Many put their South Dakota travel destination on a pause during the winter months as the inevitable “Old Man Winter” tends to be a bit of a detour. Short days and long nights along with the sight of one’s own breath may be a bit alarming for some, however; winter in the Black Hills is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit. White blankets of snow cover the hills and ponderosa pines seem to tower higher than ever with their green tops contrasting the untouched pure white below. Pine needles sparkle and glisten with a fresh morning frost as the sunlight peeks through the hillsides. The Black Hills welcome all winter enthusiasts and those skeptical of a South Dakota winter to embrace the season and allow nature to provide the beauty and fun.
Snowshoeing in the Black Hills brings out the best in nature and one’s own spirit. One of the very best things about snowshoeing is the availability to explore the backwoods and nature in a more intimate and exclusive manner than other winter sports, such as skiing and snowmobiling. There are many places a snowshoe adventure can take someone that even the cross-country ski or snowmobile excursion cannot. Accessibility to the back-country allows a more peaceful adventure and connection to the outdoor surroundings.
Snowshoeing doesn’t require the expertise of skiing or ice-climbing, instead, it brings a peaceful adventure for those who want to get outdoors but would rather keep the activities a bit simpler. Needless to say, snowshoeing doesn’t lack in exercise. Shuffling through deep packs of snow is an exceptional workout, if you’d rather keep it easy, stay on relatively flat trails or paths.
The Black Hills National Forest offers over 60 miles of snowshoeing trails in the thousands of acres that await your outdoor adventure. Check out these locations listed below (of course, these are just a selection to choose from) for a variation of trails and paths to consider on your Black Hills snowshoe adventure:
- For an easy route that is suitable for all ages, try a section of the 109 mile long Mickelson Trail. With 15 trail heads, the trail is easily accessible.
- The Centennial Trail may be 111 miles long but many access points are available from Bear Butte Lake to Wind Cave National Park. The trek is a bit more rugged but allows more of an intimate and challenging outing in nature.
- Spearfish Canyon gives the option between easy and delightful trails to steep and rugged paths between canyon walls. Whichever you choose, Spearfish Canyon is one of the most beautiful winter spots in the Black Hills.
- Custer State Park has numerous hiking trails that may be used equally as a snowshoe path. When choosing your path, be sure that your physical ability matches to the difficulty match on the hiking guide for the trail. Snowshoeing on a moderately difficult hike could easily be a strenuous snowshoe adventure while trekking through powder on a hillside.
Before you head out for the day (or night, as full moon snowshoe hikes are impressive and alluring), be sure to have waterproof boots and dress in layers as winters in the Black Hills are unpredictable. If you are traveling from afar, there are many resorts and hotels to choose from to snuggle up and get cozy after your wintry outdoor adventure. And remember, it doesn’t matter what trail you choose to travel the forest, the path will be nature’s delight.