Backpacking in South Dakota has to be experienced in the western part of South Dakota. There are a variety of backpacking trails located in the Badlands National Parks Wind Cave National Park, and in the Black Hills. The following list is not all inclusive, but if you click on one of the links you’ll find information on more trails and directions.
The Deerfield Trail is 18 miles in length, and connects Deerfield Lake with Rapid Creek and Pactola Reservoir. In addition to great scenery and abundant wildlife, you will pass by a variety of historic sites including a log flume, cabins, mines, tunnels and railroad grades. There is no drinking water along the trail, so it is best to carry water with you. Difficulty Rating: Easy to Moderate. More info at http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/blackhills/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=62812&actid=5
French Creek Natural Area in Custer State Park is a 12 mile one way back country hiking trail Enter the west trailhead at three miles from the Blue Bell Lodge v on North Lame Johnny Road. From the east you can enter four miles south of the Custer Game Lodge on the Wildlife Loop. Follow the stream, as the trail is not marked or developed. Hikers generally cross French Creek about 42 times and have to climb a 60’ embankment or swim part of the trail called the Narrows. More info at https://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/campgrounds/french-creek-natural.aspx
Centennial Trail is a 111-mile trail spanning the length of the Black Hills from Bear Butte State Park in the north to Wind Cave National Park in the South - approximately 22 miles of the trail are located within Custer State Park. This trail offers opportunities to view the natural and cultural resources of the Black Hills. More info at http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5194547.pdf
Badlands National Park offers a variety of designated hiking trails that allow you to experience the beauty of the park up close and personal. Hikes range from flat stretches through the prairie landscape to uphill climbs through the Badlands formations. More info at http://www.nps.gov/badl/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm
Wind Cave National Park Trails Imagine walking across a prairie and viewing scenery similar to that seen by Black Hills pioneers in the 1890s. Such landscapes can be seen from the 30 miles of hiking trails in Wind Cave National Park. From these trails you can view one of the best examples of mixed-grass prairie in the United States. Seventy percent of the park is mixed-grass prairie and the balance is ponderosa pine forest and riparian habitat. More info at http://www.nps.gov/wica/planyourvisit/hiking.htm