Eastern South Dakota Hiking Trails
Good Earth State Park is located just 12 miles southeast of Sioux Falls, this park offers 9 miles of trails winding through oaks, cottonwoods, and native grasses located on a bend of the Big Sioux River. This park was the center of the Oneota Native American culture for over 700 years and many of the sacred gathering sites are preserved in the park.
Newton Hills State Park is a great example of a prairie oak savanna ecosystem. Located five miles south of Canton, SD the park offers several miles of wooded trails with trails for bird watching ,mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. In the winter you can enjoy groomed cross country ski trails or blaze your own trails through the woods. Lake Lakota provides fishing and boating and is located just southeast of the campgrounds.
Palisades State Park is located 25 miles northeast of Sioux Falls in the town of Garretson. Hiking trails snake through the quartzite rock formations and overlook the rushing waters of Split Rock Creek. Fifty foot high quartzite cliffs offer rock climbers god climbing opportunities in eastern South Dakota. Palisades State Park is one of the few places in the nation that contains catlinite. This mineral, also called pipestone, is found in the matrix of quartzite and is used by Native Americans for making peace pipes, or “calumets”. Several pipestone quarry sites can be found within the park.
Big Sioux Recreation Area offers urban dwellers a chance to enjoy nature without leaving the Sioux Falls metropolitan area. The Big Sioux Recreation Area is located between the cities of Sioux Falls and Brandon on the Big Sioux River. Hiking trails are located along the banks of the Big Sioux and on wooded bluffs and grasslands above the river. Hikers can enjoy a great view of the river and countryside from an overlook west of the river. Local mountain bikers share the trails with hikers and have created some of their own challenging trails. This park will soon connect to the Sioux Falls bike trals so bikers will be able to ride from the Greenway in western Sioux Falls to the Big Sioux Recreation Area.
Beaver Creek Nature Center is located 5 miles southeast of Brandon, South Dakota on Beaver Creek. The hiking trails wind through woods and across Beaver Creek.
Union Grove State Park is located just off I-90 and is 11 miles south of Beresford, South Dakota. This park began as a county park in 1936 with the damming of Brule Creek. The lake eventually silted in and the dam was removed. Hiking trails follow Brule Creek through the woods. Deer, wild turkeys, beaver and many small animals abound in the park as well as a variety of trees and plant life. Birdwatchers will enjoy the opportunities to see many species of birds including cardinals, orioles, grossbeaks, warblers, red-winged blackbirds, bluejays, pheasants and wild turkeys.
Spirit Mound is located 5 miles north of Vermillion on Highway 19. It was discovered by Native Americans, visited by Lewis and Clark, and is being restored to native prairie today. Hike up to the top of the mound through prairie grasses and forbs, listen to prairie songbirds, and enjoy the creek that runs through the park.
Oakwood Lakes State Park is the park to visit if you want to experience the beauty and observe the waterfowl of South Dakota’s glacial lakes. Located 7 miles west and 3 miles north of Volga, South Dakota, Oakwood Lakes contains eight glacial lakes with a variety of short hiking trails to take you to the different lakes.
Pelican Lake Recreation Area was named for the large flock of white pelicans that make their summer home on this lake. Pelican Lake is located 9 miles southwest of Watertown off Highway 42. Hike through native prairie grasses to an observation tower to observe the waterfowl that make this lake their summer home.
Sica Hollow State Park is located 15 miles northwest of Sisseton, South Dakota, Sica Hollow’s 12 miles of hiking trails combine nature and Native American spirituality. The Hollow's first Indian visitors named it "Sica," (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad. Eerie Sioux legends recall mysterious happenings here. Along the Trail of the Spirits, you'll see gurgling reddish bogs, which Indians saw as the blood and flesh of their ancestors. Indian lore gives new meaning to Sica's streams, rustic bridges, waterfalls, and wildflowers.
Farm Island Recreation Area features an island nature area. Eight miles of hiking trails wind through the island and give hikers, walkers, cross-country skiers and bird watchers a chance to enjoy this park. Deer and a variety of birds are very common to see on the island. Trail users may also notice traces of beaver activity near the water. Users also have access to a nature observation blind.
Blue Mounds State Park, (Luverne, Minnesota) is known primarily for its great rock climbing. Blue Mounds also offers 15 miles of hiking through secluded natural prairie grasses, and Burr Oaks. Throughout the park trails you will find outcrops of Sioux quartzite, prickly pear cactus, and natural springs. This park supports a variety of wildlife including a herd of bison.