One of the most wonderful things about being in Rapid City is the easy access our city offers to excellent hiking experiences. Here are some of my favorite hikes within approximately 30 minutes of Rapid City.

1. Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park Trails

City views from Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park in Rapid City

Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park is the” choose your own adventure” of mountain parks. We can't pick just one trail in the park, as each option offers something different, but the views of Rapid City from HLMP, or M-Hill as we locals tend to call it, make it easy to fall in love with Rapid City. It’s the perfect spot for a quick hike as it is practically in the heart of downtown. Another great option without even leaving Rapid City is the trail network of Skyline Wilderness Area located next to Dinosaur Park. 

2. Little Elk Creek Trail

Almost exactly 20 minutes from Rapid City, Little Elk Creek Trail follows Little Elk Creek for three miles, almost to Dalton Lake near Nemo. The trail meanders up a gravel road, and then becomes single-track as it follows the flow of the creek. This trail is beautiful year round, but it shines when the leaves are changing in the fall. It’s a well-kept trail, with swimming holes and small waterfalls to splash in. 

3. Stratobowl Rim Trail

Stratobowl Rim Trail looking over the Historic Stratobowl Launch site

A quick out-and-back about ten minutes from Rapid City, the Stratobowl Rim Trail is an easy one mile hike that ends with views of the Stratobowl, where the highest manned flights of hot air balloons were made in the 1930’s. Historical markers at the end of the trail discuss the history, but the best part of the trail are the views of the limestone canyon and the rest of the Black Hills.  

4. Storm Mountain Trails

Just fifteen minutes from Rapid City, this trail starts at the trailhead of the popular Flume Trail section called Coon Hollow and connects to the Storm Mountain Loop. The trail is single track with some steep technical sections but offers beautiful views of the surrounding Black Hills. 

5. Horse thief Lake Trails

Horse Thief Lake tucked into the Black Hills of South Dakota

It only takes about a half hour to drive from Rapid City to Horsethief Lake. After you pass Mount Rushmore, the lake will be a few more miles down the road and to the left. There are a lot of wonderful trails in the Black Elk Wilderness and many can be accessed from Horsethief Lake. These trails are what hiking is all about. They wander through the granite spires and walls that the Black Hills are known for, enormous pine trees dwarf you, and small waterfalls lead in to pools of crytsal-clear water. The trails here change with the seasons. In the spring, you will find our state flower, the pasque, lining the forest floor. In the summer, enormous ferns will make you feel like you’ve landed in the Pacific Northwest. Autumn means the brush and aspen trees change to vibrant golds and reds. And in the winter, the waterfalls and creeks ice over and you feel like you’ve been transported to a fairytale ice world.