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The 15 Best Mountain Trails in South Dakota

From its rolling hills to the beautiful mountain trails, South Dakota is a state full of diverse and majestic landscapes. In recent years it’s become a popular destination for outdoor adventurers from all over the country, who come seeking an escape from their daily lives and the chance to explore some of the best mountains in America. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a more rugged challenge, there are plenty of options available – with something that should fit everyone’s needs!

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring 15 of South Dakota’s most stunning mountain ranges. Read on to find out which one might provide you with your next unforgettable journey into nature!

The Best Mountain Trails in South Dakota

Black Elk Peak Trailhead

  • Address: Sylvan Lake – Harney, Keystone, SD 57751, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.9 (625)
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Tuesday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Thursday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Friday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Saturday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Sunday: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Best mountain trail in South Dakota
Best mountain trail in South Dakota

5 Replies to The 15 Best Mountain Trails in South Dakota

  1. Such an excellent hike!! So long but very worth it and not too tiring. The views were absolutely unreal. Definitely a must do if you’re in the area!!

  2. Honestly had an amazing time walking the many trails here!

    If you’re able, start early. Like 7-8AM. On any day of the week. It gets CROWDED, we had trouble leaving the parking lot it was so packed.

    Lots of families, though some of the trails were intense inclines!

    Beautiful landscape and the lake is wonderful!

  3. Great hike! Beautiful views along the way and at the top. I made a loop starting on Trail #4 from Sylvan Lake and returning on Trail #9. It’s a long hike, so bring some food and plenty of water!

  4. This was my main destination on my road trip. Did not disappoint. It is $10 to park. There is a main viewing area and museum, as well as a gift shop, book store and small cafe and ice cream shop. Did not hike the presidential trail as my feet were still sore from a earlier hike that morning. Definitely worth a stop if driving by or as a main destination stop

  5. Great hike to the highest point in SD. It’s not very long and didn’t feel like a major elevation gain. The trail had a variety of trees, rocks and meadows. I love how this trail connects to little devil’s tower and cathedral spires. Make sure to explore when you get to the top – there’s a lot to see.

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Top 15 Scenic Mountains in South Dakota

Best mountain trail in South Dakota
Best mountain trail in South Dakota

Notch Trailhead

  • Address: SD-240, Interior, SD 57750, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.9 (249)
  • Website: Link
  • Reviews:
    Great hike! We went early in the morning and while there was a decent amount of people I wouldn’t call it crowded. Pretty flat the whole time with some steep drop offs after the ladder. We brought our 4 year old and he was able to do the whole thing.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Brandon Oxton (3 months ago)
    Oh so good even though they call it bad. The loop provides a great drive through experience with good access for those with limited mobility. It also offers short day hikes from easy to slightly challenging. I recommend the Notch trail all the way to the end (if you don’t have a fear of heights). I saw a lot of wildlife towards sunset; bison, mountain goats, big horn sheep, and of course prairie dogs. Totally worth the trip!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Stephen (5 months ago)
    Great place to climb up for an amazing view.
    It is kinda of funny what people think is proper footwear.. flip flops, shower shoes, little strap sandals. It works out fine because they can only go so far. Makes the holes quiet for those prepared
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Len Poole (4 months ago)
    I did not complete the whole trail. though It’s just 1.5 miles round trip and features a walk through a scenic canyon, a climb upon a wooden ladder, and a brief walk along a cliff trail (i researched the place wherever I go) but it was too hot and dry and after 15 minutes into it, I decided to return and I guess that was my best decision for that day. though we were carrying water and all, I did not feel like it.

    I was eagerly waiting for particularly this trail before the trip, especially that wooden ladder. nevermind, there is always the next time.

    Tip: The Notch Trail, Door Trail, and Window Trail all start from the same parking lot.

    ✭✭✭✭ By Sanjay Gupta (5 months ago)
    Fabulous views. Not a very long trail, but could be difficult for those afraid of heights. The trail includes climbing a ladder and hiking along the cliffs edge. Leads to the ‘notch’ with an amazing view.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Casey Goldschmidt (5 months ago)

Buzzard’s Roost trailhead

  • Address: SD-44, Rapid City, SD 57702, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (152)
  • Reviews:
    Amazing trail and views! Wide hiking trail and single track for biking/hiking going all over! Path to the overlook isn’t marked and is just past the sign!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Jordan The Rock (a month ago)
    Hiked, easier trails, beautiful views.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Sheri Zeiders (2 months ago)
    My favorite place to hike. One of the best views near Rapid City.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Casey Roskam (6 months ago)
    Best spot to go for a quick hike that’s less than 30 mins from Rapid! So many options for all levels of outdoorsy people.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Daniel Ratiu (2 months ago)
    Really well maintained
    Great variety of interconnected trails which allows for varying degrees of difficulty and length (pick your own adventure)
    Beautiful views from the top and throughout
    Short drive from town
    Good place to see native flora and fauna

