Forget the fuzzy-lined slippers, welcome new adventures by sliding your foot into a snowshoe this winter. This easy and inexpensive activity is fun for all ages and leads you straight into the untouched wonders of the Black Hills. With a variety of trails to explore in the area, snowshoeing is a great way to stay active while also appreciating the beauty of the winter season.
EQUIPMENT You'll need to Float on Snow
If you are new to the activity, or don’t have room to pack your own, there are plenty of locations where you can rent snowshoes. A few of the area state parks and nature areas like Custer State Park, George S. Mickelson Trail and the Spearfish Canyon Nature Area check out snowshoes. Some locations even host guided snowshoe tours throughout the winter. In Rapid City, Outdoor Campus West offers snowshoe checkouts and trails right on site for you to take them for a spin.
Wearing layers of clothing is an important aspect when snowshoeing in the Black Hills. Rapid City temperatures can differ from those in the hills so make sure you are prepared for cooler or possibly even warmer weather. With layers you can add or remove as necessary. While snowshoes can adjust to almost any type of boot, you’ll want to make sure you are wearing some that fit comfortably and keep your feet dry. Wool or synthetic socks are also important to wear while snowshoeing. Other recommended items to have include hiking poles with snow baskets, sunglasses, and a warm hat and gloves. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water, even if the weather is cooler, you’ll still work up a thirst.
TRAILS worthy of wondering
Great snowshoeing trails can be found all throughout the Black Hills, and each one is an easy drive from Rapid City. Before heading out on your adventure, make sure the trail you are exploring isn’t groomed for cross country skiing. The prints left by snowshoes ruin the trail for skiers.
Here are a few trails I recommend trying out!
Eagle Cliff Trailheads
Located in the Northern Hills – Spearfish area, the trail system of Eagle Cliff provides options for your outdoor adventure. With twenty-one looping and dead-end trails you can explore for hours at this one location. Trail range and difficulty vary depending on the route you take, plus a large portion of the trail system is groomed for cross country skiers only. This map will help you determine where to explore!
Deerfield Lake Loop Trailheads
Located in the Central Hills is the Deerfield Lake Loop Trailheads. This trail system is great to explore if you are new to snowshoeing. Enjoy views of Deerfield Lake from Reynolds Prairie as you wrap around the lake, other portions of the trail will weave through ponderosa pines and peaceful meadows. There are four trailheads that lead to this trail so make sure you know which point you want to start and end on before heading out!
Big Hill Trailhead
Also located in the Northern Hills – Spearfish area, is the Big Hill Trail System. This area has a trail designated just to snowshoeing you can find on this map and trails will be clearly marked when you arrive. On this trail you’ll march right into the beauty of the hills which is, in my opinion, accentuated in the winter season.
George Mickelson Trail
The George Mickelson Trail is a popular trail to explore for locals and visitors during the summer and fall, a trend that continues for many into the winter. You can sign out snowshoes from the trail office located in Lead before heading out to the trailhead you want to start from. You can’t go wrong with any starting point as this trail cuts through some breathtaking portions of the forest that truly shine when covered in a blanket of snow.
Where to Warm up after
The perfect place to get toasty is waiting in Rapid City, here are three of my favorites. Soup season is always on at Bokujo and their tasty bowls of ramen are just what any winter explorer needs after a day on the trails. Warmth can also be found with a glass of bourbon or specialty cocktail from the Windsor Block. Their cozy atmosphere allows you to melt away into total relaxation. Lastly, you can't go wrong with fresh pastries and steaming tea or a hot apple cider from Pure Bean Coffeehouse.
Rapid City is surrounded by some unreal parks and monuments, all of which stay open all year round. The beauty and quietness that settle with the snow at these popular places is why winter is one of the best seasons to get outside. However, snowshoeing isn't the only way to explore the beauty of the season! Other activities to enjoy include ice skating, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, ice fishing, and even ice climbing. For more ways to enjoy the winter season in Rapid check out the related content below!