Hiking is a huge pastime of mine. It connects me with nature and helps to ease my stresses from the work week. Hiking is said to have incredible health benefits. According to Abigail Wise of the Huffington Post, “Just one hour of trekking can burn well over 500 calories, depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying.” Hiking can reduce your risk of heart disease, improve blood sugar and pressure levels, increase bone density, increase strength in your legs and hips, enhance your mood by reducing stress and anxiety, enhance your balance, and help with weight management. If hiking wasn’t good enough on its own, here are five places in South Dakota to go hiking that you will never forget.

1 – MOUNT RUSHMORE TO HORSETHIEF LAKE
This is an easy, single directional trail that starts at Mount Rushmore and ends at Horsethief Lake. Some trails connect to the end of this trip.

2 – KING AND QUEEN ROCK TRAIL
King and Queen Rock Trail are in Palisades State Park. There are massive rocks and boulders forming along the beautiful Split Rock Creek. This is a short trail but is wonderful to see the Sioux rose quartz that make up the rocks as you pass by. You will be speechless!

3 – SUNDAY GULCH TRAIL
Sunday Gulch Trail is for intermediate to expert trail hikers. It passes through streams and rivers, goes through gigantic rock formations, and heads past huge walls of stone. The views are unforgettable but this is a trail for the daring!

4 – HARNEY PEAK TRAILS
Harney Peak is a trail that can be accessed by the Mount Rushmore to Horsethief Lake trail. It is the highest natural point in South Dakota and is great for photo-ops. It is located in the Black Hills National Forest. There is a tower at the top of the mountain. Make sure to bring sight-seeing gear, as this is on the National Historic Lookout Register.

5 – SYLVAN LAKE SHORE TRAIL
The Sylvan Lake Shore Trail takes hikers around the entirety of Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. There are gargantuan granite rocks that you can climb on. Make sure to get there early for the sunrise!

Hiking in South Dakota is unlike any other state in the U.S. South Dakota trails have picturesque scenery and is exciting to trek at all times throughout the year. Visit my home state of South Dakota for an experience you will never forget!