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Top 5 Rules When It Comes To Hiking

Raised in Rapid City and lucky to call it home, this outdoor enthusiast loves to explore the Black Hills with her husband and two dogs. When she’s not at work you’ll find her out hiking, at a local ice cream shop, or perhaps home taking a nap.

May 04, 2021

It’s important to remember that nature isn’t just there for our enjoyment. Treat it with care and respect so we can continue to take in its wonders for years to come! Here are five rules to follow and be a responsible hiker while also ensuring your own safety.

1. Pack in Pack Out

Dog standing at summit of Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak @beankelsey07

Whatever you bring on your hike with you, should also leave with you and be disposed of properly. Any hike you go on should be left as you found it, or better! If you find any trash or litter along the way do nature a kindness and pick it up.

2. Stick to the Trail

Father and daughter hiking in the Black Hills
Black Hills @jrokvisuals

The trails are there for a reason, so you know the way and so the surrounding vegetation doesn’t get damaged with too much traffic. It not only helps protect the surroundings to stay on the path but it’s also safer. The Black Hills are home to so many beautiful things but less inviting things are found here as well, like poison ivy.

3. Be Respectful to Wildlife

Bison in Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park @greentartworks

They didn’t ask you into their home, so keep a safe distance. I know it can be exciting to see some of the area’s wildlife out and about but it’s important to remember just that, they are wild. It's recommended to keep at least a 25 yard distant from wild animals, such as bison, these animals are faster than they appear and can be unpredictable. 

4. Be Prepared

Windy day hiking in the Badlands
Badlands National Park @@joeduarte.mov

It’s important to be prepared when going on a hike. Make sure to pack plenty of water, food and a first aid kit. For people like myself who faint at the sight of blood, band aids are crucial. Being prepared also means to plan ahead. Always check the weather before heading out to make sure clear skies are in the forecast and dress appropriately for the hike. Lastly, if you are going out alone, always make sure to let someone know where and when you are going.

5. Respect Other Hikers

Family hiking at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park
Sylvan Lake @alliebast

Hiking etiquette is a real thing. If you are on a popular path you will run into other hikers. Prefer to take it slow? Make sure to move over and let others go around you so you’re not holding anyone up. Keep noise levels to a minimum so you don’t disrupt the experience for others and always move over to the trail edges if you need to take a breather. If you’re descending a steep trail and meet hikers coming the opposite direction always move to the side. It takes a lot more energy to go up than it does to go down, so it’s polite to give them the right of way.

Another important thing to remember while hiking in the Black Hills is there are hiking locations that are sacred to many American Indian tribes such as Black Elk Peak, Wind Cave National Park and Bear Butte. Please be respectful of any worshippers and their religious practices. Prayer cloths, small bundles of fabric tied to trees, are commonly found hiking in these locations and we ask you do not disturb these offerings. 

The beauty and proximity of the Black Hills has always been one of my favorite things about living in Rapid City. I love hitting the trails whenever possible and recommending hiking trails to visitors, but it’s extremely important for everyone to remember – leave no trace.