April 22, 2018 • 275 views
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M Hill, located in Rapid City, is also referred to as Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park because as a memorial to her parents, Edna Marie Larsen created a trust for the trails to be developed from. There is roughly 20 miles of hiking trails all over the mountain, and is easily accessible to anyone wanting to experience the sense of adventure that it brings. There are two trailheads to the mountain. There is one on the southside of the city located at Founders Park, 1015 West Omaha, Rapid City, SD. On the northside, there is one located on Thrush Drive off West Boulevard, Rapid City, SD. Hiking M Hill can last anywhere from one hour to the whole day, whatever the hiker desires.
Poets Table is a lesser known, more discrete hiking destination in the Black Hills. The hike starts at Little Devils Trailhead, which is East of Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. To get to the table, follow this path for approximately 300 yards, and then an unmarked trail will become visible. The trail will look more like a beaten path than a trail. It is left of the main trail at a relatively flat spot in between two granite outcroppings. The path will continue up the hill. There are a few trails that go off of the path, and they all lead to the final destination- a green table with chairs, and a cupboard full of notebooks and writings that people have left behind.
Needles Highway is a National Scenic Byway. It is part of SD Highway 87 and is located 30 miles south of Rapid City, within Custer State Park. It is 14 miles long, and includes sharp turns, tunnels, and impressively sharp granite spires.
Cement Ridge is a little spot that is tucked away in the heart of the Black Hills. It is located in Wyoming, yet the small ridge offers pristine views of Crow Peak,Inyan Kara Mountain, Spearfish Peak, Terry Peak, Old Baldy Mountain, Custer Peak, Rattlesnake Canyon, Wagon Wheel Canyon, and Wyoming’s Grand Canyon. The easiest way to get to the start of the hike is to first head south on Tinton Road, 134; turn right onto Wagon
Road, 105; turn right onto 804, and drive until the junction with 850. This will be the ideal place to start the hike up the mountain.
Old Baldy is located in Spearfish, and the trailhead is on Tinton Road. It is about 5.7 miles long, and the trail consists of a variety of different pine trees to look at throughout the hike. The top of the summit provides visitors with a view of Crow Peek, Ragged Top, Terry Peak, and Cement Ridge Lookout. The trail additionally passes by Baldy Lake which is man-made.
Beyond the lush ferns of Botany Bay, a scenic lookout point sits in the middle of a sheer, limestone cliff. The view may be easy on the eyes, but the journey there is hard. To get there from Spearfish, head up Hwy 14A (Spearfish Canyon). About 5 miles into the canyon you will see a large semi-circle parking area on the right side of the road. If you’ve reached Bridal Veil Falls, you’ve gone too far. If this happens, turn around and the Botany Bay parking area will be less than a mile from the waterfalls parking lot. After parking at the pullout for Botany Bay, you will begin your expedition by hiking up the trail located on the right side of the semi-circle pullout. When you reach the fork in the trail, continue to the left and hike through the ferns and the forts covered in prayer flags. Once you reach the second fort, turn right and head up the steep hill towards a limestone wall. After arriving at the base of the wall, take a left, following along the wall. After a bit, you will head up a steeper section and the wall in front of you will be short and black. If you glance up at the wall to your right, you will notice that there is a cutout in the rock. Safely, scramble up the rock and traverse right into the cave. Then, you will crawl through the cave, quickly arriving at another fork. If you travel left, you will arrive at the big ledge pictured above; if you travel right, you will shimmy your way to an opening in the cliff face that you can only stick your head out of. Be cautious when reaching these points, for they are located 60 to 80 feet off the ground.
These are only a few of many hidden gems located in Spearfish Canyon. Some have been discovered, but there are many more hiding deep within the thick forest. The next time you have some free time, venture out into the hills, and uncover some secret destinations of your own. Although exploring is fun and exciting, make sure you adhere to Leave No Trace principles, doing your best to preserve the beauty around you. The 7 principles are: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors. As it starts to warm up, there will be more opportunities to get out there and discover the beautiful places nestled within Spearfish Canyon. So, take a break from studying and go explore!