miles southwest of Spearfish and offers loops of varying lengths and difficulty. In the winter, some of the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing, which the forest service requests snowshoers not use. The trails should be marked, or you can use this map to find the appropriate sections of trail.
- Crow Peak. This 3.2 mile trek has more advanced terrain and includes an elevation gain of 1,500 feet, but the views at the top are worth the effort!
- George S. Mickelson Trail. The entire trail is over 100 miles long, but you can start at any of the dozen or so trailheads throughout the Black Hills. This trail was once a railroad track and the terrain is fairly gradual, which makes it great for beginners or kids. You will need to pay for a trail pass; they’re $4 for the day or $15 for the year.