Hike 13 - Osprey Trail

There are so many places to hike in the Black Hills, and there were a number I wanted to try, but wasn’t sure my 8 year old would be up to hiking that far. Plus, I felt like I was dragging energy wise all week, but it was important to me to get in one more hike before we left South Dakota.


I originally planned to hike the Osprey trail the day we camped at Pactola Lake since this trail is right next to the campsite, but rain delayed this plan until later. This trail has a couple loops and another short trail we accidentally wandered down to make it about a 2.5 mile hike.

Hike #: 13

Trail: Osprey Trail

Location: Near Rapid City, South Dakota

Trail surface:

Date: 8/29/18


It was a warm day so it was nice to have shade, but there are plenty of open areas with full sun so you’ll want to make sure you have a hat and sunscreen. The trail was sometimes hard to find so I was grateful to be using the AllTrails app again to help us find one of the trail heads. As a side note, this app allows you to record your hike and gives you stats such as what your average time per mile was. Wish I discovered this earlier.


We saw a couple people on this trail, but for the most part we had it to ourselves which wins huge points for us. Also, having shade earns it points and it had a pretty view of the lake.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★

Riley: ★★


Hike 12 - Door and Notch Trails

 I’d been looking forward to our get away to South Dakota for some time. We visited in 2015 as a family (and Jesse went back with some friends in 2016 and 2017). We did all the touristy things last time and hoped to get off the beaten path a bit this time.

Last time we spent half a day in the Badlands and it wasn’t nearly enough time to explore. This time we spent about a day and a half which was fantastic, but we left so much of this national park unexplored.

It was a hot one while we were there, 90’s on up to 100, but we were determined to get outside and find some trails. I don’t do well hiking in hot weather so we went earlier in the day (and perhaps should have gotten out even earlier).

Hike #12: 

Trail: Door Trail and Notch Trail

Location: Badlands, South Dakota

Trail surface: some boardwalk on Door trail, and a ladder on Notch, but mostly rock.

Date: 8/26/18


We started with a geology tour that took us down the boardwalk of Door trail. We wandered out after that on the marked trail weaving on top of the eroded sedimentary rock distinctive of the Badlands. It was only a .8 mile trail so we headed down the road a little to Notch trail which is 1.2 miles.


Notch trail should probably be hiked by those 8 and older just because there is a ladder you need to climb followed by a narrow walking path with cliffs to the side. At the top awaits a beautiful view and most importantly a little breeze. It felt incredibly hot along the trail, but at the top it felt a little more like the 70 something degrees it was.  


While these were both short trails, together they made it long enough for me to consider it a hike. Additionally, there were some challenge points, such as not falling off a cliff. We all loved this hike, especially the ladder, but the heat made it a bit miserable at times.

Jo: ★★★★

Jesse: ★★★★

Riley: ★★★★★


Hikes that didn't make the cut...

Sometimes I go out for a walk that isn't quite enough to make my list, but has the potential if I had walked longer, or not been stopped by flooded trails and other obstacles. I thought it might be worth noting these from time to time as a lot of these are great places to explore.

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary


The Eloise Butler Wildflower path is within Theodore Wirth Parkway. We've been here a number of times, but I think it's best to come in the spring when more flowers are in bloom. We went the day after our Interstate Park hike hoping to get in some more steps. It was another hot day so walking around this garden was perfect since there is a lot of shade. I'd hoped to continue on the trail outside the wildflower garden, but it was just too hot which made this 'hike' a little too short to make the list. Make sure to bring your bug spray and binoculars  - there are plenty of benches to stop and watch the birds at.


Hidden Falls Regional Park


Riley and I attempted to check out this park while Jesse was out of town. It was the first time I really used my AllTrails app and I was happy to have it. We initially followed a trail, but then was blocked by a huge tree that came down over a walking bridge. We doubled back and I studied the app where I was able to identify another trail… which actually brought us to the hidden falls. Not sure if I would have found it on my own. I’d love to go back to this area after the bridge is repaired to explore the rest of the trail that we weren’t able to get to. The only downside to this trail was that there were a ton of bird sized mosquitoes near the falls.


Minnehaha Creek Preserve


I’ve been back and forth about whether I would call this a hike or not. I did put in 2 miles worth of walking, but it’s in a very compressed area so it’s not like I felt I went very far. This path mostly consists of boardwalk next to Methodist hospital and across Louisiana Blvd connected by a paved path. It’s a little hidden gem situated near the hospital and industrial buildings. The birds are plentiful here and you might momentarily feel like you are farther out in the country if it wasn’t for the hum of the cars on the nearby roads and lawn mowers blaring away.


Bass Lake Preserve


This trail is 1.4 miles which is why it didn’t make the main list, but it’s near our house and one that we’ve walked many times. Bass lake once was actually a lake, but was drained and then used as a dump. It was followed by a movement to preserve the area in some way. It’s now a wetland, and while it might not live up to it’s original glory, it is a beautiful walk where we often see a variety of birds.


Purgatory Park


Purgatory Park has about 2.2 miles worth of trails, but we did the 1.2 mile loop off the parking lot. I really liked this trail, but it was sooo hot this day. The trail is well maintained, and lightly traveled (at least when we were there). When I originally set this hiking challenge, I thought I would be doing more hiking on the outskirts of Minnesota or backpacking, but I’ve found that it’s introduced me to all sorts of fantastic trails close to home.


Rankin Ridge Trail


We found this trail while driving around Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. This trail was short and fairly easy, but was steep and had me huffing and puffing for a bit. We walked up the trail side to see the fire tower and the view and then walked down the service road just in time to miss the rain. We were able to see a bison snoozing in the grass on our way down which was a bonus you don’t have on every trail.


Sylvan Lake Trail


While on vacation in South Dakota, we took a walk around Sylvan Lake which is only about 1 mile. It does, however, have a number of trails that lead off of it so you could make it a much longer hike. While most of the path is paved, there are a lot of large rocks that you will be tempted to climb on so it’s still important to wear good sturdy shoes. We love this area so much that it’s our second time visiting as a family.


So I might not be getting in the big hikes, but we are still out walking and exploring the places around us and that’s what counts.