    Close to the highway, traffic can be heard quite frequently
    Popular! Can be crowded at certain times (like weekend afternoons)

    ✭✭✭✭ By Ben Shreves (3 years ago)

Saddle Pass Trailhead

  • Address: SD-240, Interior, SD 57750, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (101)
  • Website: Link
  • Reviews:
    Super short trail that goes straight up the rocks! I definitely recommend good tread on your shoes to navigate the incline and decline with the loose rocks. We took the medicine root trail and the castle trail to make a loop that would extend the length of our hike. Hiking poles might be a good idea if you’re nervous
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Morghan Townsend (6 months ago)
    It’s very short and scenic, but very challenging. You better have hiking rods, or you could only slide downhill, that will be too scary. Better wear long pants, in case hurting yourself while sliding.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Sabrina Huang (7 months ago)
    If you are ready for an advanced climb or hike then this is the trail you must do.
    We did not complete it all the way to the top. I would recommend shoes if you are planning the trail to the top.
    It would take approximately 90 minutes if you are planning to complete the roundtrip trail.
    Parking space is very limited at this point.
    Visited on 12 June, temperature was in the higher 80s to low 90s.
    Restroom : No

    TIP: Share the presence of wildlife with fellow visitors, especially rattle snakes as they might take shade under the boardwalk.

    ✭✭✭✭ By Avinash Deshmukh (5 months ago)
    Fun and challenging hike, it is short to get to the top and have great views. However keep in mind that hiking in the badlands is very hot. I was driving a 32 foot RV and there wasn’t any convenient parking here for it. We parked on the side of the road and that worked out well. We found that coming down was fairly slippery and had to pay special attention to it footing.
    ✭✭✭✭ By Matt Zealand (a year ago)
    We went up this trailhead then did about a 5 mile loop with medicine root tail out to castle trail on way back. It was steep on way up but breathtaking. It was great to get out and see everything on foot, but also wasn’t too long in the hot sun. There was loose gravel that was a little troubling on way down. Nobody slipped but we took it really slow. We could have always sat and scooted down but we didn’t need to.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Rachel Grady (a year ago)

Deadwood Trailhead George S. Mickelson Trail

  • Address: Deadwood, SD 57732, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (99)
  • Phone: +1 605-584-3896
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Tuesday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Thursday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Friday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Saturday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Sunday: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Beautiful segment of the trail, passing informational posters about the mining in the area and dome history related to the former stage coach route. You can also see a good amount of the old Railroad tracks still intact in this segment (not so on other parts.) This is a great place to start the trail as you go uphill in this direction, making thr retun trip all downhill. There are vault toilets at the trailhead and you can pay either the daily or annual fee as well (make sure you have cash with you). We traveled past the Kirk trailhead and back (about 8 or 9 miles rt).
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By K G (6 months ago)
    Nothing bad to say about this place. Possibility to refill water bottles. Public restrooms are close. Kind of large parking lot.

    A pen would be a nice addition to the trail pass box for those who don’t have one with them.

    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Bala Bub (2 years ago)
    Beautiful trailhead to get out on and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. As a local, I’m very fortunate to have the Mickelson Trail in my backyard!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Cindy McDow (a year ago)
    Really nice trail. The scenery is beautiful. The trail does have quite a bit of elevation gain.
    ✭✭✭✭ By Jerry Kennedy (a year ago)
    Great trail with excellent scenery and be careful of the loose gravel.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By William Sowle (a year ago)

Lookout Mountain Trail

  • Address: Spearfish, SD 57783, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (87)

Crow Peak Trailhead

  • Address: Spearfish, SD 57783, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (57)

Lovers Leap Trailhead

  • Address: US-16A, Custer, SD 57730, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (56)

Flume Hiking Trail

  • Address: 12979-23712 Pot Rustle Loop, Rapid City, SD 57702, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (53)

M Hill

  • Address: Rapid City, SD 57701, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (52)

Hell Canyon Trail

  • Address: Custer, SD 57730, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (40)

Osprey Hiking Trail

  • Address: Rapid City, SD 57702, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (37)

Big Hill Trailhead

  • Address: Tinton Rd, Spearfish, SD 57783, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (32)

Iron Creek Trail

  • Address: Lead, SD 57754, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (28)

Kirk Trail Head, George S Mickelson Trail

  • Address: George S. Mickelson Trail, Lead, SD 57754, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (28)

Centennial Trail #89

  • Address: Fairburn, SD 57738, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.9 (8)
Best mountain trail in South Dakota
Best mountain trail in South Dakota

Thank you for reading! If you have any additional information on the best scenic mountains in South Dakota, please leave a comment above. We would love to hear from you!

Posted by
Kazan Aldrich

I used to be a pilot, but ended up being just a mediocre writer.